Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman and Goodwill: A Love Story

The thrift shop down the road from campus, Goodwill, sells Whitman College students hundreds of items each year. Goodwill Industries is a nonprofit organization that works to give disadvantaged people the skills required to succeed in the modern labor

Photos by Clay
Photos by Clay

market. But the name is best known to Whitman students as a thrift store that sells donated clothing and other consumer goods to fund that mission, making it a great place to find a Halloween costume or just to browse an eclectic assortment of trinkets, cookware, decorations and often-questionable electronics. We took a look at why Whitman students love Goodwill by asking them about their favorite Alder Avenue finds.

First-year Aidan McCormick, an occasional Goodwill shopper, got both of his most prized Goodwill possessions for costume purposes. His pledge father gave him a bathrobe made for a child for father-son night at his fraternity. He also spent $5 on a green jacket for last fall’s first-year ‘80s dance. Rather than having an assortment of one-trick ponies, McCormick reuses his costumes in his day-to-day life––even the ridiculous ones.

“I frequently wear [the robe] around Anderson,” said McCormick. “I’ve gone to a couple meals in this, just because it’s so damn comfy and outrageous.”

McCormick is unfazed by the attention he gets from wearing costumes out of context.

“I get a lot of weird looks, but people are just jealous,” he said.

The jacket gets a little more use than the robe in the outside world.

“I saw it sticking out of the jacket rack, and I was really surprised that no one had picked it up,” said McCormick. “This thing is great.”

McCormick has since developed a strong attachment to the neon green windbreaker.

“If I’m having a bad day, I’ll just wear the jacket, and it makes everything feel better,” he said. “If I’m having a really good day, it just makes it even better. I wear it on exam days for good luck.”

McCormick isn’t a regular shopper at Goodwill, but he counts himself a fan.

“I don’t go that often,” he said, “but I always find something.”

Kyle Courtois '17 shows his faux fur jacket. Photos by Clay.
Kyle Courtois ’17 shows his faux fur jacket. Photos by Clay.

First-year Kyle Courtois bought his beloved faux-fur coat as a costume. The coat comprised part of his Halloween imitation of rapper Macklemore in the video for his song “Thrift Shop.”

“It looked real cool, and I needed to get a Halloween costume,” Courtois said of his decision to buy the coat.

The coat reminds Courtois of the rumor that Macklemore bought the original coat featured in the video at a thrift store in Walla Walla.

“I think it’s cool that I also got a fur coat there,” he said. “I feel like we have something in common now.”

Before coming to Whitman, Courtois didn’t shop at Goodwill much at all, since his hometown of Cashmere, Wash., didn’t have one.  He shopped for clothes in department stores and online instead.

At Whitman, Courtois shops at Goodwill about once a month, usually with the express purpose of finding a costume for a party, like the “hipster” costume he got for Sigma Chi’s high school stereotypes function: a pair of glasses, a green beanie and a bright red scarf.

He still wears the coat around his section, and he has a lot of pride in his purchase.

“It’s pretty snazzy,” he said. “It was $20, actually, which is a lot for Goodwill, but it was worth it.”

My interview with sophomore roommates Ryan Wallis and Mateo Seger began with Wallis throwing pillows.

“This is Goodwill, and this is Goodwill, and this is Goodwill,” he chanted, pillows flying across the room in a swarm.

Wallis and Seger consider themselves Goodwill veterans. Their wide assortment of Goodwill finds represents two years of living together, and the collection of pillows alone fills a corner of their room on the fourth floor of North Hall.

“Last year we would go once every two or three weeks,” said Seger.

“Every time we would go, we would buy a pillow,” said Wallis. “We would often go with something small in mind, and usually get that thing, but then come out with one or two other things.”

One such accident is now the pair’s proudest Goodwill purchase. They pooled $50 for a couch from Goodwill in the first semester of last year.

“We carried it, just the two of us, from Goodwill back to Lyman, and up the stairs,” said Wallis. “We had to turn it on its side and unscrew the feet … to get it through the door.”

The effort turned out to be worth it, and the couch moved with them to North this year.

“It’s gotten a lot of use,” said Seger. “That couch has been excellent.”

It seems as though practically everything in Wallis’s and Seger’s room comes from Goodwill.  A box full of costumes sits in the corner. Among the many items in it are a purple shoulder-padded jacket from Wallis’s first-year ’80s dance costume and two dresses, one denim and one a dark pink.

“I’ve gotten a suprising amount of use out of [the pink] dress,” said Wallis as he attempted to put it on. “I wore it to Rocky [Horror] Picture Show and to a dodgeball game last year.”

In addition to goofy costumes, Seger and Wallis own plenty of practical Goodwill items. Their spinning desk chairs both came from Goodwill, as did most of their other furniture.

“Most of my clothing is from Goodwill or some other thrift store,” said Wallis.

The pair even joke that Goodwill got them into college.

“There’s college acceptance letters at Goodwill, and we thought ‘oh, hell yeah, we can go to college now,'” said Seger.

This year, they’ve spent less time at Goodwill than they did last year, and Wallis hasn’t found a reason to stop by at all. With their room fully furnished and a supply of costumes to fit any theme, the Goodwill bug lies dormant.  

“North is too far from Goodwill,” said Wallis with a chuckle.


First-year Margo Heffron has Goodwill fever. She goes about once a month and usually finds something good.

“It’s kind of the only place I shop here,” she said. “Even in Seattle, I would go to Goodwill first and foremost before anywhere else … I hate malls.”

Jacket- $18
Margo Heffron ’17 purchases lots of clothes from Goodwill. Photos by Clay.

She’s particularly proud of a denim jacket with multicolored patches and a sweater she found on the same day.

“I … walked into Goodwill, not knowing what I was going to buy, as always, and it was dead center. Both of them were in the front rack,” said Heffron.

“It’s awesome,” she said of the jacket. “It’s my party jacket.”

These flashy items aren’t the only gems in Heffron’s collection, though. Much of her day-to-day wardrobe comes from Goodwill.

“I have these jeans that I wear all the time from Goodwill,” she said. “I usually get a lot of good jeans there.”

She acknowledges some difficulties with thrift store shopping, but takes pride in her ability to make it work.

“Goodwill is kind of a place where you don’t really know what you’re going to get,” she said. “Sometimes there’s just not much there, but you also have to be kind of creative with your style … you can’t be too picky when you’re shopping.”

And sometimes, while sifting through clothes and thinking about how to alter them, she finds a diamond in the rough.

“I think the best find I ever got were brand-new Birkenstocks in my size for seven dollars,” said Heffron. “I was so damn happy that day.”

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