As a crafter and a costumer, I am always looking for inexpensive materials. A friend suggested I check out the Goodwill Outlet Store to find clothes for a middle school production of Fiddler on the Roof. Goodwill Outlet Stores are where items that don’t sell in a Goodwill Retail Store go for their last chance. Picture a huge warehouse of table-size shallow bins filled with a jumble of clothes, shoes and accessories—all sold by the pound!

ImageShoppers stand and root through the piles as in a TV sitcom. You’d think there’d be squabbling, but instead a camaraderie develops as people chat while searching. With the raw materials I gathered I was able to outfit a cast of Russian peasants for under $300!

Talbots LabelI frequent the Outlet now primarily for crafting items. I comb the bins for clothes made from nice fabrics to use in sewing or interesting buttons to adorn knitted pieces—at $1.49/lb. they are far cheaper than new. Sometimes I find real treasure!

Many quality items end up in the Outlet because they need a simple repair, have a stain, or are last year’s fashion. It’s not uncommon to find designer labels like Laura Ashley or Talbots mixed in with the less desirable. I’ve found jeans for my teen, an Eddie Bauer Fair Isle sweater, 100% linen blouses, and a beautiful Icelandic jacket that fit perfectly. But my best score was this adorable child’s jacket.

Cyrillus CoatI was drawn to the toggle buttons to use as accents on knitted cowls. The jacket looked new save for a large streak of glitter glue down the front. I noted the sizing was European, the fabric and detailing exceptional. I brought it home and threw it in the wash. To my delight, the glue washed out! Instead of taking it apart, I researched the label—Cyrillus—and found it was from Paris; new coats sold for 125 euros! Instead of tearing it apart, I mailed it off to my cousin for her daughter. She’ll grow into it soon!