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Want a Hot Item at Goodwill? Wait for the Friday Window Sale

By Heather Holland | December 16, 2013 6:53am
 Shoppers wait outside of Gramercy's Goodwill store starting at 3 a.m. and sometimes even earlier to get first dibs on name-brand items.
Goodwill Window Sale
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GRAMERCY — Larry Whitfield waited six hours on a freezing Gramercy sidewalk last Friday hoping to score a deal on an Xbox for his kids and a Louis Vuitton purse for his girlfriend.

But he wasn't at a designer pop-up or a pre-Christmas promotion — it was the local Goodwill's weekly window sale. Each week, the thrift store puts its hottest donated items in the window for shoppers to ogle — but not buy — until Friday morning at 9 a.m., when customers can finally flood in to grab the deals.

"You have to get here early because if you’re too late, all the good stuff will be gone,” said Whitfield, 50, who said he got to the store at 3 a.m.

The Washington Heights resident was first in a line of about a dozen people outside of the 220 E. 23rd St. shop last Friday. The pre-dawn wait in 20-degree weather was well worth it because he got great discounts, Whitfield said.

"I got something that's worth $300 for only $50," he said of the Xbox.

Alberto Flores started waiting outside the Goodwill at 5 a.m., to pick up an HTC Android phone in its original packaging, priced at just $195.

“It was worth it,” Flores said. “I had my eye on it since day before yesterday."

Goodwill store manager Zina Racha said she likes to build excitement for the shop's top merchandise by putting it in the window each week, offering everything from Roberto Cavalli pumps and Coach purses to older models of Canon and Nikon cameras.

All the items are donated, and the sales benefit Goodwill Industries International, a network of nonprofits that provides job training and employment services nationwide.

“We always get long lines out of the door for it,” Racha said, adding that the merchandise has included designer shoes, jewelry and musical instruments. “Last week, one woman even waited 24 hours just to get in first.”

Goodwill staffers begin distributing numbers to everyone in line at 8:30 a.m. each Friday. When each number is called, that shopper can choose items from the window on a first-come, first-served basis. The window sale runs all day — but the merchandise often disappears quickly.

When it was 60-year-old Gramercy resident Anibal Gomez’s turn to browse last Friday, he picked out a pair of L.L.Bean loafers for $34.99. He had set his sights on a Canon camera, but he hadn't brought enough money for both.

“They’re very nice shoes, and they look like new,” Gomez said. “But next time, I’ll come back for the camera.”