The Goodwill Bins, or, more properly The Portland, Oregon Goodwill Outlet store, is a warehouse like store located in southeast Portland where Goodwill sells merchandise off at very cheap prices.

The reason for this store's existence has to do with the history of Goodwill Industries in the Willamette Valley. Over the past ten years, Goodwill stores in the Willammette Valley and Vancouver, Washington have followed a policy of making their stores cleaner, more modern and a little bit ritzy. Because of this, these stores are the most succesful Goodwill stores in the country, and have a nice assortment of merchandise.

On the other hand, this means that there is a lot of stuff...literally tons every day, that while it would be acceptable in most thrift stores, is not acceptable for the newly chic Goodwill. All of this stuff has to go somewhere, and that is to the gigantic warehouse in SE Portland, where it is dumped on tables for people to pick through.

Explaining what this store is like is pretty hard for all of us who have had a sanitized-for-your-protection American shopping experience all our lives. And indeed, a great many of the people who shop at the bins are immigrants-often Hispanic or Slavic.

One of the major things that is different is that clothing are, for the most part, sold by the pound, the current price being a little more then a dollar per pound. Every type of clothing is piled on top of tables-the eponomys bins, where it can be searched through. Almost all of the clothing is still functional and without rips, since Goodwill does not accept damaged clothing. Periodically, throughout the day, when the tables become empty, workers push carts through and heap more clothing on. Supposedly the tables must be filled several times a day.

In addition to clothing, there is also books, furniture and electronics. The electronics, which include old computer parts, are scattered in the same haphazard fashion, with a Commodore 64 laying on top of an Apple printer, which is laying on top of an old toaster. Of course, all such things are as is.

I could go to some lengths describing some of the cheesy/obsolete/cliched items and knick knacks to be found, but truthfully, it must be seen to be believed. If anyone is passing through Portland, it may be a good idea to visit this place before it becomes gentrified.