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Please Be the Judge

July 4, 2016


Mrs. Chatterbox and I seldom have disagreements, but an issue has developed where we disagree and I’ve agreed to let my readers decide who’s right and who’s wrong. I promised Mrs. C. I wouldn’t prime the pump by slanting this in my direction, so here goes.


Lately, instead of spending hundreds of dollars ordering custom frames I’ve been purchasing them at Goodwill. It’s unbelievable what I’ve found; frames I’d pay $200.00 tagged at only a few bucks. I recently purchased an amazing frame that looked like it had been stolen from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—priced at $5.99.


Last week I discovered two frames I had to have; one was perfect for a portrait I painted of CJ when he was in grade school, a custom frame of good quality; the other was much smaller but of a higher quality than the first—this is where I’m attempting to not prime the pump. It was tagged at $29.99.


I asked the salesperson if she could give me a better price on the more expensive one since it was smaller than the first and I intended to purchase both. She checked with the manager who lowered the price of the more expensive one to $19.99. I happily purchased both.


Trouble ensued when I mentioned my bargains to Mrs. Chatterbox, who exclaimed, “What’s wrong with you? Nobody tries to talk them down at Goodwill! What kind of monster are you?”


Okay, she didn’t actually call me a monster, but wives do have that sphincter-tightening tone. She did proceed to lecture me on all the wonderful things Goodwill does by employing the disabled and people down on their luck in need of a job. She made me feel like a heel, like I’d kicked a puppy.


I reminded her that the Goodwill didn’t pay anything for these frames, they were donated,

and many of the frames had been gathering dust for months without attracting buyers. The Goodwill was probably happy to see them go. That was probably a bit of pump priming. Sorry.


So I ask you, my dear readers, was I wrong to ask for a better price at Goodwill? Am I a monster?


Is anyone in the market for a really nice frame for say—a few hundred dollars?





While you're deciding my fate, Happy Fourth of July to everyone.





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I see it as Goodwill having $20 more than it did if the thing was left sitting on the shelf. Maybe Goodwill sees it the same.
By: S on July 4, 2016
S's comment makes sense to me!!
By: fishducky on July 4, 2016
I side with you, Steve. Sorry Mrs C. Goodwill is always looking to get rid of stuff. You got a bargain!
By: Linda on July 4, 2016
I have to side with the Mrs. on this one. By your own admission you were getting fantastic deals on all the frames.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 4, 2016
I don't think it hurts anyone if you negotiate at Goodwill. They kind of masquerade as a charity. Yes, they employ disabled people, but they pay them pennies. The head of Goodwill makes a fortune. No one will make less money because you got a frame at a lower price. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on July 4, 2016
There's nothing wrong with asking. In this case, it paid off - $10 more for you to buy another frame or two. Happy Fourth, Stephen and Mrs. C.
By: Robyn Engel on July 4, 2016
I’m with you, but I would suggest St. Vinnies over Goodwill because Goodwill doesn’t deserve its name due to what I’ve found to be its low ethical standards. I might shop there sometimes, but I will never give them anything again.
By: Snowbrush on July 4, 2016
If the vote comes in against you I'll know I'm a monster too because I've done that very thing. My thinking was the same. They are worth noting sitting on their shelves. It's only when you buy things that they make money. R
By: Rick Watson on July 4, 2016
Sorry Stephen, I vote for Mrs. C. , because of what she said.
By: Tom Sightings on July 4, 2016
Oh I do not think you did any thing wrong- but IF it makes Mrs C think better of you you could go by and donate the difference to Goodwill. However- it's like a garage sale- they did not have to give you the discount in the first place. Cheers and could we please see both of the framed pieces? Cheers and Happy 4th!
By: Kathe W. on July 4, 2016
But, doesn't that money get put back into the community? If so, then I think I agree with Mrs. C. A bargain meant less money to those who may need it. On the other hand, I'm sure Goodwill was happy to see them go. A conundrum, for sure. Screw it, I'm going to get a beer.
By: Al Penwasser on July 4, 2016
I LOVE being the judge! If you have an opening for juror or executioner, you know where to find me! You were NOT out of line in asking for a better deal. They could have said no.
By: Val on July 4, 2016
I'm with what Janie Junebug said - Goodwill is NOT a charity. They pay some workers less than minimum wage and their CEO makes millions. I'd say you negotiate all you can - good for you! I won't shop at or donate to Goodwill any more ever since I saw one of those plastic containers that holds wonton soup from the Chinese takeout priced at $1.75 in one of their stores here.
By: Pixel Peeper on July 4, 2016
A great debate you launched on this independence day. It never hurts to ask about a price and the price at Goodwill, or other such places, is a relative thing and based on no actual cost of goods. However one expects the money received to do benefit and good, so there is that about "bargaining" for a lower price. However I vote for your line " but wives do have that sphincter-tightening tone." Good luck explaining that one!
By: Tom Cochrun on July 4, 2016
Mrs. C has her heart in the right place on this, but Goodwill is not really a good charity. If it had been at a Salvation Army Thrift Store, or Disabled Veterans, or any real charity, i'd agree that it seems rather cheap to ask for a discount when it's going to a good cause.
By: messymimi on July 4, 2016
There's nothing wrong with being frugal, but the wife is always right.
By: PT Dilloway on July 4, 2016
My micro manager would ask for a lower price in a heartbeat. Old softy here would pay the price. Whether you should or should not ask for a lower price I think is your own decision.
By: red Kline on July 4, 2016
They were unable to sell the frames at the marked price. You did them a service by taking those frames off their hands. I won't take up space on your blog telling what I think of Goodwill.
By: Uncle Skip on July 5, 2016
I might be with Mrs C on this one, though it depends to some extent on what Goodwill does. (It doesn't operate here.) I know that if I am not impressed with the charity then my conscience would be clear. For instance some charities pose as helping kids or alleviating poverty but really they are set up as propaganda arms of sects or nationalistic and political organisations. You can probably rely on the manager, to know how likely they would be to sell the frame. He might have figured it was best to keep you as a customer by giving you a special bargain now and then for a frame that most people might not spot was nice. There is always a dilemma if you see something valuable in a charity shop really. So it is a tricky one. Maybe, if Goodwill is OK, then you should drop $10 into their collecting box next time you have a windfall and hopefully that would be OK with both you and Mrs C
By: Jenny woolf on July 5, 2016
I am on your side with this one. I think it is a sign of the times that people negotiate price in any retail store. Goodwill Thrift Stores are still stores and as you say, they got the frames donated. How things are priced are subjective at best. I am far more uncomfortable when I see women at Nordstrom asking for money off because of a loose button or a wrinkle. I doubt the the people at Goodwill thought anything negative of your request.
By: Cheryl P. on July 5, 2016
I am leaning towards Mrs. C on this one. I personally would not dicker with a charity. but I am sure many do. I was unaware of Goodwill being shady but I am thinking had it been the Salvation Army, you might have done the same. with possibly the same results. Evidently the manager didn't feel put upon and considered it a deal so sleep well Stephen.
By: Arkansas Patti on July 5, 2016
Okay, I will climb down from my high horse of morality. I appear to be in the minority on this issue. I am disappointed in all of you, but will communicate that disappointment to Mr. C. who is currently sleeping in the guest room.
By: Mrs. Chatterbox on July 5, 2016
Have you ever volunteered at a charity thrift store? There is so much in the back looking for shelf space, the faster they can move things out the door the better. It is always appropiate to help them move things along.
By: Lisa on July 5, 2016
If the original price was fair, and Goodwill is a viable charity (I know nothing about them) then I have to go with Mrs. C.
By: cranky on July 5, 2016
Excuse me while I laugh. Your post brought back a story from my distant past when my girlfriend of the time had been giving me static about how I handled my money, small as it was. So one day I bought a couch from a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store after bargaining the price down a few dollars. When I proudly told my lady, she (a practicing Roman Catholic) exclaimed "What? You cheated the St. Vincent de Paul ladies? What kind of cad are you?" Or something like that. Sometimes, my friend, we men just can't win.
By: Catalyst on July 7, 2016

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