Many of us love thrift shops, but lack the time to hunt for treasures at second-hand stores. Goodwill addressed that problem with http://www.shopgoodwill.com/, an eBay-style electronic marketplace and auction platform. The merchandise, including antiques, is posted with photos by 71 Goodwill organizations around the country, according to Joan Dornbach, vice president of marketing for Goodwill of Orange County in California.
''People don't expect Goodwill to be on the cutting edge of technology,'' Dornbach said.
Items sell anywhere from $1 to $165,000 for an oil painting by Frank Weston Benson, an American Impressionist (1862-1951), said Ryan Smith, the Internet database architect for shopgoodwill.com.
''My favorite thing to search for there is art,'' according to a post from Modern Roost, a blogger (http://www.modern-roost.blogspot.com/). ``You can really find some amazing stuff. I have to admit, it's a little bit of a crap-shoot. Luckily, for me, that's what makes thrift shopping fun. The competition for the goods is every bit as fierce as on eBay, but all of the proceeds go to a very worthy cause.''
In August, shopgoodwill.com posted more than 55,000 items and sold 45,000 from inventory that includes antiques, collectibles, clothing, electronics, books and musical instruments, which are arranged according to category. Online shoppers spend an average time of 20 minutes buying items on the site.
''You get to find unique items that you don't normally see on eBay and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting a good cause,'' Smith said.
As an online flea market, shopgoodwill.com has pulled in $46 million in revenue since January 2000, including more than $10 million last year.
Here are tips for using the site:
• Buyer registration is required but free.
• Purchases are not tax deductible. Review the shipping and handling fees.
• Know the categories. Auctions listed in the ''Going, Going, Gone'' category are due to end in five hours or less. Those featured as ''Ending Today'' are auctions with a 24-hour shelf life.
• Contact the seller. Buyers with questions about a specific item can contact the individual Goodwill store. E-mail links are posted with the description for each item.
• Payment is accepted in many forms, including major credit and debit cards, money orders and personal checks.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald
The Frugal Duchess Booktique
The Frugal Duchess of Beauty Store
Book Shop of Fear
The Poetry & Drama Queen
Frugal Jazz & Blues
Frugal Comic Book Connection