It’s all for charity at the annual Goodwill Glitter Sale.

A few years ago my sister-in-law invited me to the Goodwill Glitter Sale in Seattle. There were a few things I needed to know before committing, however. Namely, there would be no public fitting rooms and would I be comfortable shopping with a bunch of strangers in my undergarments? I had been in more bizarre situations than this in my 40+ years and readily agreed to go. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, was “only going along for the ride and definitely would not be trying anything on.” We were just happy to have her join us.

We met at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday in early November. After sufficiently caffeinating ourselves, the caravan of three pulled out of Bellingham en route for the main Goodwill location on Dearborn Street. An hour and a half later and a few passes around the block to find parking, we had arrived. There was still a line to get in but we didn’t mind. Everyone seemed to be in such an upbeat mood – offer women (and professional female impersonators) a bargain and the frame of mind can be down-right festive.

My excitement grew as we approached the front of the line. But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw: Thousands of square feet of glitzy gowns, formal wear for men and women, furs, leather, jewelry (take a number to have your name called), vintage clothing and – did I mention? – shoes!! Rows and rows and racks upon racks of extravagance punctuated with half-dressed people darting willy-nilly, here and there. It didn’t take but a second to realize a shopper has got to be tough for this kind of hunting. If your idea of shopping is a nice color-coded round of perfect size 10s, this is not for you.

We quickly set up a home base for our group with Grammy (remember the mother-in-law who wasn’t trying anything on) standing century over our collected treasures. It was all a bit unnerving at first. However, my trace amount of modesty quickly disappeared upon realizing no one really cared that I was scampering around in spandex shorts, a jog bra and a small muffin top growing around the middle. Apparently, our little den mother got caught up in all the excitement as well. The next time I returned to base there she was in nothing but a T-shirt and granny panties – trying on clothes of all things!

In the midst of the controlled chaos on the shopping floor, a well-managed and hugely profitable fundraiser continues year after year. All proceeds from the two-day event goes to the Goodwill Job Training and Education Program. The Glitter Sale of 2011 (its 28th year) brought in a record $186,217. Goodwill’s motto is “Jobs Change Lives” and I, for one, will continue to support this worthy cause for years to come. Thank you, Goodwill, for all you do.

Seattle Goodwill
Dearborn Street Store – 1400 S. Lane St.

"Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw: Thousands of square feet of glitzy gowns, formal wear for men and women, furs, leather, jewelry, vintage clothing and – did I mention? – shoes!!"