Gardening on a budget

By Joshua Crowe

Gardening can be a lot of work, but it shouldn’t cost a lot of money. Don’t give up your dream of having a garden just because you can’t afford those expensive nursey items. By shopping thrift, there are many affordable ways you can create a garden you can be proud.

Plus, no matter where you live you can grow a garden practically anywhere. Check out this article for budget-friendly ideas for your own garden.

What better way to help the environment by planting a garden while giving donated items a second chance at life while keeping waste out of the landfill. Aside from edible herbs and vegetables, buying secondhand garden supplies to grow your plants means you’re doing the environment a double favor! And to top it off, there are therapeutic benefits to gardening, according to this article from Psychology Today.

Here are some examples of items to look for when shopping your local Goodwill for your budget garden.

Blankets or sheets: If you are expecting a light freeze, using a blanket or sheet will help protect plants during that cold snap.

Large spoons: Good for digging holes and transplants. 39 cents each

Muffin tins: Serving a dual purpose, they can be used to start your seeds before moving them to the garden. They also can be pushed into the soil to create a perfectly spaced grid for your plants. $2.99

Pots and planters: If you have a specific plant that needs regulated soil or for container gardening, these pots and planters will give you the ability to move or regulate your plants. $1.79-$9.99

Garden art: While not essential, garden art adds a unique spin to your garden. $6.99-$14.99

Clothing and footwear:

  • Garden hat: Provides protection from the sun and are lightweight and comfortable enough to wear for a long period of time.
  • Gloves: Essential for gardeners by helping to avoid blisters/calluses and preventing cuts and scrapes.
  • Button-up shirts and jeans: Why pay full price for these when they will get dirty. Shirt, $6.99; jeans, $9.99
  • Boots/shoes: Most garden shoes are highly resistant to abrasion; these will keep your feet dry and clean and provide secure footing regardless of the surface. $6.99

Think outside the box when shopping for gardening supplies.

Remember those spoons we mentioned? Aside from using them to dig holes for transplants and bulbs, you can create long-lasting garden markers and design them how you like. If you break a pot, there’s no need to throw it out. You can use it as a decoration to make your plants look like they are spilling out of the pot.

If you don’t have a large gardening area, you can “grow up.” Shoe organizers can be repurposed into a vertical hanging garden. Simply create a few small drainage holes in the bottom of each pouch, fill with soil or compost, add your seeds and then watch them grow! $3.99

Spray bottles and squirt guns can be used for cleaning items, watering delicate seedlings or battling garden pests that may want to snack on your young garden.

DIY jewelry box

So many times, we find ourselves wondering where to put all of our jewelry or accessories to keep a tidy dresser or bathroom counter. Find jewelry boxes in all shapes and sizes at your local Goodwill and upcycle one to make it your own.

In addition to the jewelry box from your local Goodwill, collect the following supplies to transform it into something that fits your style.

Step 1: Gather supplies:

  • Jewelry box
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Sequins (or any other accessory to match your style)

Step 2: Sand the box to remove any coating and roughen the surface to help the paint stick.

Step 3: Use cleaner to wipe any excess dust off the box.

Step 4: Begin painting the sides, edges and top of the box. Let the box sit overnight to dry.

Step 5: Cut paper to fit the inside lid of the box.

Step 6: Apply glue to the inside bottom and sides of the box and place paper on the bottom and sides, pressing down evenly.

Step 7: Apply glue to the top lid of the box and glue paper to the top and sides of the top, pressing down evenly.

Step 8: Tap off the area on the lid where you will add your sequins with two pieces of tape. Apply super glue to the area where you will add your sequins. Add sequins before the glue dries and carefully remove the tape.

From here you can use your new box to hold your favorite jewelry, keep it by the door to hold your keys and other accessories or get creative with where it fits best within your home!

Fashionista: Shop your own closet and then donate to Goodwill

We are well into our Safer at Home quarantine and until now I had been putting off the inevitable – cleaning out my closet.

With all the time spent inside, I couldn’t ignore this task any longer. Rather than dipping my toes into it, I dove in, and started by taking everything out of my closet. I asked myself: When’s the last time I wore that? Does it fit me or my lifestyle? Is it faded or need a button? In the process I realized I have a serious detachment issue when it comes to my clothes. Yikes!

But I carried on, filled the bags and put them in the basement until I can donate them to Goodwill. Out of sight out of mind.

It is now much easier to pull outfits together, and I can proudly say I know what’s in my closet. I even took pictures of outfits so all I have to do is look at my phone for inspiration.

I shopped my closet for a fun spring look. These are pieces I know you probably already have. I found my favorite jean jacket with its unique details, including the drawstring tie, along with a cute off-the-shoulder striped shirt, a pair of white ankle pants and a fun scarf I attached to a purse and a pair of bold earrings.

Cost breakdown: Loft off-the-shoulder top, $1.99 on clearance; Ralph Lauren jean jacket, $8.99 at 50% off with color tag of the week at boutique; Lisette white ankle pant, $4.99 at 50% off with color tag of the week; Merona scarf, $1.99; and earrings from my closet.

It’s time to start cleaning! You can do it. Put on some lively music and pour yourself a glass of wine.

When Goodwill opens for shopping, this fashionista – and so many others throughout our communities — will have donated some great pieces. Yes, the breakup needed to happen. But it will make for some outstanding shopping!

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.

Fashionista: ‘Blessed’ Goodwill sweatshirt even more meaningful now

When I purchased this sweatshirt from Goodwill with the embossed “blessed” on it I never would have guessed that word would mean as much to me as it does today.

I never thought our world would be turned upside down with the coronavirus pandemic and that we would be living in uncertain times and quarantining at home. What we took for granted and what we long for has become all too real.

But we need to be people who are blessed and grateful.

I’m certain you can find things to be thankful for – your health, a warm home, food on the table, a job to pay the bills, friends who can listen or may need to hear your words of encouragement.

We will get back to normal – a new normal – and soon enough we will be attending weddings, celebrating graduations and, our favorite, shopping at Goodwill.

For now, let’s be thankful and count our blessings, just like my thrifted sweatshirt says.

Cost breakdown: Sweatshirt, $4.99; zippered jogging pants, $4.99; and polka dot Keds, $9.99.

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.


Fashionista: Thrifted faux leather jacket

I’ve never owned a leather jacket. Well, I finally found a faux jacket at Goodwill with detailing that makes it interesting. You know me! I love those little details with the straps on the neckline and on the sleeves. It snaps at the bottom for a more fitted jacket.

A leather jacket is truly a versatile piece. You can style it casually with boyfriend jeans and a graphic tee. That is a typical option.

How about seeing this jacket in a different way? I chose to embrace a masculine and feminine side where opposites attract by adding a lacy blouse, which is lined for bonus points, and a beautiful flowing skirt. With feminine jewelry and a beautiful pair of pumps, you are all set for girls’ night out or date night.

Tip: If you have a more fitted top, wear a looser bottom half. The jacket here is fitted but the skirt is loose.

Cost breakdown: Faux leather jacket, $2.99 on clearance; lacey Vince Camuto top, $8.99; Dressbarn skirt, $6.99; and pumps from my closet.

It is time to find that new-to-you thrifted piece. That’s what I love about Goodwill. You can try different looks without breaking into your budget. Plus, your shopping purchases help people in your community.

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.

Spring 2020 fashion trends

We’re always eager to see what a new season brings for style, and spring 2020 fashion trends do not disappoint. You might be thinking of traditional spring trends such as dainty florals and pastels, but you’re wrong! Read on for some not-so-predictable spring 2020 fashion trends that you easily can find at Goodwill.

Polka dots

Playful and fun, polka dots are popping up as a major spring fashion trend. They always have been considered a staple, but now they are taking over spring 2020 fashion trends. We’re doing a little happy dance right now to celebrate! Avoid pastel polka dots and keep them classic with color combos like navy and white or black and white.

If you want to start off subtle with your polka dots, try them out in a tank blouse and top it off with a lightweight sweater in just about any color you are in the mood for.

Floral prints

Yes, floral prints are still springing up everywhere for spring 2020. You’ll still see the botanical trend in effect, but in a much different way. Look for moody and dark florals as opposed to the whimsical and delicate prints of the past. Also popular are bold rose prints. Show off the fresh look in shoes, handbags, blouses, sweaters and so much more. Everything is in bloom!

Capri pants

Hear us out. Capri pants are back in style for spring 2020. Think of sleek and tailored capris rather than the cargo or slouchy styles of the past. According to InStyle, capris were all the rage during New York Fashion Week. Need an excuse to not wear shorts? Capri pants are your solution. Look for them in not only classic denim but also in colors such as black and olive.


Bye, bye spring pastels! We’ve mentioned this color before when talking about spring dresses, but tangerine is hot, hot, hot! The color is flattering on everyone and can carry well into summer and even fall. Look for it popping up in not only dresses but tops, skirts, printed shorts, shoes and even jewelry.

As always, shopping your local Goodwill thrift store is the best way to try out new spring 2020 fashion trends. If you decide you like a new look, hooray! You saved way more than your neighbor. On the flip side, if you decide polka dots just aren’t your thing, you aren’t out more than a few dollars that went to a great cause anyway. Happy thrifting!

5 tips on how to transition to a spring wardrobe

Who wants to just dive right into summer tanks and breezy dresses now that spring seems to be here? We’re totally there with you, but it’s just not realistic quite yet. Spring in Wisconsin means fluctuating temps and chilly breezes, not to mention piles of dirty snow, leftover traces of salt and muddy grass. These conditions don’t exactly call for sandals and dresses.

We promise you those days are just right around the corner, but in the meantime, we have five clever and easy tips to transition from a winter to spring wardrobe without being too underdressed and unprepared.

Add patterns and prints

Winter is a thing of the past, at least for a while, so it’s time to step out from under the dark and solid sweaters. Add in some pieces with patterns and prints to allow spring to creep in. For example, try nautical stripes instead of solids. Florals are also a great nod to spring, but don’t go all pastel. Opt for a floral print in a darker color to be seasonally appropriate. We also recommend staying away from plaids, but if you must, choose a gingham print instead of a traditional fall plaid.


Step away from your go-to blacks and grays. Let some color into your spring wardrobe. Maroon- or olive-colored pants mix well with printed tops without being too light and summery. Another way to add in subtle color is choosing a jean jacket instead of your trusty black coat.

If you aren’t quite ready for color yet, start small with hints of color in your nails, jewelry or other accessories. How fun would a pair of red or yellow shoes be?

Eliminate heavy fabrics

You can put away your wool, flannel and fleece for next year. Yippee! Choose lighter fabrics for your spring wardrobe such as cotton, canvas or even lace.

Don’t forget to swap out items like heavy winter scarves for lightweight pieces. Those smaller items make a difference, too!

Remember your footwear

When transitioning your closet from winter to spring, it might be easy to skip over your footwear options and jump right into sandals. But hold up. It’s not quite time to be getting pedicures and wearing flip-flops, especially when there is still salt in parking lots.

When you put away your snow boots and knee-highs, head to your local Goodwill thrift store and find some shoes that act as a stepping stone between seasons. Select canvas sneakers, slip-ons or flats in fun colors or prints. We also really like a great pair of rain boots for those inevitable chilly and rainy days where you don’t want to be left looking silly with cold feet.


The most important tip for transitioning to a spring wardrobe is to dress in layers. Spring weather can be unpredictable and all over the board. Cardigans will be a girl’s best friend in spring. Layer them over tees or tanks or even long-sleeved tees if needed.

If you can’t wait to wear your shorter spring dresses, layer them over leggings. If the temps rise, slip off your leggings and you’re instantly comfortable again. So easy!

Fashionista: Transitioning to spring wardrobe with green peacoat

I know we are still officially in winter, but I am so ready to embrace my spring wardrobe.

Springtime is a fresh start. Why not shop Goodwill for some fresh looks in your closet?

I confess I have a personal love affair with coats. When I saw this beautiful emerald green peacoat I didn’t give it a second thought. In the cart is went. I was even stopped in the store because the shopper thought it was so beautiful. Hello, yes, it is and thank you very much.

This coat screams springtime to me!

This peacoat will be in my closet for a long time. I absolutely love this color paired with dark denim. A darker rinse definitely will upgrade your look and make you look dressier.

Pair this with a crisp white shirt, and you have one classic look that never will go out of style. I added the navy and blue pom-pom scarf. Wear it around your neck or tie it to your purse.

My style icon, my aunt Jean, often matched her purse and shoes. She dressed with such beauty and elegance. Now you rarely see the same purse and shoes. On this trip to GW, I was fortunate to find an emerald purse that was identical to the coat. Hmm, maybe I will bring this style back. It certainly reminds me of a different era.

It was a very good day for me at my GW!

Cost breakdown: emerald green pea coat, $1.99 on clearance; Olive and Joy handbag, $9.99; Land’s End white shirt, $6.99; Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, $6.99 with 50% off color tag of the week; pompon scarf, $1.99.

Think springtime and refresh. Shop GW!

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.

Bring Good Home with thrifted clothing finds

As a professional photographer from Green Bay, Kim Martin on occasion will match the dress code of the event she is shooting. That was the case in September 2019 when she was photographing a fundraiser at Lambeau Field.

Kim, who wanted a navy thrifted gown that was low cut and offered an “Angelina Jolie slit” up the side, went searching for used dresses at the Goodwill Stevens Point Retail Store and Training Center during a quick stop in the city. The hunt did not take long.

In four minutes, she found the thrifted gown she wanted for $14.99 along with heels and a necklace.

“The dress was a huge hit,” Kim said. “I got several ‘wows.’’’

Nearly everything she wears is from Goodwill. “I shop Goodwill for nearly everything.”

That includes stocking and supplying her one-bedroom Airbnb rental home with thrifted items from Goodwill, including some of her favorite recent finds — Ikea comforter, Belgium beer glasses for the bar and a yellow light fixture she bought at the Goodwill Outlet Store.

For 18-year-old Jacob Renard VerVoort of Appleton, thrifted clothing reflects his personal style and expression. So much so that he chose a vintage tee with an embroidered “Grandma” across the front to wear during his senior pictures photo shoot.

What did his grandmothers think?

“They were surprised,” Jacob said.

Thrifters Bring Good Home and bring on childhood with used toys

Erica Linzmeier and her daughter, Morgan, of Nekoosa are hooked on collectible dolls, specifically used American Girl dolls.

As a child, Erica wanted an American Girl doll, but her parents refused to spend about $90 at the time on a new one. Instead, they loaded her up on Barbies and less expensive toys.

Her wish went ungranted until adulthood, when Erica decided she would buy herself a used American Girl doll.

One purchase led to another, and now Erica and Morgan have a collection of 20 used American Girl dolls. It’s been possible because of buying them secondhand, including through Goodwill, by shopping online. Her first Goodwill purchase at only cost her $28.

“I never outgrew dolls so maybe she won’t,” Erica said.

Not only has the pint-sized passion they share brought mother and daughter together, it also has given them a larger doll community to be a part of, where they learn tricks about cleaning used American Girl dolls, replacing the wig and more.

Together, they pick a name for each of their dolls that comes from their own ancestry and give them stories, interests and characteristics to help bring them to life. Morgan has followed in her mother’s footsteps by taking up her hobby of dressing up the used American Girl dolls and then photographing them at their best in different scenes.

Follow their adventures on Instagram @adventuresindollcollecting.

Richard Pfeifer of Tomah’s brush with childhood happened in the toy aisle at Goodwill, where he passed a stuffed animal that reminded him immediately of his beloved dog, Barney, who was the best friend any boy could want from elementary through high school.

When he saw the stuffed pooch’s nametag matched that of his childhood pet, he knew this sentimental reunion with Barney was destiny.

“I had to buy it,” Richard said.

He now keeps stuffed animal Barney next to a treasured photo of him with the real Barney at his home.