Thrift Store Heroes: Shopping At Goodwill Is Sustainable, Creative and Charitable

abby1There’s an anonymous quote that says, ‘recycling turns things into other things, which is like MAGIC.’ When reviewing all her upcycled craft projects and fashion sense, Abby Drennen, author of a DIY blog for Goodwill since November 2014, and a personal fashion blog titled, ‘Les Bottes D’ Eleanor,’ is quite a magician herself. With one wave of her creative wand, she turns ordinary things like silverware into wind chimes, and a pair of old boots into beautiful golden footwear that coordinate perfectly with an outfit.

Abby began shopping at Goodwill at age 15. What originated as a trip to find a dress for a Homecoming dance turned into a lifelong conviction – to be sustainable, creative and charitable – all of which is why she wholeheartedly supports Goodwill.

Each time she shops there, she exercises each of those things:

  • Purchasing second-hand clothes reduces your carbon footprint (sustainability)
  • Discovering ways to utilize Goodwill finds in your wardrobe gets your clever juices flowing (creativity)
  • Shopping at Goodwill supports its mission of helping others prepare for, find and retain employment (charity)

Today about half of Abby’s wardrobe is split between Goodwill purchases, and hand-me-downs or clothes she’s swapped with friends. She enjoys shopping at the Waterloo and Lakemore locations most often, seeing what’s available and building an outfit or craft project based on her finds. She draws inspiration for her outfits from a variety of things including street-style photos and runway shows. But she says generally she tries to just be inspired by the store’s selection.  And like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, she effortlessly puts together fashion-forward outfits that are fit for their own magazine feature.

Goodwill finds are also great for craft projects, too
In addition to a keen fashion sense, Abby has quite the knack for making amazing crafts from her Goodwill finds as well. Like her inspiration for her fashion sense, she gets ideas from photos, runway shows, magazines and the Internet.  Many of these projects are for home decor, but she also makes upcycled fashion crafts – like tassle-string flats, watch straps, embellished jeans and a DIY Cleveland Browns jacket, as well as Halloween costumes — including Star Wars and Drop Dead Gorgeous-themed pieces.

While there’s so many to choose from, Abby says her favorite project was an upcycled fashion craft – a pair of pom-pom sandals she recreated from a photo. She found ‘the perfect pair’ of sandals from Goodwill, safety pinned some pom-poms on them and voila! A pair of shoes that matched her inspiration – just like magic.

a6Express your own creativity at in-store crafting demonstrations

Abby loves to share her creativity with others, not just through her DIY and personal blogs, but with in-store crafting demonstrations at Goodwill store locations. She’s hosted about 12 so far, and says participants enjoy seeing how their Goodwill finds can be used in a new way. Abby says people are often surprised about how creative they really are once they begin working on something. At one event, participants decorated white plates with permanent markers, and many who said they weren’t very artistic walked away with sh9ome great pieces. Crafts made at other events included a cassette tape pencil holder, a Halloween banner made from book pages, a T-shirt bag and a tea cup planter.


Abby’s fashion sense and craft projects using Goodwill items certainly uphold her values of being sustainable, creative and charitable. So, if you feel like learning some of her ‘magic tricks’ in creating stylish outfits or fun home décor, be sure to watch for her DIY craft projects under the blog section of the Goodwill website and read her personal blogs. Who knowA7s….you may even learn how to pull a rabbit out of a hat, too.


~ Kim Rohr