The annual Glitter Sale at the South Dearborn Street Goodwill store is a fundraiser for job training and education programs. And it’s a venue for the city’s most stylish to hunt for bargains among a trove of designer and vintage clothes and unique items.
While Seattleites are hardly renowned for their fashion sense, for any seriously stylish person there’s one can’t-miss event this weekend, a hunt for to-die-for bargains in a setting a world away from any stuffy high-end boutique.
The annual Glitter Sale at the Goodwill on South Dearborn is full of fun. It’s a place the Queer Eye five might well take some mossbacked Seattleite for a wardrobe makeover. It’s … absolutely fabulous.
On Saturday, music pumped up the volume as good-looking women betraying a sharp sense of dress style, and even a few head-turning men, pulled clothes on and off, all the while laughing with friends and seeming to have the time of their lives rifling through the curated fashion items.
If you want validation of this event’s cachet, meet Unika Guilmet, 42, from New York City via more recently the Central District. A wardrobe stylist, no less, she was there to shop for her clients, whom she described as “pillars of the community.”
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Guilmet was searching for upscale professional attire, as well as evening wear and fur coats, to cover “a lot of special events for my clients” over the holidays.
And what about her stylish self? “I’ll definitely get a piece or two,” she said, with a sparkle in her eye.
Gillian De Bruno, 34, a child and family therapist who had come up from Portland with a girlfriend for the sale, flourished a bright pink dress with a sparkly top and a frilly, flouncy skirt — an “early ’90s cocktail dress,” she and her friend guessed.
“I’m really excited to try this on,” said De Bruno, whose curly locks are dyed purple and who wears a lower-lip jewel piercing. “It’s the silliness I love. Life is supposed to be fun.”
The pink dress was way too small when she struggled into it, so she shimmied it off for her friend to try on, then switched her attention to a gold-colored sheath dress.
Nearby, Katie Lewandowski, 31, a middle-school teacher from West Seattle, and her friend Milda Bandza, 30, an optometrist from White Center, had little wagons already full of purchases.
Both frequently shop in thrift stores, though both were first-timers to the Glitter Sale.
“I’ve been wanting to come here since I moved to Seattle six years ago,” said Lewandowski, though she added that just last week in the regular Goodwill store she’d found a pair of Prada shoes. “If you just come for the Glitter Sale, you’re not officially a thrifter,” she said.
Lewandowski and Bandza, on the advice of a friend who’s a veteran of many Glitter Sales, each came wearing leggings and a tanktop, all the better to try on dresses and shirts in the aisle because there are no dressing rooms.
Bandza, her striking, white-gold hair tightly braided and set off with a knit woolen beanie, said she’s committed herself over the past two months to buy only resale clothes in an effort to be environmentally conscious. Her catch of the day was a pair of Nike Air Pythons.
Asa Irwin, 57, a fundraiser for the College Success Foundation who lives in Bellevue, was looking, and feeling, wonderful in the luxurious dark fur jacket she’d just tried on. “It just feels great,” she said, running her hands down the soft fur. “So warm and roomy.”
Real fur? She thought so. What kind? Who knows. She got it for $40. “The prices are crazy,” she said.
No one was more fabulous at Saturday’s sale than Florin Buiciuc, 32, an office manager from Belltown with a finely groomed beard, the look of a model, and resplendent in a newly purchased full-length, silvery black fur coat.
Where will he wear such an ostentatious item of clothing? “I’ll wear it out,” he said, as if it were nothing more striking than a plaid shirt.
“I’m all about costumes, events, any excuse to dress up,” Buiciuc said.
He had just spent about $300, filling five bags with finds, including six fur coats and jackets of various lengths, shiny gold and silver jackets, and a metal bracelet into which was embedded a finely jeweled watch.
The annual event is a fundraiser for Goodwill job training and education programs.
Goodwill spokeswoman Katherine Boury said the organization selects its best items and sets them aside for the two-day sale up to six months in advance.
Attendees first must find a parking spot in the overflowing lot, then get a wristband to get in line for entry to the special big room at the back of the massive Goodwill store, where a limited number are allowed in at any given time to prevent chaos.
Some in the know go to extreme lengths to get a head start on the bargains. Boury said the first person in line when the sale opened at 9 a.m. Saturday had arrived at 5:30 a.m. Friday and camped out overnight.
The sale is open again from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The racks and shelves are constantly restocked over the weekend, Boury said, so that someone arriving even Sunday afternoon will find items that weren’t available earlier.
“These are designer and vintage items, unique pieces,” she said. “It’s a treasure hunt.”