If you think you've made thrifty shopping an art form, you can audition this week for the 2nd Annual Goodwill Thriftiest Shopper Contest.
The popular contest is back, with Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida Inc. officials now looking for Southwest Florida's best bargain hunter.
Auditions for what is formally known as the "So You Think You're Thrifty" contest began this week and will run through Tuesday, July 28.
Karen Arnold, a North Fort Myers resident, was one
of the four finalists last year during the thriftiest shopper contest.
In north Cape Coral, auditions will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 20, at the 1500 Pine Island Road Goodwill location. Other locations and information is available on goodwillswfl.org.
The winner will receive prizes, including a $250 Goodwill shopping spree, and will appear in a Goodwill advertisement.
"This contest was incredibly popular last year," said Kirsten O'Donnell, Goodwill's director of public relations. "Since then, we've had a steady stream of people asking if we'd do the contest again this year, so we should have a great turnout. We're auditioning people from Port Charlotte down to Naples and across to Clewiston."
If you can't make it to those locations, O'Donnell said an application with a photo will be accepted.
"We're videotaping an interview," she said. "If they cannot make it, we need them to send us a completed entry form and recent photo to our main office."
Last year, the winner was 19-year-old college student Amy Burns from
Sanibel. A lover of vintage clothing, Burns said shopping at thrift stores is more than you think.
"It's not just saving money," Burns said. "When you spend money (at thrift stores) you are spending it wisely."
She noted the good work that Goodwill Industries performs, as did
other contestants from last year.
She offered a few tips to new contestants.
"I think it is to dress appropriately, everything I wore was from Goodwill," Burns said. "If you have clothes from there, wear them and emphasize your connection with the store."
She said she often shops at Goodwill.
"I'm definitely what you would call a frequent shopper," she said. "But it is not how much you spend. You can browse. I really love going there."
Karen Arnold, a North Fort Myers resident, was one of the four finalists last year. She also noted that shopping at a Goodwill store helps its mission of helping others.
"The mission of Goodwill is awesome," Arnold said. "I don't have to shop at thrift stores, but I choose to. They are eclectic, unique and items carry memories with them."
She said she prefers thrift store shopping - particularly at Goodwill - because of the staff in particular. Mall or outlet shopping can be impersonal, she said.
"Goodwill isn't like that, you get to know the managers and staff," Arnold said. "Sometimes I get a hug. I buy clothes, household goods, jewelry, craft items - everything. I'm very passionate about it."
Concerning the contest itself, Arnold said, "It was great fun. I'm glad the attention was brought to the hobby of being thrifty. I'm there all the time - from North Fort Myers to Estero."
Concerning the shops themselves, Arnold said she likes the organization.
"They color coordinate everything, so if you are looking for something specific, you can go, to say, yellow shirts, and see the textures and sizes," she said. "Sometimes I just pop in to see if they have something new. I use a frequent shopper and donor card, which they punch for discounts."
Contest entry forms are available at Goodwill's 24 Southwest Florida
Retail and Donation Centers, and on Goodwill's website (goodwillswfl.org).
Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida Inc. operates 24 retail and donation centers in Southwest Florida, in order to support its mission of helping people with disabilities and other disadvantages overcome their barriers to employment and independence.
Programs include career training and placement services, income-sensitive housing for people with disabilities and senior citizens, youth mentoring, the Four Wheels for Work vehicle assistance program and the L.I.F.E. Academy Charter School.
For more information about Goodwill's programs and services, visit goodwillswfl.org. The main office number is 995-2106.