Ill Will

Is the nearby Goodwill a fraud?


As we all know, Oberlin students have an ethically-dubious love for thrifting, between the far reaches of Volunteers of America to the Walmart-adjacent “Goodwill.” I’m here to shatter the way that you all may see this Oberlin cultural icon.


It all started with an innocent trip about 3 months ago, where a couple of friends and I stopped by the Goodwill to see if we could spend a friend’s gift card. I had never actually been to this Goodwill, and was surprised to see that the sign on the front of the store did not have a Goodwill logo. It simply had an array of large blue letters, blue letters I later realized could have been purchased from any large signage manufacturer in the country. I remember walking into the Goodwill, and this is when I became truly skeptical -- there was hardly any mention of the Goodwill brand or logo anywhere in the store. In New York City, where I am from, these Goodwills have many examples of their brand across the store -- from promotional posters on the walls to logos on the tags. I thought it was weird, but I didn’t make much of it while I was perusing the store. But during our checkout, things got really interesting. My friend with the gift card attempted to check out of the Goodwill. The employee looked him dead in the eyes and told him that the Goodwill did not take Goodwill gift cards.


I was as confused as you are.


What’s a Goodwill?

What’s a gift card?

Why would a Goodwill not accept a Goodwill gift card?

What is really going on here?


Fourth-year Sally Slade had this to say: “I have thought that Goodwill is a money-laundering operation for as long as I can remember.”


I began to wonder if this Goodwill was hiding something; could it be a money-laundering operation, a secret military lab, Marvin Krislov’s new Oberlin hideout?

I did some further research, by using the locator on the Goodwill website to see if the store was registered as a Goodwill by the larger entity. And to my genuine surprise, it was.

Honestly, I was disappointed. As the smartest guy writing for the Grape, I genuinely believe I was going to break my first front-page story. One so engaging and surprising that everyone on campus would be forced to read it. But my quest wasn’t over, I needed to know why this Goodwill was doing such shady things that would make me suspicious in the first place. And I for one, firmly believe that everyone, regardless of where they purchase their Goodwill gift card should be able to spend it at any of Goodwill’s many locations. “My parents specifically got me a gift card to spend at the Oberlin Goodwill, I am saddened by this news.” - Sadie Grant ‘20. I spoke with an employee at the Oberlin Goodwill for this story, and she told me that she was surprised that the store didn’t even try to run the gift cards. She said that many Goodwill’s have regional-based business model and that could be the cause of the trouble. She seemed flustered, at one point even saying that she hadn’t even heard of a Goodwill gift card. I thought maybe she was hiding something.


I hung up the phone, but I certainly am not hanging up this case.


But for now, let’s consider this Goodwill at least 75% legitimate.

Contact contributing writer Charlie Rinehart-Jones at

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