Budget-Friendly Camping in the PNW

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
May 25, 2016

Here in the great Pacific Northwest, camping is a favorite pastime. We are surrounded by some of the most amazing campgrounds and backcountry that the country has to offer. (We may be biased, though.) Washington State is home to 186 State Parks, three National parks, and hundreds of other county and privately-run parks with camping options ranging from easy-access sites to backcountry-permit-required hike-in areas with an incredible variety of environmental features and vistas.

Camping can be an easy and affordable way to get out of the city for the weekend, unplug, and enjoy some relaxation and rest time. Gathering the gear needed can be expensive—if not done right. Here are some tips on how to camp in the PNW on a budget:

  1. Of course our first tip is going to be to look for camping gear at Goodwill! Because we live in a region with a huge passion for playing outside, we also see a lot of camping, survival, and outdoor gear donated—making us a great place to shop for that high-end gear at an affordable price.
  2. When you go gear-hunting at Goodwill, peruse the whole store. Certain items will be grouped together—like sleeping bags—or you’ll usually find camp stoves, tents, foldup chairs, and lanterns on the same aisle—but other items might fit in different categories. For example, you can often find those last-forever vintage pieces—like backpacking packs, Stanley thermoses, and old school Coleman items in collectibles.
  3. It is often less expensive to have a piece of quality camping gear repaired, or to order a replacement part, than to buy the item new. A lot of high-quality camping gear brands sell products that will last for years—and have amazing repair options that you can take advantage of even when you’ve thrifted the item. (Check out REI’s Repair services, too!) Companies like Coleman have standardized a number of pieces to their products to make replacing parts easy. So, if you see that $15 Coleman stove on our shelf, but it’s missing the pressure regulator—you’ll save $30-$150 on a camp stove by buying the thrifted stove, and ordering the replacement part.
  4. Camping with a group can help cut down on individual costs. For example, only one member of the party needs to bring a camp stove—and another can bring a pot and pan—and another might bring a big-enough-to-share tent. It might even be a fun pre-camp-trip event to hit up your favorite Goodwill and divide up the items needed for your trip.
  5. Stick to government-ran campgrounds. Private campgrounds, while they may have more amenities, tend to be a little more expensive. By staying on national, state, or county land, you’ll save anywhere from about $10-$30 per night for your site.
  6. Camping on a holiday weekend, and can’t find an open site? Have a passport? Go north. Keep going into Canada. Many of the holidays we observe here in the USA are not observed in Canada, and their parks aren’t as busy on those weekends. British Columbia is Pacific Northwest, too—and has many of the same stunning costal, mountain, and east-of-the-Cascades environments that Washington State does. Access to camping in the BC Provincial Parks is similarly-priced to domestic national and state parks.
  7. Buy your campfire wood locally where you’re camping. Because there are often restrictions on what types of wood you burn in different areas—especially if you’re crossing state or national borders—it’s a good idea to wait to purchase wood locally. Planning for this will help you avoid needing to buy wood twice—or ditch the wood you’ve already paid for at the border. Check with the campground you’re heading to to see if they sell wood bundles on-site!

Not an experienced camper, but want to start? Here’s a list of some items you can hunt for at Goodwill to start building your camping gear collection: tents, sleeping bags, tarp, rope, camp stoves, lanterns, flashlights, foldup chairs, a “camping kitchen” (pots, pans, cups, utensils, etc.), your morning coffee mug, moka pot/French press (coffee is important while camping), coolers, water bottles, hiking shoes/boots, outdoor/active wear, backpacks, towels, and more! 


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Sustainable Office: For Startups & Small Business

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
May 20, 2016

Seattle is full of startups, small businesses, and smaller non-profit organizations doing amazing things in and for our community. Many of Seattle’s once-small businesses grew up to be national and global companies—headquartered in the city.

Seattle Goodwill wants to connect the bigger and growing companies with the smaller businesses to create a more sustainable business community. As companies grow and move, we’re inviting them to donate their reusable office furniture to our Sustainable Office program. Companies like Nordstrom, CenturyLink Field, and a prestigious law firm that recently relocated out of the Columbia Center have already donated—and some of their materials are available right now in our Sustainable Office Popup Shop.

For small businesses, startups, and smaller non-profits it provides a place to find quality, affordable office furniture like chairs, desSks, filing cabinets, and cubicle walls. Sustainable Office allows budget-restricted companies and organizations to find furniture that fits their needs as well as their finances. It’s more than just creating affordable options, too—it creates a sustainable cycle between our local businesses, big and small.

Seattle Goodwill Director of Business Development and Strategies Brent Frerichs said of the program, "Sustainable Offfice is a great way for businesses to be environmental stewards and contribute to the community; and the furniture on sale offers a tremendous opportunity for business owners who want great office furniture at a terrific price. This is yet another way that Seattle Goodwill builds the community through environmental stewardship as well as job training and education."

In addition to building a sustainable cycle, and giving smaller companies affordable options, it also supports our free job training and education programs, leading to impacted lives, families, and ultimately communities.

Now through June 30, stop by the special events area of our flagship store on Dearborn to peruse our Sustainable Office Popup Shop for affordable office furniture finds with a big community impact. 

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Sustainable Office: Renovate, Donate

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
May 17, 2016

Every day in the greater Seattle area, local businesses and headquarters upsize, downsize, renovate, relocate, and change—it might be a switch from traditional desks to standing desks—it might be that your company has finally outgrown its startup space—or maybe you just found a better deal on a lease. If your company is in that process, Goodwill wants to partner with you to help ease that transition in a way that makes your business more eco-friendly, and supports our community.

On Monday, we launched our first-ever Sustainable Office Popup Shop in the special events area of our flagship store. We’re inviting businesses in our community that are currently going through office space changes, to donate their unneeded office furniture—chairs, desks, cubicle walls, tables, file cabinets, and all. We can help your business by picking up the donation—getting the ball rolling is as easy as emailing our Director Business Development and Strategies Brent Frerichs. It’s a simple way to get the clutter of your used furniture out of the way for the big move.

In addition to making the move a little easier on the business, it also helps us, as a community, keep these items out of landfills. Last year, thanks to our generous donors, Seattle Goodwill kept over 50 million pounds of materials out of landfills—and we want to do more this year! Seattle Goodwill is committed to sustainability, and we see this as an excellent opportunity to partner with our community to make that happen.

In our Sustainable Office Popup Shop’s first week, we’ll have donations from a prestigious law firm that recently relocated out of the Columbia Center, CenturyLink Field, and Nordstrom for sale. When organizations like these support the Sustainable Office program, we can make a BIG impact on the sustainability of our fast-paced and ever-changing business community in our region.

Sustainable Office isn’t just good for the environment, though—it’s also good for smaller businesses, startups, and non-profits who are looking for quality office furniture that won’t break the budget.

Is your office moving or renovating and you have some furniture to donate? Email Brent and join other Seattle businesses who are taking part in Sustainable Office. 

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Goodwill + Luxe = Convenient Donations

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
May 15, 2016

We all have that bag or box lurking somewhere in our homes, just waiting to make it to the car—and ultimately to Goodwill, right? But because life is busy, sometimes it can be difficult to actually get to a donation site to drop your bag off.

Thanks to a new partnership with Luxe, an app-based on-demand valet parking service, we can help—and you’ll save a ton of time. Now through June 1, when you use Luxe to park your car, leave your donation on the passenger seat of your car, and Luxe will take care of it. Not only will your donations make it to Goodwill—but every time you use Luxe to take care of your donations and parking, Luxe will donate $1 to Goodwill to support our job training and education programs.

It’s a serious win-win situation. It saves YOU a bunch of time—since you won’t be hunting for parking or making a special trip to Goodwill—AND it helps us provide the critical job training programs that we do in our community. As an added bonus, when you use Luxe, you can also have them wash and fuel your car. It’s a great option for those days when you’re on the go!

It’s easy to do, too. Simply download their app (Apple | Google Play), let them know where you’re headed, and they’ll meet you there to pick up your car and park it for you—label the box or bag “Goodwill” and let the valet know the items on the passenger seat are for and that’s it! When you’re ready to get your car back, use the app to let a valet know where you want it, and they’ll bring it to you.

So next time you’re headed to one of those pain-to-park areas of our city, get that lurking bag or box of donations in the car, and let Luxe take care of it for you—all while supporting Goodwill

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Coming to our Flagship Store: Sustainable Office Popup Shop

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
May 13, 2016

What happens to office furniture when a company renovates?

At Goodwill, we’re working to ensure that furniture finds its way to a new home, avoids winding up in a landfill, and provides opportunities for free job training and education in our community. Starting Monday, May 16, we’re hosting a popup shop in our special events area at our Flagship store on Dearborn.  This popup shop does four key things for our community:

  1. FOR DONORS: It provides companies who are renovating or upgrading their offices with a place to donate their used office furniture. Desks, chairs, couches, and more—are all accepted. It is an easy way to avoid the hassle that comes with getting rid of multiple pieces of bulky office furniture and equipment.
  2. FOR SHOPPERS: It provides smaller businesses—like startups and smaller nonprofit organizations—an opportunity to purchase quality office furniture at an affordable prices.
  3. FOR SUSTAINABLITY: It gives our local businesses a way to make their offices more eco-friendly and sustainable—keeping many items and many pounds of materials out of landfills. Seattle Goodwill is committed to sustainability, and this is one of the many ways we’re looking to serve our community in that way.
  4. FOR OUR COMMUNITY: When you shop at Goodwill it helps people in our community who are facing significant barriers to economic opportunity get the education and training that they need to overcome those barriers. When you donate to or shop at Seattle Goodwill, your purchases support our job training and education programs. Who knows—maybe one of our program graduates will be one of your employees someday!

If your office is renovating, and you’d like to donate, please reach out to Brent.Frerichs@seattlegoodwill.org. We can arrange pickups for donated office furniture!

If you need to find the right pieces of office furniture for your office—simply come down to our Flagship store on Dearborn to shop the selection that other local companies—like Nordstrom—have generously donated!


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