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I Visited Every Goodwill in Indiana in Search of ’90s Vintage

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Michael Saintil/ONE37pm/Vtgindy Instagram

Ryan Monson is a digital marketing manager and vintage clothing enthusiast. He has spent the past year visiting 120 Goodwill stores in Indiana in search of style and profit. Here is his story in his own words. 

 

"Why are you doing this?” the cashier asked. 

 

“Because I’d be the first one to do it,” I said. 

 

“Fair enough,” she replied as she bagged my clothes.

 

I have had this conversation many times this past year as I journeyed across Indiana visiting every Goodwill in the entire state. After a while, you get used to the confusion and are able to focus on the $40 shirt you just snagged for $2. I am the first person to visit every single Goodwill in Indiana, and this is the story of my crazy journey.

So I have this Instagram called “Vintage Indy” (my handle is @vtgindy) where I post vintage memes, thrifting tips and my thrift-store finds. I reached 5,000 followers in just two years, and I am probably one of the biggest vintage accounts in the city that doesn’t have a physical storefront.

 

In early 2017, I started as Midwest Athletic Supply, selling old hats and jerseys I had lying around. I thought I’d post on Instagram and if I sold something, cool. But I had no idea how it would go. Funny how a small step with no expectations can really pan out.

 

I remember the first person who messaged me wanting to buy my San Francisco Giants jersey that I had posted. A month in and my first DM. I hadn’t even set up a PayPal account yet. An hour later, I had my first sale. I have been hooked ever since. 

Fast-forward to now: I changed the business’s name and I focus strictly on ’90s through early ’00s clothing. I’ve become known not only for the heat I find, but for my focus on friendships over profit. Around July 2018, I was brainstorming and was thinking, “Most thrifters stay around the city they reside in, so...what if I went outside Indianapolis? What if I went to the big cities that were hours away, like Evansville or Fort Wayne, or the places in the middle of nowhere? What if I went to every Goodwill in Indiana?” Whoa. I could call it “Goodwill Hunting: Indiana.” Great name, right?

Most thrifters stay around the city they reside in, so...what if I went outside Indianapolis?

I could record the journey, get inventory and maybe even get some publicity for doing something that no one has ever done. After counting all the stores in my state, the number to visit was 120. Sure, it would be a bulky task with all the driving, the planning and the money spent on inventory, but those are all excuses. I’m going to live my life saying yes. The upside was too high. 

 

So I went to my first store. I didn’t worry about the details. I just went, shopped and filmed. My first test was a trip to Terre Haute. This would be the first multiple-store trip with six stores and a two-hour drive. Could I handle the drive and the exhaustion of thrifting and filming? I was about to find out. Well, I found some cool pieces and knew on the drive back that even though I was tired, I had to keep doing this. It was going to be worth it. 

 

Along the trip, I found quite a few surprising pieces. Here are some of them:

 

  1. A Logo Athletic Dallas Stars Splash hat that I bought for 99¢ and sold for $30

  2. Elvis Presley shirt from 1971 that I sold for $25 

 

Honorable mentions: 

 

  1. “Austin 3:16” Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt 

  2. Bootleg Guess “Guess What I’m a Dancer” shirt

  3. Vintage D.A.R.E. shirt

  4. Several IU and Purdue pieces

  5. Pacers gear

 

I’m writing this article on the day that I finished store number 120. It’s surreal to look back over the past year and reflect on what I’ve found and the thoughts I’ve had along the way. I think I learned that the clothes I find usually reflect the culture of their city. College towns had college gear. Places near Chicago had Chicago-themed pieces. Urban areas had hip-hop tees—and Disney for some reason. *Shrugs shoulders*

 

As a whole, I’m profoundly proud of myself. I thought of something crazy, saw it as achievable and I did it. You can jump over barriers, bust through walls and still hit a home run from a curveball. I’m evidence of that.

 

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