How Goodwill Got Me Going

Fashionable Writers

JFEDERICO_HEADSHOTMy name is Joseph Federico, and I used to work for Goodwill of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey. I am a writer by trade, but for over a year, I worked as a donation associate, sorter, and up at the register, where all the action took place. Goodwill was my home. Not only was it a defining experience for me, as I learned tolerance and acceptance, but something else happened. I realized that shopping on a budget was possible!

Most of you may know that when you start off as a writer, it’s seen more as a hobby than a way of life, and earning money from this trade could be a bit trying. Countless donations came in to Goodwill on a daily basis. Some of the men’s clothing donations included brands such as Izod, Brook’s Brothers, and Old Navy. When working on the sales floor, I would organize the clothing, then go through the garments that I wanted to own, oh so badly! “Jackpot,” I thought. My wardrobe would be forever changed. But of course I had to observe the strict Goodwill employee purchase rule: No items may be bought by staff until they have been on the store floor for 24 hours.

When Christmastime came around, and we received gift cards for in-shopping experiences, I went hog wild! My fashionable radar directed me to the men’s section. I picked out dress pants of different pleats and colors, button down shirts, and vests.

One of the vests I purchased was an Alexander Julian piece; it was made of 100% wool. The colors were grey with a navy blue stripe outlining its shape. I had originally worn this piece to interviews with a pair of slacks or dark denim jeans, a solid color shirt, a funky tie, brown or black dress shoes. I still wear the vest to this day when I’m meeting with clients or heading to a book signing. The funny thing is, this timeless piece only cost me $11.99!

Wool Vest from Goodwill NYNJ
Alexander Julian Vest


The button-down, 100% cotton String Theory shirts I bought for $7.99 and a Structure piece at $9.99. That was over 3 years ago, and they still look great! Seeing that they do have a pattern on them, I usually pair them with a solid, cream-colored tie, khaki pants, funky socks, and brown shoes.

Some other things I purchased were accessories and jewelry. One of my favorite pieces, that I still wear today, is a silver-plated ring. It’s masculine looking, almost like a piece of medieval armor. You know Writers, even our hands have to look good!

silver plated ring from Goodwill
silver plated ring from Goodwill

As you can see, I didn’t break the bank, even when I was on a tight budget. The time came for me to leave the great working environment that Goodwill provided, and pursue my dreams of becoming a full-time writer.

Now I own a small vanity publishing company; we help first time authors create a name for themselves. I may shop at other clothing companies, but I’ll never forget my humble beginnings, and the creative outfits that came off the racks at Goodwill.

Joseph Federico has 10+ years experience in the editorial and writing field, and extensive background in marketing. He is a published author (IMAGES OF AMERICA: GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP) and owner of Anchors to Dusk Publishing, LLC ( He is currently working on several book projects, including a project spotlighting the American shopping village of Historic Smithville (release early 2015.) Instagram: Anchors4Authors and Twitter: Anchors2DuskPub

For any style questions or to say hello, email Joseph Federico at

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