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Saturday, November 9, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A Shining Sale -- All That Glitters: Seattle Goodwill Racks Up The Deals

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

They're expecting long lines when the Seattle Goodwill store opens this morning at 9 a.m. It's the All That Glitters sale today, and bargain shoppers know it can be the best day of the year to save a bundle on an off-the-shoulder prom gown, a shimmering lame shirt, a beaded vest, a dinner jacket (for him or her) or a golden bag, most in gently worn condition, a few obviously new.

On the 61 racks filling the nonprofit store's special-event room today are more than 3,000 such items, culled from the many thousands of donations that come into Goodwill boxes each year.

Karen Wooding, the store's warehouse manager, checks all those boxes and bags, saving the best of the party wear for the annual sale. She also spends time "shopping" local retailers, discounters and consignment shops - not to buy, but to know prices so she can set hers appropriately.

"Here's a Laura Ashley black acetate dress, almost new, size 7. It could have sold for $150; I've marked it $19.95," she says. She pulls out a gold-beaded white silk dress, still dangling a $250 tag from a major discount store. "It would have been more elsewhere. I marked it $69.95, one of the most expensive dresses in our sale."

There are lots of upscale labels: a black-velvet-bodiced, red-satin-skirted Scott McClintock dress, perfect for a winter ball, size 11, $49.95. A Carole Little knit dress, black with gold yarn work, size 14, $19.95. A Saks Fifth Avenue red knit dress, size small, $14.95. A sequined white cashmere sweater, medium, $19.95. A long rack of sparkly cap-sleeved sequined tops from India in many sizes, $9.95 to $19.95, depending on condition and elaborateness. A swirling black satin cape with velvet collar, $12.95.

There are shoes, belts, hats and hat boxes, purses and other assorted glittery goods, and a big rack of quality T-shirts decorated, beaded, fringed, painted or otherwise embellished, beginning at $1.95.

Many of the sale garments are elegant enough to wear to the fanciest affair; others are more appropriate for an office or family get-together. A set of three green satin off-the-shoulder dresses could outfit bridesmaids for a wedding - were they store samples or donated by all the bridesmaids? There are a few wedding dresses, and some white lace or other-fabric ensembles for a bride.

Whether you find the perfect outfit at a great price all depends on taste and size. A gorgeous and seemingly custom-made black velvet suit in size 7 is worthless to a size-16 shopper, even priced at $19.95. And though one shopper might adore the many-layered tulle skirt of a flashy silver lame dress (also $19.95), another might consider it best suited for a kiddie dress-up box.

One major caveat: There are no dressing rooms for the sale. You buy garments hoping they fit (you have seven days to return items with tags and receipts for store credit), or you try them on over your clothes.

"We have some shoppers who always wear body stockings under their clothes so they can take off enough to try things," says Carol Vogt, a store spokeswoman.

And lest veteran and sometimes too-pushy shoppers attempt to grab armloads of garments from the racks before anyone else has a chance to look: Hangers are hung in alternating directions so they must be taken from the racks, one at a time.

That those shoppers come in droves is a sure signal there are good buys. It's all for a good cause. Goodwill profits support many job-training and adult-education programs.

Goodwill donations come to the store from 20 area drop sites. If you have donations, the main store's drop site is on Dearborn Street, just west of Rainier Avenue. Or call 329-1000 for other sites.

Leftovers from the Glitters sale - in past years about 60 percent of the goods have been sold - will be divided between the main store and affiliates in Everett, Bremerton, Lynnwood and Tukwila.

At the Seattle store, colored tags help rotate stock. Anything on the floor for more than a month goes half-price on Thursdays, then drops to 99 cents on Sundays. Later this month the store will add a textiles outlet where leftover fabric goods will go for 99 cents a pound.

The store has other events through the year that highlight some of its amazing donations, plus a wonderful little museum that documents local history through donations. Last weekend's Timeless Treasures auction of 190 quilts drew more than 200 bidders and raised $28,000. Two sold for $900 each.

"You wonder, like you do with many things that come into the store, did the people really know what they were donating?" comments Vogt. "Like many of the dresses at the Glitters sale, we get and sell some incredible things." -----------------------------------------------------------------

IF YOU GO: All That Glitters sale, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Seattle Goodwill, 1400 S. Lane St., off Dearborn Street just west of Rainier Avenue. Information: 329-1000.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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