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Easy Pop Culture Halloween Costumes

October 13, 2013

KickAss3-lgAre you a pop culture junkie? Halloween is the perfect time to embrace your weakness for all things trendy with a creative costume straight out of the pages of People magazine. Goodwill has everything you need to build an award-winning costume that is not only budget-friendly, but also supports job training programs for local people.

Game of Thrones – The citizens of Westeros and beyond not only kept us on the edge of our seats this year, but they also offered a wide range of costume inspiration. Going as a Black Brother, wildling or Stark family member ensures you’ll stay toasty while trick or treating. Look for rugged pieces with warm neutral (or black) layers, faux fur and leather. A King’s Landing look is more glam: search for velvets, embroidered details, bridesmaid dresses or Renaissance fair garb in red and gold to get the Lannisters’ luxurious look. Across the Narrow Sea, Khaleesi bares more skin so search for sheer scarves, bolts of airy fabric, maxi skirts and arm bands. Practice your braiding for perfect “Mother of Dragons” hair.

Orange is the New Black – Netflix’s latest original series makes for an easy group costume: orange or beige scrubs can quickly transform you into Piper, Alex, Crazy Eyes or any of your favorites. Carry a mat and you’re Yoga Jones. Don a chef coat with a short auburn wig and suddenly you’re dinner-slinging, chicken-chasing Red. Have some guys in your group? Have them sport blue shirts, dark pants and a radio, and you’re a mustache away from passing as Mendez.

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge - 2013 was a big year for Royal watchers. The birth of Prince George saw Kate keeping her gorgeous style through her pregnancy and into new mom territory. For the couple’s “leaving the hospital” look, don a blue polka dotted dress, perfectly wavy hair and a swaddled baby doll (Kate) or a blue button-down with navy pants (William). Enlist the help of a few friends to dress up as paparazzi to follow you throughout the evening. All you need to embrace the shutterbug look is a comfortable thrift outfit (jeans and flannel shirt work great), fedora hat, running shoes, camera or recording device, and notebook.

The Great Gatsby – Flapper style is a perennial Halloween favorite, but this year it enjoys an added pop culture boost from the glitzy film adaption of the classic Fitzgerald novel. To get the 1920s look, ladies should shimmer in beaded dresses accompanied by fabulous feathers and fur, glimmering hair accessories and plenty of jewelry. Men, don a black or white tie with a little bling of your own. For those of you spending Halloween in a warmer climate, West and East Egg summer style requires light-colored three-piece suits, suspenders and straw hats for the men and pale, loose-fitting shift dresses for ladies.

Superhero Season – Between the summer blockbusters Man of Steel, Kick-Ass 2 and Iron Man 3, it’s never been a better time to embrace your inner superhero. Layer a Superman tee under a suit with the perfect Clark Kent glasses to become Superman in transition. To get Robert Downey Jr.’s look in Iron Man 3, dress in head-to-toe maroon (including gloves), duct tape and gold face paint. A head-to-toe green ensemble lined with yellow masking tape and yellow gloves is what you need for Kick-Ass, while a purple wig, black eye mask and signature school girl garb (plaid pleated mini, purple tights and purple top) is what you need for Hit-Girl. The options are literally endless for thrifted superhero combinations!

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Costume ideas reprinted with permission from our friends at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries. What will you be this Halloween?

Free Job Training Classes for Veterans

October 10, 2013

iStock_000018457828XSmallLocal veterans and their families may get a leg up in their job search under a new collaborative program that offers enhanced computer and productivity training for the workplace.

The Veterans Productivity Pathway is a free program designed to prepare veterans and their dependents for positions in productivity-related jobs, such as project management, production and operations. This new initiative is the result of a collaborative partnership between Lean Sigma Professionals, The Employers Association and Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.

Participation in the Veterans Productivity Pathway is first-come, first-serve for up to 30 qualifying veterans. The program is designed in three consecutive phases that build upon one another, including Excel training, a three-day Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification and a six-day Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. Lean Six Sigma is a managerial concept combining Lean and Six Sigma that results in increased productivity in the workplace. Multiple dates for the Excel training are offered in October. The three-day Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification will be offered November 5-7 and November 12-14. The six-day Lean Six Sigma Green Belt classes will be offered in December and January.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Know a vet who may be interested in participating? For more information, contact Angela Amos at (704) 332-0262 or via email at

DIY Cup and Saucer Birdfeeder

October 8, 2013

I love to get creative with my Goodwill finds, and these bird feeders certainly fit the bill for a unique, yet simple, DIY project. Here are six easy steps to turn a mismatched cup and saucer set into a whimsical and creative bird feeder:


  1. Find a cute cup and saucer set for a steal at your nearest Goodwill retail store! While you’re there, you can also buy some mismatched spoons to create a perch for your feathered friends if you would like.
  2. Purchase a pipe and pipe cap from your local hardware store in your desired color or metal. Use copper piping for a sleek and shiny look or go affordable with black pipe that will blend into your garden plants. Make sure the pipe is slightly longer than you want your feeder to stand so that you have the ability to hammer it into the soil securely.
  3. Securely glue the cup (and spoon) to the saucer. Gorilla glue works great for this. Once that is dried, glue the pipe cap to the base of your cup and saucer combo. Try to get it centered to prevent wobbling when the birds land on it. Let it dry completely.
  4. Pick a place outside to put your feeder and pound the pipe into the ground by about a foot or until it will not wobble or fall over.
  5. Carefully line up the pipe cap glued to the bottom of your feeder with the pipe in the ground to make sure your feeder will stay on.
  6. Fill your feeder with bird seed and enjoy the show!

Liz Nelson is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston and a regular contributor to Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @

Halloween Inspiration at Goodwill

October 2, 2013

halloweendecorLooking for a unique Halloween costume that will turn heads but won’t empty your pockets? At Goodwill, you’ll find everything you need to create the one-of-a-kind look that you desire.

By purchasing gently used items, you’ll save on your Halloween costumes and decorations, and no one will know that you didn’t buy new! Not only will you save big, but your purchase will help provide job training services to people like Fletcher who face barriers to employment in the Charlotte region.

zombie-toddHere are some easy costume ideas you can implement using items from your local Goodwill. And remember to share a photo of your finished creation with us via Facebook or Twitter!

Zombie: Find a ball gown or vintage suit. Purchase face makeup to create the ‘dead’ look and smear fake blood on your face, hands or clothing.

Vampire: Pick out a button-down shirt and black pants. Create a dark-colored cape from a secondhand tablecloth, sheet or curtain. Top off the look with white face paint, black eye makeup and fangs.

Pirate: Pair a white button-down shirt with black pants and black vest. Add a sash around your waist, a seaworthy hat and pirate makeup to complete the costume.

Witch: Grab a black dress and black pointed hat. Wear a long dark wig, tights and black shoes. Finish the look with face paint and a broom.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What will you be this Halloween? Share your ideas in the comments.

Success Story: Edith

September 27, 2013

IMG_7747crSince the 1980s, thousands of U.S. jobs have been lost as manufacturers began moving their operations overseas. A 20-year veteran of the garment industry, Edith Sanchez came to a crossroads in her career when her position as a tailor was eliminated as her employer filed for bankruptcy.

Edith relocated to Charlotte from New Jersey in 2010, seeking a fresh start and new opportunities. But as a single mother of three kids, she once again faced challenges to finding employment in the retail industry, which required time away from her family in the evenings and on weekends.

“I knew I needed to improve my skills in technology and computers,” said Edith. “It was important to me to find a position that would also allow me to continue my education.”

Edith enrolled in the Banking & Customer Service training program at Goodwill. In addition to gaining competitive skills in keyboarding, computer applications and customer service excellence, the program armed Edith with networking and career search strategies. These skills paid off when Edith met a local business owner and, over the course of several discussions, developed a business idea and proposed partnership for offering specialized services to Charlotte’s Hispanic/Latino population.

Today Edith is excited about what the future holds. While her business proposal is still in development, she feels confident that the skills, knowledge and network of contacts she gained at Goodwill will enhance her career plans.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Has networking ever helped you land a job? Tell us about it in the comments.

Decorating with Thrifted Finds

September 24, 2013
Toiletry Storage via HGTV
Knobs as hooks via Pinterest
Vintage books via Pinterest

Whenever I’m looking for a quick way to spruce up a room, the first place I turn to is vintage shopping. Most of the time vintage and thrift finds are timeless and affordable, which is perfect when you are looking to make a small change to a room.

I think these toiletry draws and knobs are a fun way to add some extra storage to a room, while I love the ombre effect you can add to a bookcase with old, vintage books.

How do you decorate with vintage and thrift finds?

AllisonPlatteAllison Platte is a Charlotte, NC blogger & internet marketing specialist that writes a lifestyle and fashion blog, In the Queen City.

Sneak Peek at our New Monroe Store

September 20, 2013

Our Monroe retail store has moved and we are excited to celebrate the grand opening of the new location tomorrow, September 21. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m., the public is invited to shop the store beginning at 9:00 a.m. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the great fall merchandise ready to be scooped up.


If you prefer to browse for the best shopping deals, here are our suggestions of the top five items to look for this weekend:

  • Halloween costumes – Let your imagination run wild this Halloween. Goodwill offers unique, gently used items that can help you put together the perfect costume without breaking the bank.
  • Boots – Whether you like chunky heels or sleek silhouettes, our wide selection of boots and shoes will complement any fall wardrobe.
  • Sporting equipment – Fall sports have started and now is the best time to stock up on sporting equipment and athletic gear that can carry over into spring.
  • Books – What better way to curl up on a chilly fall day than with a good book and a cozy blanket?
  • Seasonal décor – Make your house the most festive on the block by decorating with seasonal items like jack-o’-lanterns, spooky scarecrows, Thanksgiving turkeys and much more.
Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are you excited for this fall?


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