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You Never Know What You Will Find at Goodwill

Written by Kendel Renee Haycook

Artist Catherine Nugent has been a lifelong thrifter. A costumer by trade, she would shop at Goodwill for her clothing. It wasn’t until six years ago she discovered the bins at the Goodwill Outlet located on Scott Hamilton Drive.


“The Goodwill Boutique as I call it,” she says with a smile. “I just have so much fun with the treasure hunt.”


Catherine’s latest art show is called “Think Outside the Bins” and is on display at the M2 Gallery on South Main until October 13th. The pieces contain items found and inspired by her almost daily adventures to the Outlet. Each one tells a part of a deeper and more personal story.


She had never used what she had found at Goodwill in her art before. This endeavor really began about a year and a half ago. Catherine’s husband of 54 years had passed away.


“I really wanted to make my husband proud of who I have continued to be and how I have continued to evolve. He was always incredibly supportive of my art.”

One day, while in her studio, she noticed that her drawings had become very active. She soon realized what she was drawing was the mayhem she found in the large blue bins at Goodwill.


“It takes special people to shop in the bins because they have to not be skittish about the chaos that ensues.”

Her drawings led her back to the bins, and she took a few photographs. Then, she started to play with the idea of making wraps and bundles. Not wanting to control the chaos or manage it, but to capture it and how it made her feel.


“I started shopping for things that surprised me, pleased me, and made me happy.”

This show is comprised of drawings and mixed media sculptures displayed as

small vignettes that tell the story of her healing journey. They detail how she feels,

what she sees, and what she has experienced. Each piece speaks to the power of

the “dumpster dive.”


“It’s brought me back to a year and a half after my husband’s death and I don’t think

I have been happier in my life.”


One of her drawings on display is an artistic rendering of an elephant jumping out of a sea of other stuffed animals as if to magically call to the observer, “Pick me!”

She has a sculpture in the show called “The Green Family Joins the Tiny House Movement.” It’s a small shopping cart filled with various items with a red house tucked under the basket while being led by a green dinosaur. The piece was inspired by her desire to move into a tiny house.

“At the bins, I find so many things that are hand-crafted and I pause and think about them and the people who have made them. Then I think about who they had been gifted to and then I think about them releasing it.”

With her vibrant spirit, Catherine seems to have no problem making friends wherever she goes. Through her visits, she has gotten to know her fellow shoppers and the people who work at Goodwill. Each person greets her with a large smile on their face knowing that their day is now better after seeing and talking to her.


“I realized how important the bins were to the people who go there. They shop for their families and shop for themselves, but many shop to resell and they count on that income. Some live on it meagerly and some do it to supplement Social Security.”

When you find an item at Goodwill, remember that this is only one part of its journey. It may be damaged and discolored with a few parts missing, but it was once cherished. It will find a new life after it leaves the bins. Its story isn’t over.

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