08/12/2011 05:58 pm ET | Updated Oct 12, 2011

Thrifting in My Backyard: Grand Opening and a Grand Old Time

My family and I had the opportunity to attend the most recent Goodwill store opening in our area this past Saturday. This new, exciting thrifting opportunity took place in Fairfax, Va., at 9960 Main St. and represented the first time I had the opportunity to attend a store opening with my entire family.

It is always a party when a Goodwill store opens, so I was excited to attend. Hundreds of people wait for the doors to open, maneuvering in the parking lot just to find a space to park; there are food, drinks, a moon bounce and lots of fun. And I always enjoy the thrill of knowing that one more Goodwill store will create another 30 or so jobs in the community and will expand the Goodwill mission of employment, training and other community programs.

This particular opening was even more fun, though. My oldest son, who is 17 and an avid thrifter, got to show me the proper way to thrift. I'm not even 100-percent sure that there is a proper way to thrift, so I think it might just be his particular style. He started by grabbing a cart and immediately going to check out the hats. He picked out a half dozen hats he thought he might like, secure in the knowledge that the price was right. He then made a beeline for the men's section, where he found a stylish pink sports coat. Not stopping to evaluate his next move, he headed for the records and albums section to pick out some classic vinyl -- among his finds were Johnny Cash, Jim Croce, Neil Diamond and even a Nat King Cole Christmas album. His efficiency was extraordinary, his determination unmatched, and the best news for me is that his thrifting experience only cost me about $20.

My youngest son landed what looked to be a brand new Maryland Terps jacket, and his first guitar. My daughter scored a dozen or so bandanas that she uses to make bracelets. All in all, it was a great family experience. The store was organized and beautiful, and the Goodwill teammates demonstrated their love for the mission and their excitement to be part of Goodwill. The experience was an excellent warm-up for our back-to-school shopping.

And, in addition to the joy of sharing this time with my family, I could see, crystal clear, that the Goodwill experience is one that connects caring with business in a way that strengthens each and every community where it operates.