Cody Andrews, 29, and his girlfriend, Paula Williams, 26, were dropping off donations and shopping at their local Goodwill in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, earlier this month when Andrews’ admittedly poor taste in clothes led to an idea.
“As we were walking around I kept grabbing things and telling Paula it would look cute on her,” Andrews told ABC News. “It turns out I do not remotely understand the complexities of women’s fashion, so as Paula was laughing at how bad I was at this, I came up with the idea of me buying her an entire outfit to wear out, and she could do the same for me.”
The couple, both full-time students, established ground rules of a $10 budget and gender-appropriate clothes and then decided to up the ante by pledging to go out on a date in the clothes selected by each other, without telling people it was a joke.
The pair also challenged another couple, Alex Moore, 26, and Tuscany Puig, 24, to join.
“We wanted to do this every month or two, and invite different couples or friends each time,” Andrews said. “The unwritten rule was if either of us picked out something exceptionally bad, then they would have to pay for it on the next date.”
The two couples held their first challenge earlier this month and got a kick out of strangers' strong reactions to their significant other-selected attire.
“As we waited [for a table], literally 360 degrees of stares were happening,” Andrews recalled. “People really couldn’t comprehend us, and by us I mostly mean the girls…People’s facial expressions ranged from disgust to the highest level of confusion.”
“Overall though, the vast majority of people we saw ended up with a smile on their face, which is exactly what we wanted,” he added.
Andrews and his friends came up with the name “Goodwill Date” for their night out, and the future ones they planned, and Andrews posted a photo on Facebook.
What they didn’t expect is for the photo go viral, and spark its own hashtag.
“Four days after uploading the picture, it had 4,000 shares,” Andrews said. “From reading the comments, it looked like a ton of couples, friends, groups were all going to be doing it so I decided to add the hashtag #goodwilldate so we could see what outfits people come up with.”
Andrews and his friends have been watching the responses pour in, with his favorite reply going to the group who said they’re going to do the challenge at prom.
“The reaction online has been so insanely positive and fun,” Andrews said. “I love how people are putting their own spin on it especially. We’ve read where people have said they were going to do it as a fundraising event, bachelorette/Christmas/Halloween party, family reunion, and more.”
The idea, according to Andrews, has less to do with the idea that the clothes are consignment and more to do with the fun of piecing together clothes spanning several decades, all for a friend or loved one.
“You could just as easily find tacky combinations at an expensive store, but not for $10,” Andrews sadi. “Even if we were millionaires, we would still shop at thrift stores. It’s good for the environment, the organization itself and you can find some very unique items from every decade in the last fifty years.”