Support the Community and Score Some Steals at Salvation Army
Over 100 years ago, General William Booth recognized a dire need for affordable goods, particularly geared towards the disadvantaged and excluded groups in the community. As a response, he created the Household Salvage Brigade, a group responsible for the collection of used household and everyday items.
Today, we see Booth’s legacy continued by the Salvation Army. A key component of Salvation Army’s presence in the community is its number of thrift stores throughout the community, offering budget-friendly, gently used clothing and household miscellany.
Overseen by the organization’s National Recycling Operations division, the mission of the thrift stores is to raise money for the Salvation Army while making positive changes within the community. Their philosophy echoes that of William Booth by expressing the marginalized in society can be empowered by having their basic needs met, as well as being equipped with practical skills and abilities.
A fully charity-based enterprise, a trip to the Salvation Army requires a keen eye and a patient mind. The large store boasts a very generous collection of men’s and women’s garments of all kinds and for all seasons. In fact, the size of the collection can be rather intimidating—not to mention hindering to your shopping experience as many of the racks are so full the hangers can barely be moved.
What the establishment lacks in presentation, it makes up for in variety of sizes and styles. The store is divided by types of clothing (skirts, sweaters, jackets) and size, and some sections begin to show signs of organization by colour. I was also pleasantly surprised to find sections in-store not often seen in second-hand stores, such as maternity, plus-size and ball/prom gowns.
A major selling point of the Salvation Army thrift stores is the charity’s dedication to low prices. Think $7.99 for a pair of dark denim jeans or a mere $4.99 for a work-worthy white collared blouse. I was impressed to find usual heavy-hitters at significantly reduced prices than one would find regularly, such as winter-ready coats for $29.99 or fitted coloured blazers for $9.99.
With prices this low though, one must expect a few concessions to be made. Compared to other second-hand, for-profit spots, the quality of items can leave something to be desired. That being said, if you take the time to carefully peruse the racks, you can find items that can pass as brand new—some may even be, as the organization also accepts donations from corporate sponsors, often in the form of new, not-yet-used products.
Similarly, do not expect to encounter brand names at the same frequency as other second-hand destinations. Brand names such as Ralph Lauren, Reitman’s and H&M were met at my visit, though the vast majority of selection is not made by well-known or higher-end designers or stores.
A stop to the Salvation Army is ideal for replacing everyday items, such as work wear or lounging clothes. If you are looking for more formal wear, you can certainly get lucky. But be sure to help your odds by cutting out a chunk of your day to carefully scour the packed rows upon rows of clothing and accessories.
By staying up-to-date on Salvation Army’s website, you will be privy to outstanding in-store sales. Shopping smartly at these events can be an extremely cost-effective way of replenishing your wardrobe or playing with new trends.
For a great introduction to the store, stop by on November 14 and 15 for the amazing 99 cent event. If you can believe it, the Salvation Army is holding a two-day event where items, such as blazers, skirts, dresses and pants, are all priced at only 99 cents.
Consider contributing to this worthwhile charity by donating your own gently used items in-store or at one of two Drop Bin locations in the city. For optimal savings, drop off your donated items directly in-store to be eligible to receive a $10 voucher for its thrift stores. All the funds raised are put directly into community programs and services, such as emergency shelter support, homeless relief, food banks and addiction facilities, amongst many other much-needed social initiatives.