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Salvation Army: Finding Fashion on a Budget

Updated on June 14, 2014

Thrift store Fashion

 Tops found at Salvation Army Store
Tops found at Salvation Army Store | Source
Blazer and 2 tops  purchased at the Salvation Army Thrift store.
Blazer and 2 tops purchased at the Salvation Army Thrift store. | Source
 Two complete outfits: 2 skirts, two tops and two blazers total:  $12.50.
Two complete outfits: 2 skirts, two tops and two blazers total: $12.50. | Source

Huge Savings at the Thrift Store

Not that long ago I was extremely strapped for money. My husband and I were self-employed as owners and operators of two ice cream stores and a catering business. We were only in business 6 years and unfortunately when the recession hit, we lost everything. Our home was in foreclosure, our business had dwindled down to making about $80.00 a day with expenses at $1,500 a day. We had little options other than to go back to our prior occupations working for the insurance industry.

When we started our business in ice cream, we had little need for our business clothes as we wore uniforms. My husband donated the majority of his business clothes to the Goodwill. I donated most of mine to a good friend and the rest to a women's shelter who assists battered women in finding jobs. Our business dress for success was now a blue polo shirt and jeans everyday. We were short-sided by assuming our new found career would never involve business casual or suits again. When it became apparent we needed to find "real jobs" once more, we had nothing appropriate to wear should we be blessed with a call back or interview at a potential employer. We were in poor shape when it came to clothing and stressed at the prospect of spending money for new clothes without any real promise of employment.

Lessons Learned from Being Poor Cannot be Bought

Having been poor and then better off, my husband and I both know it is better to be well off, however, we would never trade the valuable education we received from being poor. Being poor taught us how to survive, how to stretch a buck, how to be creative to obtain the things you want with little money to spend. There is not enough money to teach a person the real value of being poor. We are not too proud that shopping at the Salvation Army, the Goodwill or any thrift store is beneath us.

Buying Gently Used Clothing Creates Jobs and Saves the Environment

There are so many good things about buying second hand. For one, it is truly the epitome of recycle and reuse. It saves energy. By giving a piece of clothing a second go around of being used i it is not taking up space in a landfill nor using resources to make more clothing. Places like the Salvation Army provide jobs for many people, the donation pick up drivers, the in-take staff who sort and clean donations or the cashiers working in the stores. Both consumers and workers at the Salvation Army benefit. It is a win-win situation.

Armed with $30.00 bucks on Saturday afternoon, we paid a visit to the local Salvation Army. In our neighborhood, the Salvation Army store is divided into two actual spaces. One has furniture, dishes and other glassware and rows of clothes. The other space is the "Boutique" this space is filled with designer label clothing or upscale furniture, dishes and art work. I quickly learn the Army Boutique clothing is #1 more expensive (average blazer is $7.50 while on the other side of the store blazers are $1.00 to $2.00 depending on wear/condition) and #2 designer clothes are for very petite women-nothing fits me!

Looking on the other side of the store, I find 2 blazers one navy and one black (standard colors for conservative insurance companies), 2 silk skirts, 2 tops total: $12.50. My husband found 4 semi-dress shirts, 5 Polo-type shirts, some Docker slacks, and 3 tee shirts (One a Laker's shirt his favorite basketball team that was a promo given out at one of the games) grand total: $20.00. We were $2.50 over but managed to rummage through pockets, purse and car change to make up the difference.

Personally I shy away from buying used pants, jeans or shoes I am just not comfortable about having used items that close to me even if they have been cleaned. If you do not have the same preferences, you will find tons of designer jeans at reduced prices, like Frankie Bs that sell for over $100 for $5.00. Plus with jeans the more faded, the better. Why not let someone else break them in for you?

Still a Bargain Buyer and Raising a New Generation

Since finding stable employment that provides us to return to our middle class lifestyle these last couple of years, we continue to return to the Salvation Army for all sorts of things, like books, hardbacks that cost $25.00 sell for $1.99. We actually found a few first editions which may have some value, depends on the author and popularity of the book. We have found vases, glasses, other items that are barely used.

Even though we are back on track financially, we are keeping with our goal to stay within a budget, refrain from using credit cards, and not over pay for things that we will probably end up selling at a garage sale or donating in a few years. Essentially we are trying to live within our means as we (and the Country) work our way back to balancing our budget.

The benefits of our thrifty spending has rubbed off on our children. On a recent visit to my thrifty college daughter who used to poo poo anything without a label, I noticed her wearing a spiffy jean dress with a colorful sweater over it. When I asked where she bought her new dress she replied "oh there is a great thrift store down the street that I found. I bought this entire outfit for $3.00!" I guess the apple really does not fall far from the tree.

The Salvation Army is a wonderful organization. We urge everyone to support the Salvation Army and visit your local store. You may find your own treasure there!


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    • Askme profile image

      Pritchard 4 years ago

      Hi SomeOneStylish:

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I will definitely check out your hubs.

    • SomeOneStylish profile image

      SomeOneStylish 4 years ago

      I am a vintage-style dresser and LOVE getting clothes from a local thrift/consignment store.... Just started my hub a few days ago and would appreciate some feedback!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Of course, I do MORE donating than purchasing at these two wonderful places!

    • Askme profile image

      Pritchard 5 years ago

      Thank you GM for stopping by. I always appreciate reading your Hubs, thank you for reading mine.

      Yes...I love Salvation Army. It is a win-win situation to shop and donate to them. Jobs for people, recycling of goods and a "steal" for shoppers!!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is an excellent hub. I have found some nifty dresses there. I also shop at Goodwill where I found 4 beautiful velvet black dresses for $4.00 each!