Why I Love Sally’s Boutique: My Ode to Salvation Army

This repost originally appeared on the site in November, 2004

Smitten . . .

Along with chocolate and spanx, I hereby declare my love for the Salvation Army.  Sally, as I affectionately call my love, is perhaps the best store to ever exist. Saks, my former love, has nothing on this store. Where else could you find a John Paul Gaultier shirt, from BERGDORF GOODMAN, for $1.50?  Two months ago, I found two vintage Norma Kamali dresses, perfect condition, $2.50 a piece. When I gave them to my best friend (they were a size 4), she was so excited that she started to shriek, hysterically, like she was possessed by some strange budget-shopping spirit. Later, she told me that sometimes she just likes to wear the dresses around her apartment, because they make her feel special. This is the power of Salvation Army.

There are many times that I head to Sally’s as a fashion last resort. For example, this weekend I needed a cocktail dress to wear to a business function. I found a beautiful black dress from Salvation Army with black lace insets for $5.00. I added a silver leather belt from the GAP, a pair of silver flats from the Nine West Outlet and a pair of silver square clip on earrings from Nordstrom Rack- for a completely stunning outfit. Totaly cost—$48.00.

Before running out to your local Salvation Army, it is important to know a couple key tips. One tip to shopping Salvation Army, is to make friends with the sales staff. Most people are so snotty towards the staff at the stores, that they often miss out on the greatest finds. Roxanne, the manager at the Jersey City Salvation Army who helps me find great items like my short rabbit fur jacket circa 1968 for 16 bucks, is officially invited to my birthday party. She also helped me find a green vintage Coach purse for $9.99, scoring an invite for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Another tip to shopping the Salvation Army is to find out which color tag is on sale. Each week select stores place a different color price tags on sale—usually 50% off all items with the sale tag color. So my knit dress, originally from Bergdorf, was reduced from $6.99 to $3.50—less than the cost of a White Chocolate Mochachino.

The biggest tip to shopping a Salvation Army, is to shop it like you would a regular store. If it doesn’t fit right, don’t buy it. You don’t want to end up with a closet full of items that are will be returned right back to the store.

Last but not least, make sure you know the best days to shop your local Sally store. The best days to shop Salvation Army is the weekday—head over during your lunch hour.  Wear comfortable shoes, because most Sally stores have hard cement floors.

The power of a good Salvation Army extends past yourself and into the local community surrounding the store.  Sally stores help support the activities of the Salvation Army organization, which provide a wide range of social services to the community. So while looking fashionable, you are also supporting your community. That is real shopping power.

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    thanks for the tips, really love Salvation Army as well, and Sally and I go wayback… to when my mamma used to dress us from there, but she had to walk home through the back ally’s hiding the fact that she shopped there, you see back then it was not the thing to do and a sign of “poverty”. Now, it is the thing to do! I love it, and also Vaue Village

    I too love our sally. She and her helpers have helped me to find excellent clothing, and house hold “antique” finds or re-purposed decorating ideas to make my apartment “House Beautiful”  beautiful.
    You are so right about the helpful sales staff. Looking good and supporting good…it’s all good.

    Agreed. I got a Christian Dior blazer there for 4.50 because of the color tag sale. (it was originally 8.99) It was new, and just needed a little cleaning and some handiwork to take out the 80s style shoulder pads. Now, it’s the most gorgeous thing ever purchased for under $5!

    I almost fainted when I saw the beauties my friends picked up at Sally’s during the past 3-4 years. Armani wool jacket, Calvin Klein linen jacket, Pink Tartan wool skirt and blouse, Theory black jacket, 100% cashmere turtleneck,…. New or barely used. We should establish a club for Sally lovers.

    I wish our thrift stores would have these high end clothes. I think stores like this as well as TJ Maxx and Marshalls offerings are reflective of the community they are located in. I live in a small midwest town where most people do not buy upscale clothing and thus when they donate to thrift stores, it is items from Kohls or Target or Dress Barn, not Nordstroms or Saks, etc. I have pretty much quit wasting my time going to TJ Maxx hoping to find the hidden gem…I know there are stores that stock brands like older Kate Spade but again I think those items go to larger, higher income communities.

    I used to love the Sally when I lived in NY. Sadly, no one out here in the burbs of Denver ever owned a Gaultier shirt or any Kamali dresses to donate, and I am delighted if I can get good condition Banana Republic. Oh well, except for the dearth of fashion, I love it here!

    I wish all the Salvation Army stores hadn’t disappeared around where I live, they used to be such a joy to shop and much more affordable than local Goodwill’s. We have one left, not too far, but its in a terrible state, very dirty — I’m one to get down and dirty at the thrifts, but this one really gives me the heebie jeebies! The one in Jersey City has always been fantastic! I was just doing dishes and reflecting on the time I found an enormous set of Fire King pink and jadeite dishes (from the 40’s, this stuff wears like iron and can even go in the oven like pyrex!) there over 20 years ago that we still use everyday! I see that this was a repost from 2004, I wonder if its still as affordable? XXX Suzanne

    I LOVE my Sallys too! Every Wednesday, ALL clothing is 50% off.
    My latest/favorite score was my BCBG shoes for $6..almost new!!!!

    I LOVE shopping at my local Sally’s. It’s a real treasure hunt whenever I go.

    To the person who said their town’s store doesn’t have high end items – I know where every “Sallie” and Goodwill is within probably a 75 mile area. Whenever I go out of town, these stores always make my list-and those that are on the way to get there. I like to see what different areas have and it’s always interesting. Terrifically cheap souvenirs to be had- regional t-shirts, furniture, glassware, etc. Also, most of them have amazing sales on holidays such as Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, usually 50% all clothing and anything else they may be trying to get rid of. Road trip!

    Fabulous post!! I love to take the time and really go through the racks…and sometimes it’s better to go when you don’t have a particular item in mind…you’re more likely to walk out with a great find if your eyes aren’t focused on just one style/look.

    You might not want to shop there anymore…or you might not care, but wow: http://unicornbooty.com/blog/2012/06/25/salvation-army-media-relations-director-gays-should-be-put-to-death/

    I hate to be a wet blanket and bring this up, but the Salvation Army has a seriously nasty anti-gay track record. I don’t donate there and don’t shop there. My wardrobe is nearly totally thrift, but I shop at Goodwill and Saver’s. There are consignment shops around that supposedly take in designer clothes, but I haven’t checked them out since my wardrobe is a bit too big as it is! (I favor silk knit T’s and tanks, wearable art-style jackets, ethnic clothes and fabrics, and slacks I can wash, even if that means they aren’t gorgeous wool ones… I also have bought some cashmere, but with hot flashes it’s too toasty for me now, so I gave it away!) If you shop at the Salvation Army, just be aware of the things they support — and fight.

    Stephanie Pollaro

    Have been along time supporter of Salvation Army. I love to buy things there because I know my purchase is going to help the community. I know for a fact that they don’t discriminate who gets help through their charitable giving. They help in more ways than what the general public even knows…they are even instrumental in the support of human trafficking survivors in the US and around the world.

    where is sallys?

    Why would people donate designer items that cost alot of money to the Salvation Army? If I were them I would try and resell it at a boutique or online first but I guess its a good thing to us that they do…LOL. Thanks for the post.

    Great Post:

    I love unique finds such as this one. Always on the look out for unique items.

    One persons junk is anothers treasure. I love going to the salvation army to donate items and also to have a look around. You never know what you will find!

    Wow! That is great news you got there. Thank you for giving us some information about the treasure in Salvation Army. I think it will be fun rummaging the thrift store! I hope you would post more about such stores where we would save a hefty amount!

    I recently visited Sallys in Southfield, Michigan. I just fell in love with the store. They have done a great job with the store, Matching clothes with accessories etc. And I got a ton of toys and luggage at give away prices.

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