Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Salvation Army: A Love-Hate Relationship!

I have a love-hate relationship with Salvation Army. I LOVE the organization itself and the wonderful service they provide. I also LOVE the great deals I get for the things I need. So where does the hate come in? I'm a minimalist of course! OK, perhaps hate it a strong word. I strongly dislike the feeling I get in the store full of "stuff". This "stuff" calls to people (ok, I admit. . .it used to talk to me too!). It says, "Buy me! I'm cheap! You need me! It IS for a good cause! And my favorite. . .If you don't end up using me you can always re-donate me!". How many of you have heard these words run through your mind as you shop at a Salvation Army or Goodwill? I have! 

How do you avoid the "Cheap, but don't need it trap"? DON"T go in! I make it a point to only go into a SA if I am looking for something specific (that I need)! Never go to just "shop". You run the risk of becoming a victim to the words in your head! 

I went to SA today with a specific need. My daughter will be moving back in with us soon and having a baby. =) Yep, I'm going to be a grandma! =) We have a dinning room table without enough chairs. We have made do with using an old piano bench (because I am frugal and minimal). Even with a piano bench we were crowded. I decided I needed at least 3 chairs, but 4 would be better. I cashed an unexpected check and headed to SA with $43 in hopes I could buy 4 chairs and a center piece for less then that. It was my lucky day! They were having a one day sale on all furniture. . .50% off! YiPpEe! I bought 4 chairs, a center piece, and a mat for it for only. . .$18! As a minimalist, I don't usually do center pieces, but the room is very plain with no decor on the walls. It is still a very simple room. A picture of my results is below. It is not beautiful and fancy, but I love the country feel and the miss matched chairs. It matches our miss matched family! =) BTW, one of those chairs was white! I bought some inexpensive brown spray paint ($2) and my daughter painted it. Can you guess which one?

So, what did I do with the extra money? I began to walk out of the store, proud that I only bought what I needed and that it was a lot less then anticipated! Wait. . .not so fast! Yep, something caught my eye! It was a box. It was a little logo that caught my attention. "Organic?" What could they possibly sell at SA that says "organic"? I was curious. . .I walked over and picked up the box. I was so jazzed! It was a starter kit for organic heirloom seeds for tomatoes. This wasn't a temptation, but rather smart shopping. It had the kit with a small pack of several seeds. I stuck it in the cart without hesitation. Then looking up again, I saw another one for carrots and lettuce. Now looking around, I saw another box on the shelf over. Three boxes (basil & cilantro; my favorite herbs)! Now I was on a treasure hunt! I ended up finding NINE boxes scattered throughout the store (don't ask me why they weren't all together)! 

For those who may not know, heirloom seeds are seeds that are NOT GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) and the seeds from the product of that seed can be reused. In essence, one seed can ultimately produce hundreds and even thousands of produce. And these were organic heirloom. Each box was only $1! I also found a bag of Jiffy-7 Peat Pellets for $.80! This was a future homesteaders find today! =)

So, some "collectors" might say, "See, you would have missed out on that amazing deal had you not gone in there?" Some might argue that this is why they must go in there to "shop" on occasion, especially if there is a sale or special. My response to that would be that I wouldn't have missed out on anything! Why? Because I wouldn't have known! You can't "miss out" on something if you don't know you're missing out. On the contrary, I believe this was a blessing I received for being frugal and sustainable.

So what happened to the rest of my money? I took a friend out to lunch. :o) What a happy, frugal, sustainable day! =)


  1. I buy most of my clothes (other than those I make) at thrift stores. I have been knitting for a long time (almost my entire life) and can knit pretty much anything I want. I also sew, but less often than I knit.

    In the U.S. at least, so many new and barely-used clothes wind up on thrift store racks, and because I know textiles and designers, I have been able to find some amazing (and otherwise unaffordable) items for very little money. Sometimes I'll buy sweaters, unravel them for the yarn, and voila! - a $4 sweater has morphed into something unique that elicits oohs and aahs from those who see it!

    One thing I no longer buy in thrift stores, however, is anything like furniture or certain accessories. Bed bugs are a serious concern these days and it is amazing how good they are at hiding in the unseen cracks and fissures found in most wood. Ridding a house of bed bugs can cost thousands of dollars (to pay for the exterminators as well as the therapists you need to get over the experience!).

    Care should be taken with electronics and even books sometimes. I do buy from those categories, but you have to really inspect and know the tell-tale signs of bed bug infestations (usually groups of little brown spots, which are their waste - blecch!).

    Other than those cautions, I wholeheartedly encourage people to follow your advice and show thrift stores.

  2. Wouldn't bed bugs be a concern in used clothing stored next to the furniture you say is at risk??

  3. Jenn, I would assume that bed bugs in clothes would not be an issue as most people (I would hope) will wash any clothes they buy new or used. I'm not sure if that would do it as I don't know much about bed bugs.

  4. I only shop at thrift stores for my kids because they grow so fast and destroy everything they wear. I love thrift stores or consignment shops for myself, although I struggle to find things that fit since I'm a larger woman...

  5. Bed bugs can even be found in regular stores like Target and Walmart. You should always put new clothes into the drier to eliminate this risk if it is something you are worried about :-)