10 Tips & Tricks For Shopping at Salvation Army Stores

Salvation Army shopping is one of the best ways to save money while getting fantastic merchandise. From vintage goods to name-brand clothing, so many great deals are in store if you know the secrets to shopping there.

I'm going to talk about tips, secrets, hacks, and shopping at the Salvation Army store that only the employees know.

1. The best day to go shopping

Many seasoned shoppers say Monday and Tuesday because they are refreshing from the weekend crowd. Along with that, the best days to go shopping are the days before a big sale.

They put out as much merchandise as possible before a big sale. If you go shopping on the days of the big sale, a lot of the items are usually cleared out.

2. Know your store

The Salvation Army has a huge database of each of its stores. If one store sells more lamps than another, and another sells more furniture, they will send the best furniture to the Salvation Army that sells the most furniture and the lamps to the store that sells the most.

So make sure you know your store and what each store's specialty is.

3. Make sure that you are aware of designer dupes

Often at my Salvation Army, they'll keep the designer items behind the counter. They cannot authenticate which items are designer and which are not. So don't be fooled by the fact that it looks like a designer or that it's behind the counter.

Many times the people sorting through all the items don't know what is designer and what is not, so you might find an authentic designer item, not behind the counter.

Salvation Army store

4. Know the cost of things

The Salvation Army has a flat rate that they categorize items and price them according to whatever category. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in the Salvation Army, and the stuff is priced more than it might be at an actual store.

One way to help you determine if the item is priced more or less when you're unsure is to use Google Lens.

Take a picture of the item using Google Lens and go into the shopping search results on Google. Another way is to use a web page where you can put in the item number and the lot number, and it will tell you its item's value.

Thrift shopping

5. Reselling for profit is not dead

There are four things to know if you want to resell Salvation Army merchandise for a profit.

One, I highly recommend that you niche down into one specific area. I used to sell vintage and antique plates on eBay, and I used to make a killing out of it because I was more knowledgeable about plates than almost anybody.

Two, for selling for profit, you can use Google Lens, and you can use eBay image searching to figure out if that item has any profitability for reselling.

Number three, here are some niches that are really hot sellers. Anything made in the 80s that is very, very 80s or very, very 70s. Another one is paintings from the Salvation Army.

The last quick tip for reselling for profit is to keep in mind how much it will cost to ship the item. You might be able to make a $100 profit, but if it costs you $300 to ship the item, it might not be a good thing to buy and resell.

Broken electronics

6. The Salvation Army will take back electronics that are broken

You can test the electronics in the store itself. However, if you take it home and it's not working, you can return it. Some Salvation Army stores will only return it for store credit, while others will just return your cash back.

7. They don't sell everything that is donated

I read a study saying they only sell about 30% of the stuff that is donated, and they carefully curate all the stuff that is donated. Some stuff does go to the landfill.

They do not sell stained, torn clothes. A lot of that is shipped overseas for either people who desperately need clothes or is recycled into different textiles. They want to provide whoever is buying the stuff with quality items.

8. You won't always find better deals in wealthy neighborhoods

This is because the local Salvation Army stores all work together and put the items where they sell most.

If that high-end designer bag might sell better in a different location, the Salvation Army stores within a certain area will send it to that Salvation Army, where it is going to sell better.

Now, with that said, that does not mean that every single Salvation Army within the country works together. It is usually within a certain district. What that means is that the prices across different districts might be different.

You can go online to the Salvation Army within your area and figure out which ones are within a specific district.

Salvation Army store secrets

9. You cannot haggle with prices

If you find an item you think is not priced correctly, they will not lower your price. People who work at the Salvation Army are people too, so it really helps if you frequent the stores you like best as much as possible and make friends with the people who work there.

The nicer you are to them, the more insider information they will give you at their stores.

10. Don't ever leave the store without asking for a military discount, a teacher's discount, and a senior discount

Some stores even have these specialty percent-off discount days like Mondays are for Moms, so make sure when you are at the counter to ask for specific discounts.

Salvation Army store secrets

Shopping at a Salvation Army can be quite the adventure. Do you shop at a Salvation Army store? Share your shopping tips in the comments below.

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2 of 32 comments
  • Karen Karen on Apr 27, 2023

    I do a lot of baby clothes shopping for my grandchildren reborn dolls. They wear 0 to 3 month sizes. They love going with me and picking the "outfits" for their dolls. And also, ingive the. An amount they can spend and they must stay within that amount. There is a lot of putting back so as to comply. It is loads of fun!

  • Rachel Rachel on Aug 15, 2023

    We donate to Salvation Army because it helps people in drug and alcohol recovery .However the S.A in Skokie seems to hold anything now thats new or pre owned designer in back . Same with their jewelry. They don’t put out nice clothes like they used to and they are out pricing themselves. I can go to Old Navy on their clearance and get new for less that S.A .

    It is sad . I used to go there to shop but now they sell much donated Indian style dresses and very worn out looking recycled clothes. S.A should sell what people donate not select what they want to keep and sell online like Goodwill does.