Salvation Army Finds

The Salvation Army is all over the news after Wednesday’s building collapse in Philadelphia. I was completely ignorant of this event when I stopped in to our local Salvation Army yesterday in search of furniture. Though knowledge of the tragedy wouldn’t have stopped me from entering Portland’s lonely warehouse, it does seem odd timing to be blathering on about thrift store finds when others paid the highest price for their pursuit of the greatest bargain. Such is life. I wish a swift recovery to those injured, and hope the families affected stay strong. May the great thrift store in the sky offer unlimited discounts and premium scores to those lost amid the racks.


I’ve been on the lookout for a few pieces of furniture to replace the ones that Colin’s cousin, Richard, took with him when he moved out. When I moved in with Colin, he and Richard had been living together for several years. I had no concept of which communal items were Colin’s and which were Richard’s. Now we’re down to just one kitchen chair, which is a problem when Colin and I try to have dinner together. (He’s been rolling my computer chair over to the table each night, but we are reaching a point where it’s more of a nuisance than an amusement.)

Yesterday I stopped in to the Salvation Army on my way home from work to see what goods they had. There was so much furniture, and I was immediately attracted to a table and chair set.

Salvation Army vintage black table with dining chairs

I took pictures and sent them to Colin to see what he thought. At $45 for the table and three chairs, it seemed a fantastic deal. I hung around the set for a while, trying to subtly claim ownership and ward off other customers while I waited for Colin’s response. This gave me a chance to really inspect the table and chairs. I started listing pros and cons in my head.


  • Unique. This design was unlike any I’d ever seen, or would see again. I could guarantee that nobody else would have something like it.
  • Cheap. $45 for a table and three chairs worked out to about $11.25 per piece.
  • Vintage. The retro look was just what I was looking for.
  • Color. The chrome/black colors would match well with the kitchen aesthetic I had in mind.
  • Timely. We needed chairs; the sooner I found something I liked, the better.


  • Quality. On the one hand, the legs were metal, and seemed sturdy. But the table had a chip in the laminate and some stains, and one of the chairs had cigarette burns in the seat. Not cute.
  • Incomplete. Three chairs? Not four? Hmm.
  • Mismatched. One of the chairs had armrests though the other two didn’t.
  • Dirty. It would need a lot of work to get those legs shined up the way I envisioned them. And I wasn’t even sure how clean they could get.
  • Transport. Getting it home might be a challenge. The table had a line down the center and an interesting pulley system underneath it. It looked like it could be folded in half, but the legs would need to be unscrewed first, since they didn’t bend.

When I heard back from Colin, he was into it, but after running through my mental list of pros and cons, I was hesitant to snatch the set up. I talked to a sales associate to see if I could hold it. The answer was no, so I decided to walk away from it and come back with Colin later that night, and hope no one else had snagged it in between.

We went back a couple of hours later and fortunately, the set was still there. Colin checked it out and did some essential jiggling around to test the sturdiness of one of the chairs. The chair wobbled as if it were made of pudding. Colin flipped the chair over and saw that the screws holding the legs on weren’t doing such a great job. Potentially fixable, but if the screws were stripped, we’d need to find new ones. Strike 1.

Then he gripped both sides of the table and shook it back and forth to test its legs. The table responded enthusiastically, shimmying like it was at a Sadie Hawkins dance. This time we looked underneath and saw one of the legs was somewhat detached from the tabletop. Strike 2.

We lumped the myriad other noted cons together to form strike 3, and said goodbye to the dinette set. It was a great find, and will make the right person happy. Someday.

On our way out, however, Colin spotted a piece of furniture he just couldn’t pass up. And I’ll write about that new member of our family in my next post.


8 thoughts on “Salvation Army Finds

  1. Pingback: Salvation Army Finds, Part 2 | lunar milk

  2. It reminds me of the table my Grammy had in her kitchen for the longest time. It wasn’t cool to me when I was a kid, it was just the surface for puzzles and cereal bowls. Now, I wish I had talked to her before she got rid of it.

    • Sometimes I wish my grandmother were more of a pack rat. She’s way too good at getting rid of things…I can only imagine the excellent 1950s goodies she’d have that I would be only too happy to take off her hands.

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