Salvation Army shop has a gift for thrift

November 29, 1997


Staff Writer

Wanna buy a good used car? Check with the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.

The three-year-old store, located at 524 Frederick St., has clothes, household items, furniture - all the things one would expect.

But according to store manager, Wendie Kulpinski, sales are not limited to the ordinary. Indeed, imagination is a key factor in the store's success.

"We have a number of cars for sale," Kulpinski said. They are donated just like other items are donated, helping the store support the many Salvation Army endeavors.


People who need food or clothing on an emergency basis can apply at the Salvation Army main office at 534 W. Franklin St., Kulpinski said.

"There they will get a voucher and are sent here to get what they need - furniture, kitchen items and up to 10 items of clothing per family member - free," she said.

A number of agencies, including CASA, regularly send people to the thrift store for their emergency needs.

Low-income families regularly shop at the thrift store also because bargains are standard fare, Kulpinski said.

"We get new items donated from several stores include J.C. Penney, Kmart and Wal-Mart," Kulpinski said. Hallmark also provides items but insists they be given away, not sold, Kulpinski said.

Some of the donated items go to the Salvation Army shelter which is set up on Franklin Street to provide emergency housing as needed.

There are several paid staff members such as Kulpinski but most of the help is volunteer.

Shirley Pryor started out as a volunteer, just because she believed in the work that was done at the store. For the past two years, she has been a paid employee.

"We have people from the Washington County Association for Retarded Citizens learning how to work by working here," Kulpinski said.

In addition, the store gets help from the Department of Juvenile Justice and community service referrals from the Washington County courts.

"Some finish their hours and then come back and volunteer here on their own time," Kulpinski said with pride.

Hiring workers with disabilities is routine for the thrift store, Kulpinski said. "A man who is wheelchair-bound will be starting here soon."

Store hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays.

In addition to donations from churches, stores and individuals, the thrift store also conducts its own yard sales and auctions to raise funds.

"People having yard sales instead of donating to us has hurt us but we are still getting a lot of things," Kulpinski said.

Pickup of donated items can be arranged by calling the store at 301-739-6737.

Kulpinski wanted to stress that all profit at the store goes back into the Salvation Army programs - staying in Washington County.

"Our system works pretty well," she said. "We are here just to help people."

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