By Trevor Baratko | Photos by Crowell Hadden

Forget Target. The Salvation Army of Loudoun County’s thrift store is the place you can’t leave without something in your hand.

Just ask Loudoun resident Denise Collins.

A few months back, Collins was perusing the Leesburg shop for a bed. One in particular caught her eye. She purchased it for a steal of a price — around $30, she recalled — and a worker at the store helped her put it together before leaving the shop.

The boutique section of The Salvation Army thrift store

The boutique section of The Salvation Army thrift store

It wasn’t until Collins got home that she saw the bed was an Ethan Allen original.

“That bed was my best find,” she said. “When I got home and saw that, I couldn’t believe it.
Collins said her husband recently asked her — lovingly, of course — if “maybe one time you could go there and not bring something home.”

“I’m always amazed when I listen to the conversations at the cashier. Recently, I heard one woman say to another, ‘You’re really lucky you spotted that — look at the signature.’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh man, what did I miss?’”

— Liz Stefanik, development director for The Salvation Army of Loudoun County

Like all Salvation Armies, Loudoun County’s store is piled with goods — clothes, furniture, art, electronics. But what makes the local shop unique is the quality of the items. And the affluent Middleburg community plays a key role in the accumulation of these premium products, said Liz Stefanik, development director for the local Salvation Army.

“I’m always amazed when I listen to the conversations at the cashier,” Stefanik told Middleburg Life during a recent tour of the Leesburg warehouse. “Recently, I heard one woman say to another, ‘You’re really lucky you spotted that — look at the signature.’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh man, what did I miss?’”

Corey Berkey of Brunswick, Maryland, came to The Salvation Army thrift store to look for an artifical Christmas tree.

Corey Berkey of Brunswick, Maryland, came to The Salvation Army thrift store to look for an artifical Christmas tree.

“I’m not allowed to shop during day,” Stefanik added. “I don’t even like to come in here during the day because I might see something I like and I know it’s going to be gone by the time I can get it.”

While many people think of The Salvation Army as a place for strict necessities, the Loudoun County shop features intricately designed furniture, eye-catching art, and elegant glassware and tableware. These aren’t exactly things someone needs to survive, but the pieces can and do provide comfort and pride for people and their living environments.

The home furnishings and art are so engaging that local real estate agents have taken to purchasing products to stage their listings, Stefanik said.

“And we have a lot of antique dealers come in,” she said. “I mean, this is where I would come first to look for pictures or things to hang on the wall — instead of paying $500. We have a lot of original art.”

Tyrell Jefferson of Leesburg has worked for The Salvation Army for seven years.

Tyrell Jefferson of Leesburg has worked for The Salvation Army for seven years.A recent browse of the Leesburg shop uncovered Coach and Calvin Klein purses, shoes from Barneys New York and jewelry from Gucci. The store features a special boutique section, which Stefanik doubts would be possible without the quality of products they receive from Middleburg.

Loudoun’s Salvation Army is overseen with the help of Lts. Miguel and Adieny Ramos, the branch’s corps commanders. The Ramoses are gearing up for the annual Angel Tree program, which will dish out holiday gifts to 1,500 kids in need.

“I feel called to it,” said Miguel Ramos, who has worked with The Salvation Army for 15 years. “I truly feel called to it.”

Ramos said the holidays are the best time to be involved with the respected nonprofit. “You get to really see outcomes.” ML

Salvation Army Thrift Store
Open Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
10 Cardinal Park Dr. SE
Leesburg, VA, 20175; 703-771-8905
virginiasalvationarmy.org/loudouncountyva