More than just a pretty dress
Just because it’s second, doesn’t mean it’s second-best, writes Samantha Malagre.
The Salvos retail stores have reported an upsurge of eight per cent in sales over the past 12 months, and that figure is expected to increase with the expansion and refurbishment of some of the 68 stores throughout NSW. At the St Peters flagship store, business is booming with as many as 400 customers coming through the doors on a daily basis.
General Manager of Salvo Stores, Neville Barrett, says that the increase in sales, while surprising, reflects the current financial hardship that many people in the community are facing due to rising food, oil and energy costs. The demand for services like the Salvos are in desperate need.
“We are seeing more and more young people come into the stores. They may be starting out and can’t afford new things. These are people who often have never been to our stores before,” he says. “Generally, we do have a wide mix of people from the community, especially senior citizens, who struggle buying the essentials, ”says Mr Barrett.
Pensioner, Mavis Brown, from Hurtsville, says that she is overwhelmed at the quality that she has found at the store, including a stylish winter coat purchased for a bargain of ten dollars, something she wouldn’t be able to afford if the Salvos Stores weren’t around.
“I’ve never been to the Salvos Stores before. I was quite amazed at the kinds of items you can buy and how cheap everything is,” she says.
In response to the overwhelming need, many of the Salvos retail stores are now being revamped, including Minchinbury in Sydney’s Western suburbs, which will see a launch on July 17 of its expanded store.
The reputation of the stores has also enjoyed a resurgence, with middle income earners coming into the stores for items they can’t afford to purchase brand new elsewhere. But there are also customers that come to Salvos for their trendy fashionable clothing.
Drama teacher, Susan Geldart, and her friend, Liz Coote, both from Cronulla, came to the St Peters store looking for vintage clothing for a drama production of ‘Cosi’ they are putting on for the Cronulla Arts Theatre Company.
“We couldn’t find costumes anywhere else and couldn’t afford to either. I haven’t been to these stores for a long-time, and the clothes are amazing and so cheap, ” Ms Geldart says.
Ms Coote works as a nurse for the Nurses on Wheels charity organisation in Bexley, and says she regularly makes the trip to the St Peters store with her elderly clients, who find the big retail chains quite costly.
“They love it and will buy things for a night out, even for a wedding. The stuff is so cheap and the kinds of things you can buy just gets better,” she says enthusiastically.
To meet the demands of the community, the Salvo Stores are now offering a wider range of items including; electrical, furniture, sporting goods, manchester, shoes, children’s wear, mens wear, books and household cleaning products. Neville Barrett insists that at the Salvos store they never waste anything, which include things like kettles and toasters, which are quality tested to meet safety standards.
“We buy items like the cleaning products in bulk. We first introduced them seven years ago, and they have becoming very popular with people who are seeking cheaper household products, ”Mr Barrett
Mr Barrett reports that while some donations have decreased, the number of people that visit the stores have increased considerably. And he feels that Australians will continue to give to others less fortunate than themselves even if they are struggling.
“The people of Australian ever cease to amaze us with their generosity. The Salvos are always there for people in need and Australians know that,” he says.