Secondhand America: Syracuse Salvation Army

America's wealth of secondhand stores is not exactly a secret, but it it can be pretty intimidating in its vastness. Follow our writer as she tiptoes through junk, browses the shelves of antique malls and bargains with vintage brokers, reporting back on just what makes our resale shops so damn good.

The problem with chain thrift shops is that they can all look the same—a bit dingy, rather depressing and dark—and that pictures don’t always make them look as good as their stock proves them to be. That’s the case with this week’s pick: Syracuse’s Salvation Army. Located near the city's eponymous university (my alma mater), this Salvo is where most young, temporary Syracuse residents go to seek out Halloween costume components and wardrobe pick-me-ups. You’d be hard-pressed not to find an undergrad browsing the racks at any given time.

I fondly remember going to this thrift store looking for old-time Syracuse gear: awesomely brash orange crewneck sweatshirts, mugs and the like emblazoned with the Syracuse University logo. It was also the place to go for warm, wooly knits galore—you have heard of “lake-effect snow,” yes? It’s real—and this trip was no different. Racks are lined with sweaters of every color; I found a pretty, large-gauge sweater in lipstick red for $7 and a bead-embellished white cardigan for $6. It’s not all about the cold-weather gear—though that’s a big draw—as the shoes are also super-promising. I found cool white, black-capped lace-ups for $3 and lovely maroon bow-topped flats for $5. And don’t neglect the home goods section! Among the Syracuse-pride gear, you’ll find color-coded shelves of everything from marble napkin holders ($4) to vases and tons of glass party-ready vessels (prices vary, but are probably more than reasonable.) There are tons of goofy, offbeat finds as well, like weird figurines ripe for the collecting.

While not every visit will yield a goldmine of amazing vintage pieces, Syracuse’s Salvation Army has held onto my heart thanks to our treasure-filled past, entrenched in nostalgia—college was the time of your life, right?!—and the distinct possibility that excellent finds await.

The Salvation Army
2433 Erie Blvd. E
Syracuse, NY 13224

Freelance writer Alison Baitz (who also writes for Bust and Refinery29) is so excited that she gets to visit thrift stores and antique malls as part of her job.

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