Finally, one of the largest thrift stores in Singapore is easily accessible!

With the opening of the new stations on the Downtown Line, it’s now easier than ever to get to Salvation Army’s Praisehaven Mega Family Thrift Store (located at Hillview Exit A). Out of all their thrift stores (there are 5 of them), this one is by far the largest, and thanks to the DTL, it’s probably the most convenient one to get to. Here are some things they have that make the trip worthwhile.

Note: The shop has a “no photography” policy, but I managed to get clearance from a staff member to take a few general photos. (Click to enlarge photos)

 

Categories of Items

  1. Furniture – The basement is entirely filled with furniture, including beds, sofas, desks, bookshelves, dining tables, and more. I spotted a modern solid wood-frame chaise for $130, a complete 6-piece traditional Chinese rosewood living room set for $1500, and a baby crib/cot for $40. All these pieces were high quality pieces (not the cheap particleboard that IKEA sells). And they were all in excellent condition. While I was there, they were having a furniture clearance and many items were further discounted. If you are unable to haul the item yourself, you can opt to have your item delivered. Their delivery fees start at $40.

 

  1. Baby Items – Let’s face it, kids grow up way to fast to buy everything new. Wouldn’t you rather save that money for other things, like for their future education needs or for your own retirement needs? Besides baby furniture, Praisehaven also has baby clothes, car seats, high chairs, prams, rockers, and toys. Who cares if there might be some cosmetic stains here and there. So long as its sanitary, your baby will likely stain brand new items anyway.

 

  1. Formal Wear – Sadly, the vast majority of bridesmaid dresses (and other formal wear) never get worn twice. And this is often where these one-time-use outfits end up. If you have an upcoming special occasion, and want to wear an almost-new dress, this is a good place to shop. Often, these dresses come dry cleaned by the previous owner. The prices are about 30% to 50% off what you would otherwise pay at a boutique.

 

  1. Clothing & Accessories – Prices for their clothing are a bit on the high side for a thrift store (in my opinion, Red Cross Thrift Store has the best prices). But most of their pieces are in really good condition. They also have fitting rooms available so you can try before you buy, which is really rare for thrift stores in Singapore. In addition to clothing, they also have handbags, shoes, scarves, belts, and ties.

 

  1. Books – Praisehaven has a huge selection of books, including children’s books, reference books, and foreign language books.

 

  1. Household Goods – They have tableware, linens, and small kitchen appliances. All items that require power have been tested to be in good working condition by the staff, but if for some reason, the item no longer works when you bring it home, they have an exchange/store credit policy and you can bring the faulty item back. I found their prices for household goods to also be on the high side for a thrift store (in my opinion, the prices seem to be a bit higher than prices for comparable items at Cash Converters), but still way cheaper than buying new.

 

  1. Electronics – They have phones, cameras, camcorders, computers, laptops, printers, sound systems, webcams, gaming systems, and more. If you’re looking for a good used phone, they have the iPhone 4 16GB and the Samsung S2 16GB for sale at $100; and the iPhone 4 32GB for $180.

 

  1. Sporting Goods – There were tons of golf clubs, balls, rackets, and bike helmets. There were some items that looked barely used, perhaps they were once owned by someone who thought they would take up a new hobby, but in the end gave it up. Their loss is your gain.

 

  1. Musical Instruments – Praisehaven has tons of string instruments (guitars, cellos, violins, etc.), instrument cases, CDs, music stands, and music books – all at very reasonable prices. I also spotted a complete drum set. On their online store (reddshop.com), they have a Casio Piano for sale at only $250. If you’re interested in learning a new instrument, I recommend buying second-hand, just in case you find out later that it’s not for you.

 

  1. Art – Buying artwork and framing it can cost a lot of money, especially if you get it custom-framed. A much cheaper alternative would be to buy artwork from a thrift store. Sometimes I’ll just buy a piece at a thrift store just to use the frame itself. I once gave two very large framed wedding photos as a housewarming gift. Everyone was so impressed because they thought I had the photos custom-framed (which would have cost around $200 each). Nope. They were just $20. At Praisehaven, you’ll find a lot of framed artwork at very affordable prices.

 

  1. Miscellaneous Bric-a-brac – Going to the thrift store is always like a treasure hunt to me. Even if I don’t end up buying anything, it’s sometimes just fun to search and look. You’ll never know what you’ll find. I once bought some decorative boxes and used them as ang pow wedding boxes. I’ve also purchased large linen sheets and made curtains out of them. Unfortunately most of the knick-knacks at Praisehaven won’t be suitable to buy as gifts for other people because the price is written with black permanent marker. I hope one day they change to using stickers or removable tags instead.

Additional Discounts:

If you are a loyalty member (membership free), you get a card which entitles you to a 10% discount for all general merchandise, excluding books, at all Salvation Army thrift shops. Of course, buying from Salvation Army also means that your proceeds will be supporting their good causes. And buying pre-loved goods means you’re helping to reduce waste. It’s a win for everyone!

Salvation Army Praisehaven Mega Family Thrift Store
500 Upper Bukit Timah Road, S678106
Tel : +65 63495312
Business Operating Hours: Mon – Thurs: 10am – 6pm
Fri & Sat: 10am – 9pm
Closed Sundays

6 Comments on What You’ll Find at Salvation Army Praisehaven Thrift Store

  1. I am a regular shopper at thrift stores – in Canada, Philippines, USA, Malaysia. My favourite thrift shop is a small local hospice charity one in Coquitlam, BC, Canada. And a Hawaiian shirt shop in Honolulu. I also like the used clothing ones in Cebu. One day I hope to try some in Japan. I do not buy in thrift stores in Thailand and Cambodia because they have over-priced garbage.

    I am very disappointed in this Singapore store of a major charity. Salvation Army has a very good reputation for value-conscious shoppers in Canada. I have been to other smaller charity-operated thrift shops in Singapore where the prices are much better and the staff cheerier.

    Pros

    +1. Large selection. Basement of mostly furniture and upper floor of everything else.

    Cons

    -1. Non-communicative: I called several times (both on a day off [Sunday] and a working day) No voice mail, no indication that I had even reached the correct store. No one picked up during office hours. Just a generic recording

    Their website advertises listing goods but search function did not work. At all. For anything.

    -2. Discount prices?: For second-hand merchandise nothing close to that of the west (USA etc) where if it’s used it is sold for 20 to 80% of new price. Praise Haven in fact is expensive. I do not mean compared to Bundle shops in Malaysia where I live, but even compared to the worst thrift shop such as Value Village in Canada. The headphones I looked at were cheaper *new* in USA (I did some Amazon searches) or in some cases the second-hand ones were only 30% cheaper than new in USA. A Samsonite attache case, heavy because it was made in 1983, was SGD60. Sixty Sing dollars!

    -3. Cranky staff: One lady in particular upstairs seemed to have the attitude that I was bothering her for asking her to let me try out the display case of headphones. And for such a huge store I found them short-staffed. The charity one I purchased things from downtown last year they were chatty and friendly. The two ladies at Sally Anne were remote, even suspicious. I do not know if it was my beard, but I got the distinct impression that they were ill at ease, as if I must be an axe murderer or thief. I felt like an intruder in their territory instead of a customer. Hey, I just wanted a great deal. And I was always polite though I did voice my concerns over the faulty merchandise and poor value prices. Downstairs male staff much nicer. They didn’t take anything personally.

    -4.Distant location: True, very close to MRT exit, but that MRT (Hillview) is in the middle of nowhere. Old location (‘Family Store’) several years ago was much better.

    -5. Misleading advertising: Perhaps this is a matter of English language natural usage, a difference between Singapore and USA, but I felt cheated when I didn’t get the Father’s Day advertised promotion. Here is what the sign read and showed. You decide…

    “Celebrating Father’s Day. Promotion from 17-23 June, 2016. Enjoy 30% off all electronics and electrical items.” Accompanying illustrations of kitchen and other appliances (fan, toaster, shaver etc). To me,’electronics’ means anything you plug in or is battery operated, with perhaps the exception of toys. Thus, a stereo, a computer and an iphone are all electronics. Not so according to the person who was called it to resolve the dispute. Those are “gadgets”, according to him. Then why not a simple asterisk clarification “not including…”?

    -5. ‘As is’: Although staff told me items are checked out by their technician there are no guarantees, no warranties, no returns. But I had to be very careful because even expensive items were faulty. The Japanese brand briefcase (that I thought was SGD28 but was in fact 280) did not open and close properly, despite numerous attempts. There were two sets of identical model headphones: Audio Technica Q Point ANC 7B – one for SGD 180 and one for SGD100. Clearly there was a difference. When I tested them with a kind passerby’s smartphone (staff provides zero to test them) the cheaper ones provided virtually no sound at all, despite the battery indicator working. I could buy the most recent AT headphones for $230 from Decibel Sg, which has excellent customer service including a ‘try it out’ headphone bar. Why take a chance to save 20%?

    -6.Bizarre pricing: Two identical model IKEA (but for colour) table lights were $15 and $50 respectively. The only difference was that the silver one had a light bulb already installed (IKEA price new SGD9.90) and the white one has a few cosmetic scratches. I switched the light bulb and taking it to the counter, showing the clerk the adapted condition, asking ‘does the price include the light?’ (maybe I said ‘lamp’) She answered a different question, replying “You can test it over there…”, pointing me to a power strip. Then she kept watching me as if I must be a shoplifter.

    I also noticed that unlike in Canada, where customers consist of several groups – working class immigrants, artists, people on social assistance (‘welfare’) and some trend-setters, the customers I saw at Praise Haven appeared to all be working class and lower middle class ethnic Chinese buying and middle and upper class Chinese donating. Despite the large floor space there were very few customers. I saw zero Bangladeshis or other ‘guest workers’. This is not a surprise because it is a real excursion to get there.

    I will not go back.I will try some other stores instead.

  2. postscript on prices…

    The other table lamp I bought was ‘Kvart’ brand. New at IKEA in USA it is USD 13 (= SGD18). So, I saved 15%. Plus the price of the second-hand light bulb. Whoop-de-doo.

    I will try again. But if my next thrift shopping explorations in Singapore are as much miserable failures as this one I will instead do what I do in Malaysia -visit the orang asli village of junk south of Muar,Johor. There I bought my IKEA desk for RMY50 (SGD17). OK, so it had three legs. Cost me zero to have the closest carpenter cut me a piece of scrap wood,which I screwed on. This pine table is RMY 199 (SGD66) at IKEA Malaysia.

    • Thank you for your comments. I too have been a regular shopper at thrift stores (in the US) for my entire life, and agree that the Singapore second-hand market has a long ways to go. But I have seen some improvements over the last 5 years. For many locals, there is still a stigma associated with used items. Hopefully, as more people become more value conscious and more socially and environmentally conscious, these shops will start evolving to be more like the thrift store in other regions.

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