There is a certain ilk of people who choose to live their life like Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris. In short, we choose to live in the past. For many reasons, the allure and romanticism of a previous time is appealing. For me, part of that “previous time” always included walking into The Salvation Army Thrift Store at 1927 Third Avenue in Beaver Falls, PA. It had always been my Minuit à Paris and it was the closest thing I could get to going back in time.
For years, I worked in western Pennsylvania and my schedule allowed me to patron this particular Salvation Army store several times a week. When the clock struck twelve, I dashed from my office with great anticipation. It would be a magical lunch hour filled with retro items galore and the ambiance of a simpler time.
Each and every time I went there, it was a joy. Bright, big and clean, this store always had a steady flow of customers, some younger, some older, some college students from nearby Geneva College and some were simply Owen Wilson-esque types yearning to spend just one hour in that dimension that whisked them away from the modern day. Always buzzing with activity, The Beaver Falls Salvation Army had something for everyone – a vintage coat or a dress, retro paintings, functional furniture, cool 1960’s dishes or funky 1950’s glassware. This store was truly one of a kind. One never left disappointed.
In February, I made a trip to my old stomping grounds only to discover sad news. To say, I was disheartened to find out that this Beaver County treasure was closing would be a severe understatement. The building was being sold and the one time staple of downtown Beaver Falls was to pass like that brief moment in time.
Last week, I called the Administrator of Business at the regional Salvation Army office in Allegheny County. She confirmed to me that the closing was going to take place and I responded by relaying to her some of my fond memories. It is important that we support the thrift stores in Pennsylvania and everywhere as the charities they support do so many valuable things. For this particular store, April 14th will be its last day.
Whatever is slated to go into this spacious, light drenched shop that helped so many families in the area, it will never hold a candle to its predecessor. I am hopeful that a Salvation Army Thrift Store will return to Beaver Falls even if it is to another location in that city. The goods that were consistently donated to that store were like no other. Besides helping to propel hopeless collectors like myself backwards in time, this store clothed people, furnished college dorm rooms and provided income to this great Beaver County town. The Salvation Army helps so many people. I know what it did for me, especially The Beaver Falls Thrift Store. It is just one more thing for me to miss about the past.