The new Treasures 4 Teachers Thrift Store has a wide variety of items, including toys segregated in a special children's area.
Kimberly Carrillo/AFN Staff Photographer

Since 2004, Treasures 4 Teachers has been helping educators fill their classrooms with donated school and office supplies.

But some of the donations T4T gets aren’t really for classroom use, like living-room furniture, dishes and clothes.

“I would get all this great stuff,” warehouse coordinator Saundra Salotti said. “I asked, why don’t we open a thrift store?”

Six months later, the opportunity has arisen. On Oct. 10, the T4T Thrift Shop will open to the public, with Salotti in her new role as manager. The 2,000-square-foot store is next to Treasures 4 Teachers on South 48th Street in Tempe.

“You never know what you’re going to get here,” she said about the “funky little boutique,” adding:

“I wanted the feel of a boutique for the thrift store.”

T4T founder and Executive Director Barbara Blalock says Salotti is the right person to make it happen. She said Salotti “has experience and an eye for design and style.”

Salotti grew up in the antique business, learning it from her mother and grandparents. She owned antique stores in Palm Desert, California, and Ithaca, New York. She was also in management at Home Depot for 17 years and once managed a thrift store.

She joined the T4T staff about a year ago.

She offered her expertise to Blalock after noticing the kind of things that companies and individuals were donating.

“We were getting everyday donations besides teaching materials,” Salotti said. “We were getting clothes, shoes, housewares and jewelry.”

At first, they would donate the non-schoolroom items to other charities, like Hidden Treasures Thrift Store in Chandler and Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in Mesa. Later, they started holding on to some items with the thought of reselling them later.

“We had three or four storage units and 15 pallets of stuff,” she said. “We have limited space, so we picked and chose the best of the best.”

T4T Thrift Shop will open to the public with no membership fees. Being right next door to a favorite haunt of teachers means the store will have a built-in customer base.

Even though the store hasn’t opened yet, they’re already getting donations.

“We haven’t even advertised for donations, but look!” Blalock said, motioning to a warehouse full of non-school items.

“We’ve had the wheels in motion,” Salotti said. “Donations kept coming in.”

A consignment store that went out of business donated a rolltop desk, hutches and other furniture. Ikea gave a large lot of smashed dishes, which a volunteer sorted through to save unbroken ones. They even put together a few complete settings.

Also around the shop are glassware, china, wall hangings and paintings. There’s also a crafting corner with yarn, fabric, scrapbooking materials, rubber stamps and beads.

“I have so many scrapbooking materials, I don’t know what to do,” Salotti said.

A Scottsdale beading shop that closed donated thousands of dollars’ worth of beads.

Toys, games and old vinyl records are available too. Salotti wants to set up an old stereo to play the records, which range from kids’ songs to lounge music to Christmas records and beyond.

“I think it would be nice to have Christmas music playing,” she said.

After the T4T Thrift Shop settles in, Salotti would like to start exhibiting in craft and antique shows, maybe even art shows, giving more customers the chance to land higher-end pieces.

“We have a network of people who can help us, experts that can send things to auction,” she said. “We’ll clean items and price them after doing research on them.”

T4T Thrift Shop is at 3025 S. 48th St., Suite 102, Tempe. Reach them at 480-751-1122 or follow Treasures4Teacher.org on Facebook.

– Contact Ralph Zubiate at 480-898-6825 or rzubiate@timespublications.com.

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