Sweet Salvage

Located in the central Phoenix Melrose District, Sweet Salvage is more of an event than a store. Open Thursday through Sunday the third weekend of the month, Sweet Salvage is known as an “occasional sale.”

[Stephanie Perrault/Tribune]

There’s no denying that girls love anything that shimmers, sparkles or glistens. For a pair of Valley gals though, the real fun is finding diamonds in the rough and making them shine.

Katie Hibbs and Kim Rawlins met while working their separate booths at Chandler’s Merchant Square Antique Mall. They soon discovered a shared passion for “good junk” and repurposed it toward a new end — opening one of the Valley’s hot new home decor destinations — Sweet Salvage.

Located in the central Phoenix Melrose District, Sweet Salvage is more of an event than a store. Open Thursday through Sunday the third weekend of the month, Sweet Salvage is known as an “occasional sale,” along the lines of the popular online retailer One King’s Lane of New York City. Plebeians like myself would call it a fire sale: limited merchandise only available for a short amount of time.

Lovers of all things chic and antique, treasure seekers on the prowl and interior designers looking for personality pieces line up outside Sweet Salvage around 8 a.m. on the third Thursday of the month, waiting for the doors to open at 10 a.m., Hibbs and Rawlins said. Snaking through the cracked and broken parking lot of the old Cactus Automotive Repair store, the line winds around the corner in front of a little shop with boarded windows on Pierson Street.

Five contest winners, selected from their pool of repeat shoppers, enter 15 minutes early, getting first pick of all the fun, scrappy, and peeling goodness Rawlins, Hibbs and their dealers have been stockpiling for a month.

Chairs, tables, dressers, tea pots, books, chandeliers, knick-knacks, paintings, pillows, suitcases and everything else imaginable is stacked, hung and draped over, on top and around each other in a way that draws and diverts the eye simultaneously.

Rawlins and Hibbs select a theme for each, sale such as Romancing the Home or French Market, and harmonize everything accordingly. Though they snag the majority of their finds from markets, auctions and estate sales in Arizona and California, some of the merchandise on display comes from contributing dealers and distributors and is marked with individualized price tags.

Drawing customers from all over the Valley, the monthly sale has already outgrown its humble home in the old automotive repair store and is moving down the street to a 5,000-square-foot location that will include four cash registers and 20 feet of counter space, ideal for wrapping and packaging, said Rawlins and Hibbs.

Though new customers like myself stop in to see what all the fuss is about, Rawlins and Hibbs said they have a lot of repeat customers who come every day of the show. Dealers and designers come looking for particular pieces, including some recently from Postino’s Wine Bar and Cafe to find items for the new downtown Gilbert restaurant.

The Sweet Salvage gals credit their success in part to the support they’ve received from the Melrose District. Neighbors frequent the sales and often bring a bottle of wine by in the evenings to browse the store and chat with friends.

Tara Ferguson and John Mudd of Phoenix are an example. Having attended the show four times, they are Sweet Salvage pros. “It’s really interesting stuff,” Tara said. “I like to come and see how they put everything together. You may find a treasure you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” she said.

Though the decorating style of their historic Tudor home in the Melrose District is more European than shabby chic, Ferguson and Mudd have been able to find things that mesh well with their tastes, including a magnificent wrought iron chandelier they plan to hang in a spot that’s been empty for years, they said.

“The fun part about it,” Ferguson said, “is that it’s kind of an event. I even brought my parents once.”

An event is exactly what Hibbs and Rawlins want it to be. “It’s a grab your girlfriends and have a day kind of event. And we all need that,” Rawlins said.


What: Sweet Salvage

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 17, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 18-20.

Where: 4648 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix

Information: (602) 279-2996 or www.sweetsalvage.net

• Contact writer: sperrault@evtrib.com or (480) 898-5629

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