The “Power” behind Treasure House Fashion: A fashion resale shop serves women in crisis

Emma Polen | features editor. Sally Power, executive director and founder, is the "power" behind Treasure House Fashion. "I love linking arms with other women to be able to better serve the women in our community that are going through challenging journeys. Come do some fashion treasure hunting at our house!" Power said.

by Emma Polen | features editor

March 31, 2022

The name of the victim in this story has been changed for privacy reasons.

Lisa is a victim of domestic abuse. For years, she has been cyber-stalked by her ex, and it seems like nobody can help her. At 55, she is struggling to provide for her grandchildren when she’s not even certain for her own future. 

“I’m trying to make sure [my granddaughter] is happy and secure. I have to put on my fake but she hears me cry,” Lisa said. 

She’s jumped from one state to another in hopes of escaping the violence and manipulation of her abuser. And in two weeks, she’s being kicked out of her temporary home. 

“I can’t do anything private. I can’t go anywhere private. I can’t talk.”

Lisa did everything she was supposed to – told the police, called crisis centers and even confronted the stalker directly – and still nobody helped. Due to the nature of her abuse, women’s shelters and law enforcement had very little to help.

Lisa had heard about the unique goals of Treasure House Fashion, a women’s resale shop on McKnight Road, toward helping women enduring domestic abuse. On a whim she decided to come in to donate some clothes. “I was desperate,” she said.  

After a brief conversation with an employee working the shop, Lisa was introduced to Sally Power, Treasure House Fashion’s founder and executive director, who is often at the storefront. 

Instantly, Lisa felt a difference between the community in Treasure House Fashion and everywhere else she had turned for help. 

“I felt like I was just going in circles, you know? And to be able to walk in here and just feel separate from it, to have somebody there…just because it’s been really hard. I don’t have anybody,” Lisa said.

When the whole world seemed to be against her and her family, it was Sally Power at Treasure House Fashion who became Lisa’s “angel” of saving grace. She offered clothing, comforted her and supplied her with insider information about a women’s crisis organization in Pittsburgh. 

The Power of a Consistent Message

Treasure House Fashion (THF) empowers women to look their best and feel their best, even while facing incredibly difficult life situations. The mission of Treasure House is “promoting the dignity and self-esteem of women, particularly women in transition or crisis.”

Lisa is one of more than 40,000 women THF has served and supported since its opening in 2001.

The business was originally a for-sale women’s resale shop to help Sally Power, the founder and current executive director, with expenses following the passing of her husband. One day, though, that all changed.

“And all women have a story. Every one of us has a story,” Power said. “So when you hear a story, and it’s just that ‘heart dart’ at you, you want to do something.”

“Women are nurturers by nature,” Power said. Her business was intended to be a place for the “givers” to invest in themselves – a place for the women who are “the heart of the home; the heart of the community.”

In the same spirit of giving, many customers will share the love through giving THF gift cards.

“[Shoppers] will not only buy something for themselves but they’ll pay it forward,” Power said. “They’ll underwrite a gift certificate that they leave for another woman who may come in unexpectedly, who’s just going through some challenging times.”

Lisa is one receiver of this act of kindness. She had the chance to shop at THF with a gift card provided by another customer. At first, she was hesitant to accept the gift. 

“I have a hard time taking and receiving and it made me feel uncomfortable,” Lisa said.

But Power made a convincing argument. To her reluctant receivers, Power says, “You know how good it feels to give to someone else. How could you dare deny this woman the pleasure of doing that? She already feels good that she left this [gift card] for you. And she didn’t even know who you were.”

Even for women not in crisis, THF provides a supportive community. With a plethora of donations received over the past few years, THF has offered a full-store 60% off sale since they reopened after the pandemic, with special 70% sales sprinkled in. 

During the pandemic, Power saw a lot more  women in need of financial assistance, but fewer customers. In addition, the customers who were coming in-person were elderly women, the most vulnerable population. 

“They felt so lonely,” Power said. “They felt [THF] was a safe haven and they would just hang out and talk. A couple of them said to me, ‘Would you hug me?’ because they felt so alone.” And of course, she helped.

The Power of Positivity

THF employees are not just known for their free hugs. 

Throughout the year, the THF staff dress up in silly costumes and give every customer “unsolicited affirmation,” Power said. 

“We try to maintain and cultivate a culture of fun and playfulness and laughter and an embracing attitude. Because life is hard. And laughter is the best medicine,” Power said.

While maintaining an upbeat atmosphere, THF has donated over half a million dollars for women in transition and crisis, according to Power. With the pandemic, THF has still managed to donate $450,000 of clothing in the past 12 months.

In addition, any clothing donations that THF receives from women that Power and her crew dub ‘too loved” go to Saint Vincent de Paul, a national organization that provides materials for the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals. For 20 years, the relationship has been “collaborative and mutually supportive,” Power said.

THF is partnered with over 60 crisis centers in the Pittsburgh area to not only provide clothing and money donations, but also a bit of retail therapy. 

“It makes you feel more confident and walk a little taller…When women leave, they feel good,” Power said.

The Power of Possibility

It has always been Power’s goal to expand her business to better serve more members of the community. 

When Power learned that military women are the least served population in America, she said “Not on my watch.” She has hosted events in hopes of providing a supportive community for these marginalized populations.

Powers plans to expand the service abilities of the physical THF location. 

By expanding the second floor balcony into a complete second floor, Powers hopes to make a career training center, bathrooms and a shower available for the customers who might need them. 

In addition, she has plans for an elevator in THF to make the second floor accessible to disabled and older individuals who pass through the shop.

Due to its difficult location on the side of McKnight Road, Power would also like to fund a mural for the side of the business. Two women from a local art business have promised to design it for her, but Power still needs to find the financial means to make her dream possible.

“It’s kind of crazy but it is what I want,” she said. 

Visit THF in-store at 7607 McKnight Road during their regular hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their inventory is also available for purchase online on Ebay and Poshmark (@treasurehouse4u). More information about how to donate money, time or clothing can be found on their website. 

By purchasing clothing that ultimately makes the wearer feel good about themselves at a low cost, Treasure House Fashion affirms the treasure within all women.