Savvy Salvage Thrift serves the community

Savvy Salvage Thrift owner Justice Barnes pictured outside his shop.
Photo courtesy Devin Myers

Justice Barnes is best known in Tallahassee as the owner of Savvy Salvage Thrift, a
staple of Railroad Square Art District which has specialized in selling vintage goods
since it opened in 2016. Barnes keeps a wide variety of items stocked in Savvy
Salvage’s compact space, but it is Barnes’ story which stretches far beyond the
confines of his shop.

Savvy Salvage Thrift is one of several Black-owned businesses rooted in the popular art
park off FAMU Way. Knowing so, Barnes aims to be “a pillar in the community,” by
making his space inclusive of the local community.

“It is important to make our businesses loving places that are going to open their arms
to everybody — all ages, all races, all nationalities and all genders,” Barnes said.
Barnes says he recognizes the needs of his community, noting that local ZIP code
32304 was found by a 2018 Florida Chamber of Commerce report to be the most
poverty-stricken in all of Florida – as well as Tallahassee being the most economically
segregated city in the country, as documented in a 2015 study by the Martin Prosperity

Barnes grew up in the impoverished Tangelo Park suburb of Orlando, where he spent
his adolescent years finding trouble on the streets. When his brother was attending
Florida State University, his mother sent him to Tallahassee to give her young son the
chance to lead a better life.

Prior to opening Savvy Salvage Thrift in January 2016, Barnes had spent much of his
career in the sales industry. He gained managing experience at numerous companies
and opened seven stores throughout Tallahassee.

After spending years climbing the corporate ladder, Barnes sought out something that
would have him investing more in himself. After turning down a $100,000 annual salary,
he decided to start his own business venture that would eventually become Savvy
Salvage – a name inspired by its meaning of “smart saving.”

Of all the hats that Barnes has worn throughout his life, none are as important to him
than being a family man. Barnes’ strong companionship with his wife has been the
positive force that has motivated him to continue with his direction in life. The couple
has several children, who he hopes will keep Savvy Salvage serving the next
generations to come.

“I’m encouraged to share this place with my kids, because they know the kind of social
change we create.”

Throughout his life, Justice Barnes has continued to look toward the future. Now seven
years into his venture with Savvy Salvage, he hopes to continue supporting the
Tallahassee community that has supported him for so long.