Who owns Savers USA?

Savers LLC, also known as Savers Thrift Stores or Savers Inc., is a privately held company in the for-profit thrift store and textile recycling industry. Based in Bellevue, Washington, Savers operates more than 300 thrift stores in the United States, Canada, and Australia under a variety of names. Savers is a leader in the for-profit secondhand industry with a mission to provide reuse and recycling services that benefit local communities. But who actually owns and operates this large thrift store chain?

History of Savers

Savers was founded in 1954 in San Francisco by William Y. Hinge and Edward A. Schuman. The two business partners opened the first store under the name Value Village. The store focused on reselling secondhand goods as an affordable shopping alternative for the local community. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Hinge and Schuman expanded by opening more Value Village locations primarily in California and the Pacific Northwest.

In the 1970s, Value Village began franchising and allowing entrepreneurs to open their own secondhand stores under the Value Village name. This sparked rapid growth throughout North America. By the late 1970s, there were over 100 Value Village franchise locations.

In 1980, Schuman and Hinge sold the business to two former employees, Thomas L. Ellison and Jack Locke. Ellison became CEO and Locke served as President. The new owners incorporated the business under the name Savers Inc., headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Savers focused on growing through franchising and acquiring existing thrift stores. They expanded across the United States, Canada, and Australia. In 1999, Savers Inc. merged with Valu Village Canada. This gave the company full ownership over Value Village operations in Canada.

Today, Savers continues to operate primarily through franchising, while owning and operating some locations corporately. The company has about 300 thrift store locations, with around 14,000 employees. Under Ellison’s leadership as CEO for over 30 years, Savers has grown into an international for-profit used goods retailer.

Current Ownership Structure

Savers LLC is a privately owned company. Here is the current ownership structure:

  • Parent Company: Savers, Inc.
  • Headquarters: Bellevue, WA
  • Owner: Thomas L. Ellison (majority shareholder)
  • CEO: Thomas L. Ellison
  • President: Eric Wedegaertner

Savers Inc. is incorporated in the state of Washington. The registered office is located in Bellevue. Thomas L. Ellison has been the majority shareholder and CEO of the company since acquiring it in 1980.

Franchise Stores

Approximately 80% of Savers locations operate under a franchise model. Franchise owners pay an initial start-up fee and ongoing royalties to Savers Inc. They have individual ownership of their franchise store, but must follow Savers’ business model and operations guidelines.

Corporate-Owned Stores

Savers Inc. directly owns and operates about 20% of Savers stores. These corporate-run stores are located across the U.S. and Canada. The corporate stores allow Savers to directly manage certain markets and test out new concepts.

Partnership with Community Donations

Savers has an important partnership with the nonprofit Community Donations. Community Donations was founded by Savers executives and is linked to the company’s recycling programs. Here’s how the relationship works:

  • Savers collects donated goods, purchases inventory, and resells in their thrift stores.
  • Unsold textiles and household goods are sold by the pound to Community Donations.
  • Community Donations recycles and resells the bulk goods to exporters, graders, etc.
  • The profits generated are returned to Savers to support community programs.

This partnership allows Savers to maximize the reuse and recycling of items that don’t sell in their stores. Community Donations helps support Savers’ mission by converting unwanted goods into funding for charitable services.

Financial Performance

As a private company, Savers does not disclose detailed financial results publicly. However, we can look at some high-level metrics to assess the company’s financial performance:

  • Estimated annual revenue: $1+ billion
  • Estimated number of customers: 120+ million annually
  • Pounds of used goods diverted from landfills: Over 680 million per year
  • Estimated annual charitable giving: Over $100 million

With estimated annual revenues exceeding $1 billion and locations across North America and Australia, Savers has grown into one of the largest for-profit thrift store chains.

Savers has provided over $1.8 billion in funding for community programs through its partner Community Donations. The bulk resale of unpurchased used goods helps drive this charitable giving.

Acquisitions & Expansion

A key part of Savers’ growth has come through acquisitions of existing thrift stores. Here are some notable acquisitions and expansions in Savers’ history:

1986: Acquired Putt-Putt Thrift Stores

Savers acquired the Putt-Putt chain of 7 thrift stores in the Pacific Northwest. This expanded their footprint in Washington and Oregon.

1989: Entered California Market

Savers opened their first California thrift store through an acquisition of Thrift Town in San Francisco. This kicked off the company’s statewide expansion in California.

1990: Acquired Merit Mart Stores

Savers continued growing in California by acquiring Merit Mart, a chain of 11 thrift stores concentrated in Southern California.

1995: Entered Las Vegas Market

The company opened multiple thrift stores in Las Vegas by acquiring Value Village stores from a former franchisee. This marked Savers’ entry into the Nevada market.

1999: Acquired Valu Village Canada

Savers merged with Valu Village, bringing all Value Village Canadian thrift stores under direct Savers ownership. This gave Savers full control over Value Village operations in Canada.

2000s: International Expansion into Australia

Savers began expanding internationally by opening stores in Australia under the Save the Children brand name. Australia remains the company’s only major international market today.

2010s: Continued Growth in the U.S. & Canada

In recent years, Savers has focused on growing through new store openings and acquisitions in existing U.S. and Canadian markets. The company also introduced new retail concepts like Savers Fresh, offering brand-new clothing and furniture.

Philanthropy & Community Support

One unique aspect of Savers is the company’s focus on community support and philanthropy programs. Saversprovides funding and resources for various community services through their partner nonprofit Community Donations. Some of these programs include:

Workforce Development

Savers partners with local nonprofits on workforce training programs for disadvantaged or unemployed community members, helping provide the job skills needed to thrive in the retail industry.

Housing Assistance

The company uses funding to help support transitional and emergency housing assistance programs for homeless individuals and families.

Youth & Education

Savers supports youth mentoring and childhood education initiatives in local communities through monetary and volunteer support.

Hunger Relief

Food banks and meal assistance programs for low-income community members are frequently funded by grants from Savers and Community Donations.

Support for Veterans

Programs that provide job training, housing, health services, and community integration support for veterans have received funding from Savers’ philanthropic efforts.

Between direct corporate contributions and Community Donations grants, Savers provides over $100 million in philanthropic support each year.

Business Model

Savers employs a unique thrift retail business model that allows the company to turn donated used goods into funding for community programs. Here are the key aspects of the Savers business model:

  • Donations: Savers collects millions of pounds of used clothing and household goods donated by local communities.
  • Inventory Purchases: In addition to donations, Savers purchases inventory in bulk from nonprofits, businesses, and recyclers.
  • Retail Stores: Donated and purchased inventory is processed and sold through Savers’ chain of more than 300 thrift stores.
  • Recycling: Unsold goods are sold by the pound to partner Community Donations for recycling.
  • Community Funding: Revenues generated from recycling help support Savers’ community grant programs.

This model allows Savers to keep used goods out of landfills through reuse and recycling. The bulk resale of surplus inventory helps fuel Savers’ community support programs across North America.


Savers employs a variety of marketing strategies to promote its thrift stores and donor programs. Some key aspects of Savers’ marketing include:

  • Advertising through newspaper circulars, direct mail, and email campaigns in local markets
  • In-store promotions and contests to drive customer visits
  • Partnerships with local charities and nonprofits for donation drives
  • Community events and sponsorships to connect with local neighborhoods
  • Use of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to highlight inventory and share human interest stories
  • Emphasis on the social mission and community benefits in branding and messaging

Savers relies heavily on local store marketing efforts, positioning thrift shopping as both a smart consumer choice for value and a way to support community programs.


The thrift store industry includes a mix of nonprofit charity shops and for-profit retailers. Here are some of Savers’ major competitors in the for-profit resale marketplace:


Goodwill is one of the largest U.S. nonprofit thrift store chains, with over 3,300 locations. They are a major competitor, especially for donated goods.

Value Village

Value Village competes directly with Savers in the U.S. and Canada. Value Village is the brand name used by Savers in Canada and some U.S. franchise locations.

Buffalo Exchange

Focused on higher-end and boutique secondhand fashion, Buffalo Exchange has over 50 stores concentrated in major metro areas.

Crossroads Trading Co.

With over 125 stores across North America, Crossroads Trading Co. focuses on buying and selling fashionable secondhand clothing and accessories.

Thrift Town

A 30+ location thrift store chain concentrated on the West Coast, primarily in Oregon and Washington.

In addition to these chains, local independent thrift stores also compete for donations and customers in many markets.

Industry Analysis

Savers operates within the broader used goods industry and competes for market share of resale revenues. Here are some key factors shaping the thrift and resale industry:

  • Value-conscious consumers seeking bargains amid high inflation
  • Growth in demand for secondhand and vintage fashion
  • Declining donatable used goods due to “fast fashion” trends
  • Increasing thrift store competition from nonprofits and for-profits
  • Growth opportunities in online resale models
  • Challenges acquiring commercial real estate for new store locations

Savers and other thrift retailers also face rising operating costs for transportation, labor, rent, and other store-level expenses. Maintaining profitability and growth during economic downturns brings an added layer of complexity versus other discount retail sectors.

Future Outlook

As a private company, Savers does not share much detail regarding its forward-looking strategic plans. However, we can look at a few potential factors that may shape the future outlook for the company:

  • Potential for continued stable growth by expanding existing metro store footprints
  • Opportunities to acquire smaller regional thrift chains and standalone stores
  • introductions of new retail concepts and brands to reach changing consumer demand
  • Possible diversification into online resale, especially as e-commerce models emerge
  • Ongoing focus on increasing community funding and expanding philanthropic partnerships
  • Geographic expansion outside North America unlikely in the near term

Overall, Savers seems well-positioned to maintain stability and continue modest growth amid industry consolidation and any economic challenges. The company’s scale, brand recognition, and community focus offer competitive advantages versus rivals.


Savers has grown from a Bay Area thrift store into one of the largest resale chains as a private, for-profit company. It operates over 300 stores primarily through franchising under the Savers, Value Village, and Unique brands. Majority ownership rests with founder and CEO Tom Ellison. The bulk resale of surplus donated goods helps fund over $100 million in annual community philanthropy programs.

With a mission that emphasizes reuse, recycling, and community support, Savers has found success with a unique thrift retail model. The company seems poised for continued steady expansion by acquiring existing stores, opening new locations, and innovating to meet changing consumer demand. As the thrift industry evolves, Savers’ established brand and community roots provide advantages in consolidating market share.