There are ways you can make starting a salon a little easier on yourself and your pocketbook I furnished my salon, Nails On Broadway, to my clients’ taste and to my budget by starting my furniture shopping at the Salvation Army.

The first and most important piece of furniture for any nail technician is a table. Look in any catalog and you’ll see they start at $99 and go for up to $900. However utilitarian or beautiful, these tables can be cost-prohibitive to a first-time entrepreneur. They were for me.

I found a beautiful chrome and glass table, five feet long and two feet wide. Glass is great — cleaned with 90% alcohol it sparkles streak-free and it’s very clean. I can fit quite an array of products and gadgets on the tabletop. But, by far, the best feature of my table was its price tag — $15.

You can increase your chances of finding fine merchandise by locating your community’s main Salvation Army store. (Donated merchandise is first sent to the main store; the best stuff is displayed there, and the rest is split up and sent to smaller stores.) If you live too far from the main store, there are still some wonderful things at the local Salvation Army.

I found my pedicure chair at a local store. At first glance, my chair might be mistaken for a shoe shine chair, nice and high. On close inspection, I found a label on the underside that says, “Alda Hospital Division.” It was probably used in an orthopedic ward so a patient could easily sit from a standing position. A flip-down pedestal evens out the distance from the floor to the feet and makes a handy foot bath resting place. This piece, just $10.

Some of my other great finds are wonderful manicure soaking bowls, glass acetone soaking dishes, brush holders, artificial plants — and all for under $1 each. I also found two smaller chrome and glass tables I use for countertop displays. My best find ever? A three-tier retail cabinet with lighted shelves, glass doors, a mirrored cubbie hole with a dropdown shelf, and a large lower storage compartment with doors. This gem was a mere $149.

The decor of my salon reflects my upscale community, and although these pieces are inexpensive, they make a statement. I didn’t have to spend a great deal to obtain quite lovely and functional furniture and equipment.

Happy shopping!

Leslyn Zak opened her Rockport, Mass., nail salon, Nails On Broadway, in 1995. Her salon — Salvation Army furniture and all — was a finalist in NAILS Industry Awards’ 1996 Salon of the Year contest.

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