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Salvation Army: Thrift store closing possible

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Salvation Army may close its Thrift Store in Collinsville if it cannot generate enough income to cover its expenses, the army's commanding officer said Friday.

Maj. Orville Chambless stated in a release that the store is losing $150 to $200 a day in income versus expenses.

"The staff (at this time the only staff member is the manager) have known for quite a long time of the loss that is being experienced each day and the fact that if there was not a turnaround that the probability of closing was very real," he added.

Chambless said he has met with a local resident, who regularly shops at the store and who has experience setting up business models. The man will attempt to devise a plan to keep the store open, even if just for a few months, "to see if we can breathe life back into the part of our ministry," he added.

The person will propose some ideas to the army's regional administrative office in Washington, D.C., and its local advisory board to see if the store can be maintained, Chambless said.

If the store closes, he said the local army will continue to offer clothes, furniture, household items and coats to people in crisis.

"This is and has always been a part of our everyday ministry even before there was a Thrift Store and we are still taking donations for this ministry. We are looking at the possibility of holding sales at least twice a month for those who are not in crisis but are still looking for a bargain," he stated, adding that such sales would be held at the army's Memorial Boulevard location.

The Salvation Army includes both the Thrift Store and the Salvation Army Corps (Social Services Ministry), the release states.

The Salvation Army Corps on Memorial Boulevard offers various services to the community, including helping people pay for essential needs in times of crisis; feeding programs; after-school programs; community programs similar to Scouting; veterans counseling with the VA; drug and alcohol dependency and smoking cessation programs; and others.

As one of 32 Salvation Army Corps Units in Virginia and Washington, D.C., it has access to specialized, residential facilities for those with drug and alcohol problems; summer camps; domestic violence shelter; and emergency disaster teams. It also helps people at Christmas through various projects.

Most of the money to pay for that ministry comes from donations, grants and similar sources, the release states. Also, funds should be generated from the sale of items donated to its Thrift Store, but that has not happened since at least 2004, the release added.

The store's first priority is covering its own expenses, but for about the past year, the Salvation Army Corps has had to cover the salaries for the store because the income was just not there, the release states.

"This time last year we had a manager, truck driver, truck helper and in previous years two clerks. But as time went on the daily stores sales went further and further down. The store was not even bringing in enough income to cover payroll so employees had to be let go with the last one other than the manager this past July," Chambless stated.

He did not elaborate on reasons for the store's decline, but added, "we have not come to this decision (to consider closing) lightly or even quickly," he said.

Chambless added that whatever happens with the store, the Salvation Army is not leaving the community.

"The Salvation Army made a commitment to serve this community back in 1970 and we are here to stay," he added.


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