05/04/06 — Salvation Army thrift store reopens Friday with new look

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Salvation Army thrift store reopens Friday with new look

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 4, 2006 1:48 PM

When the Salvation Army Thrift Store reopens Friday, it will have a new look -- the look of a small department store.

The store has been closed this week so renovations could be done. A group of airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base painted the walls. The tile floors were stripped and resealed.

The checkout area was moved from the front of the store to the middle. A second register was installed to alleviate the long lines that customers sometimes had to wait in.

Salvation Army Commander Maj. Andrew Wiley said that moving the checkout area also created a better visual for the staff working the registers.

"They'll be able to see everything that's going on in the store. It will also make them more accessible to customers."

Wayne Electrical moved the electricity from the front of the store out into the middle to run the cash registers.

The Salvation Army also put in a couple of dressing rooms because there were none.

The thrift store hasn't been renovated since it was built in the early 1980s.

"It's difficult to do any renovations when the store is filled with customers," said Maj. Wiley. "We felt like if we shut it down for a few days, that would allow us to do what we need to do without worrying about a customer getting hurt in the process."

The total cost of the renovations was about $5,000.

Ten broken clothing racks were replaced. Glass in some of the display cases also was replaced.

Maj. Wiley said that when the thrift store reopens, there will be a lot of new stock. "We're trying to position ourselves so that when we reopen Friday, we have our store stocked, but it's not the same stuff that people have been coming and looking at. It's fresh stock."

He said even the arrangement of clothing and other items will be different to give the thrift store's regular customers the feel of a department store.

Customers will find a wide selection of items at the thrift store including clothing and shoes for men, women and children; household items; books; mattresses, bric-a-brac, appliances; CDs; computer equipment and accessories; toys; porcelain dolls; and much more.

"We work strictly off public donations," Maj. Wiley said. "All of the merchandise is at a really reduced price."

He said anybody can shop at the thrift store.

"There's a mindset that just because it's the Salvation Army, people can shop here only if they are just about destitute," he said. "That's not the case. This is just the place to get a good bargain."

Maj. Wiley said it also allows an individual who cannot afford to go to the shopping center the opportunity to clothe his or her family and maintain his dignity.

"Some people don't want a handout," he said. "But they can come into a facility like this and get good clothes for their family at a price they can afford. And they go away feeling good about the fact that they've taken care of their family.

Proceeds from the thrift store support the Salvation Army's service programs, such as help with food, rent, utilities, medication and clothing for needy families. The Salvation Army operates a homeless shelter with a capacity of 22 people.

"So money people spend here stays here going right back into local programs," said Maj. Wiley.

On average, the thrift store generates about $15,000 a month, although sales have been down this year so far, he said. "Part of that is that the store needed a facelift. And we need to boost our customer base."

There are seven full-time and part-time employees. And the store uses community service workers and volunteers.

The thrift store will reopen Friday at 9 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.