The Salvation Army thrift store in Columbus is pulling up stakes at its Veterans Parkway location and moving to Manchester Expressway near the intersection of River Road.
“We have purchased this site. The previous location we had leased. So it’s a commitment on the real estate,” said Capt. Art Fultz, the Salvation Army corps officer in Columbus.
“It also affords us traffic flow from both directions of the highway,” he said, referring to a median that forced southbound customers to drive past the store before doing a U-turn to reach it.
The nonprofit agency recently purchased the 615 Manchester Expressway property from Lynda Medley Campbell, paying $700,000, according to city records. The building was formerly home to Medley Restaurant Equipment & Supply.
The 12,000-square-foot thrift shop will be stocked Monday and Tuesday, officially opening for business Wednesday with a fulltime staff of eight people, Fultz said.
“But I don’t suppose that we’ll turn anyone away if they care to shop on Tuesday,” he said.
The final day for the 3126 Veterans Parkway location — home to the Salvation Army for about a decade — is Saturday. Thrift shop hours are 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Salvation Army’s mission is helping struggling families and homeless people in the Columbus area. Fultz said the local operation assisted 1,900 families, or about 2,500 individuals in the past year.
Sales of gently used clothing, furniture, household items and some appliances are critical to the effort, he said, with the thrift store’s annual operating budget about $500,000.
“The income from the store is critical to our efforts in feeding people and the outreach work we do with families and young people,” he said.
Even with its name recognition, the recession has taken a toll on the Salvation Army’s local operations, Fultz said. A year ago, the Phenix City thrift store was closed. And people today appear to be a little less inclined to donate items.
“On one hand there certainly is the robust demand for the pricing and types of things that we have available at low cost,” he said. “On the other side of that equation is a new reticence on behalf of folks to buy new televisions, buy new sofas and rather hold on to the things that they have.”
ABOUT THE SALVATION ARMY
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for 130 years in the United States, its website says.
Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from the Salvation Army each year through social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
Of each dollar raised, 82 cents is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. In its most recent national report, the charity said it spent $3.12 billion assisting others during its last fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009).