Salvation Army plans to expand

A new building next door would almost triple thrift store's size

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2007

Springtime means many things, but at Juneau's Salvation Army thrift store it means everyone starts cleaning out their closets and bringing in donations.

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"We're just beginning to get our inundation of items coming in more steadily," said Henry James, store manager. "It fills up fast and frequently."

That's a problem for a 2,100-square-foot store, with a storage room that measures just 10 by 15 feet. And it's why James and his co-workers are looking forward to the day they can move into the Salvation Army's new store, planned for the vacant lot next door.

The Salvation Army has been considering building a new thrift store for the last decade, said Maj. Joe Huttenlocker, head of Juneau's Salvation Army branch.

"With the amount of donations that we get in to the store, we've basically outgrown the space," Huttenlocker said. "Right now we just don't have the capability, with the limited space, to implement the sorting system that the army has developed over the years."

The Salvation Army purchased the vacant lot on Willoughby Avenue in May 2005.

The new store will cost roughly $1.5 million and measure approximately 100 by 60 feet, Huttenlocker said. The current location, 2,100 square feet, costs $6,000 a month to rent.

Deals

A look at some of the prices at Juneau's Salvation Army:

• Green camel's hair Stafford sportscoat - $10.

• White Sasson pants, size 13 - $4.

• Teddi's of California print shirt with butterflies, size 14 - $3.50.

• Electronic Stratego board game - $1.50.

• Jacksonville Jaguars 64 oz. thermos - $1.

• "Raquel: Total Beauty," Raquel Welch fitness program - $1.

The Salvation Army was hoping to start construction of the new plan this summer, but the increased cost of steel and other materials has forced a re-examination of the initial plans.

"They're in the process of looking at different styles of buildings and plans that would best suit the lot, and also keep it within a reasonable building cost," Huttenlocker said.

"The hope is if we don't get it started this year, then early next spring, and we can be ready to move into it by the time our current lease expires," he said.

The lease runs out at the end of March 2009. The Salvation Army rents its current building from Don and Bruce Abel, and has been in that spot since 1985.

The thrift store has two full-time employees, and a small squadron of volunteers, sorting through donations to get them out on the floor. It plans to hire a part-time employee for the summer season.

"You get backlogged and you end up with a breakdown of the system here," James said. "It's a matter of us workers altering between stations to get things done. It's ongoing, as they say, never-ending."

The thrift store brings in an average of $15,000 to $20,000 a month, Huttenlocker said. The amount is higher from March through October, when there's more foot traffic.

The store is not planning on raising its prices, Huttenlocker said. In fact, prices have remained fairly static on the main clothing board for the last six years.

"We've been good at trying to keep prices down," Huttenlocker said. "That's what the store is for, to keep it as low-cost as possible to help folks in the community who need the resources of the store."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.



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