Salvation Army buys land for bigger store

Building will contain 6000-square-foot store, with apartments, rent space on second floor

Posted: Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Salvation Army in Juneau has bought land for the site of a larger thrift store.

Owning the store's site will save money eventually, and a larger store will bring in more revenues, which go toward social programs, board members said.

The Salvation Army closed the deal last week for a 26,000-square-foot plot on Willoughby Avenue, across from the organization's headquarters, said board chairwoman Cathy Muñoz.

The land, owned by Alaska Electric Light & Power, cost $645,000, she said.

The Salvation Army plans to erect by the end of 2008 a building with a 6,000-square-foot thrift store on the ground floor and revenue-generating apartments or commercial space on the second floor.

The new store would be twice the size of the current shop, also on Willoughby Avenue.

"We've drastically outgrown it," thrift store manager Henry James said Saturday as shoppers flicked their way through racks of clothes and pored over shelves of books.

Some items that could be on display are instead kept in storage, he said.

The thrift shop lives up to its name, selling clothing items for a few dollars apiece, as well as furniture, small kitchen appliances, dinnerware and games at low prices. The store has long-playing records and Trump the Game, with the Donald's incongruous motto: "It's not whether you win or lose. It's whether you win."

Linda Jackson was among the customers Saturday morning. She buys T-shirts and other clothes, some for herself and some for patients in the mental health unit at Bartlett Regional Hospital, where she works.

"They need more space in here," Jackson said, hemmed in by racks of clothes, "because I know a lot of people that come here."

The store brings in $250,000 to $275,000 a year, Muñoz said. The revenues go toward helping low-income families with food, transportation, utility bills, youth camps, and in other ways.

The thrift shop attracts all sorts of people. James sees crew members from cruise ships, passengers looking for inexpensive warm clothes, high school students, and legislators looking for furniture.

For years, the Salvation Army in Juneau has wanted to own land for a store so it wouldn't have to lease space. The organization pays $6,000 a month now, not including heating and maintenance costs, James said.

The Salvation Army will finance the purchase itself with some of the store's revenues and with rent from the new building's second floor, Muñoz said.

Funds going to social programs won't be affected, she said.

The organization has $110,000 in pledges from board members and $25,000 from the Salvation Army in Alaska to start with, she said.

The new building may cost about $850,000. The state Salvation Army will finance the building contingent on community financial support, Muñoz said. A capital campaign will begin in the fall.

The building site once held a Chevron oil tank farm. Chevron has agreed to indemnify the Salvation Army from the cost of correcting any pollution problems that may be discovered during excavation, Muñoz said.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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