After recent setbacks, Salvation Army maneuvers to advance its mission

Clarke Drywall employees Matt LaGree, left, and Armando Flores replace freshly painted ceiling vents at the new Salvation Army retail store in the Peach Tree Shopping Center in Clifton. It is scheduled to open in about a month.

Its former lives included a Rite-Aid, a swap meet and a paint-ball course, but the large empty space at Peach Tree Shopping Center in Clifton won’t be vacant for much longer.

The Salvation Army secured the 20,000-square-foot combined space at 3225 and 3227 Interstate 70 Business Loop and plans to open the retail store to the public in about a month.

“We open stores not just to open stores, but to have the financial foundation to bless the community,” said Salvation Army Capt. Dan Wilson.

The local Salvation Army has been dealt some setbacks in recent years. Employees were terrified last November when a second-story roof collapsed and sent items crashing down in one of its stores, 1038 Ute Ave. Employees and customers escaped unharmed. A fire in July 2009 gutted the nonprofit organization’s Delta store. It has since moved to a new location, 302 Meeker St.

Salvation Army officials have long wanted to open a new store in the Grand Valley, and the Clifton location looked to be a good match, Wilson said.

After being renovated with new Sheetrock, a fresh coat of paint and new lights, the bright space is large enough to showcase many of the community’s donations, he said. Goods will include furniture, clothing and electronics. The store also will feature a book nook. Donations can be dropped off at the Ute Avenue store and at the new store.

“We appreciate and need the donations,” Wilson said.

In the short run, operating out of the new space will be more cost-effective than building a new building, he said.

Operations at the Ute Avenue warehouse tended to eat into proceeds for the nonprofit. The Salvation Army uses profits from its thrift stores in part to operate treatment centers for alcoholics and drug addicts.

Employees from the Ute Avenue store have been filling in at the group’s other locations, and several new employees will be hired to staff the new store, Wilson said.

The Salvation Army is accepting applications, but officials pretty much already know who they will hire to staff the new building, he said.

Wilson said the group may attempt to renovate the Ute Avenue store, but it would cost an estimated $250,000 to $300,000 to do so.

Eventually, The Salvation Army plans to open the store again to serve as a clearing house for items that don’t sell in other locations.

However, the outside yard, which had been filled with donations for resale, will no longer be an option for customers. Since the November incident, crews have cleaned up the yard and moved items elsewhere.

The outdoor yard at Ute Avenue, which some called a junkyard while the nonprofit called it a yard sale, had been an issue that store officials wanted to remedy for a while, Wilson said.

“When I came into town, I thought, ‘Oh my,’” Wilson said, recalling the first time he saw the outdoor yard.


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