Future of thrift store uncertain

A ceiling collapse at The Salvation Army’s thrift store on Ute Avenue left extensive damage. Trusses that held up the second story gave way, but investigators aren’t sure why. Employees who worked there will be relocated temporarily to the organization’s other thrift store on Fourth Street.

With Christmas a few weeks away, the ceiling collapse at a thrift store run by The Salvation Army couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Officials said they were relieved that no one was trapped or injured when a portion of the ceiling at the store, 1038 Ute Ave., caved in Friday. Many items were tossed out the front door as firefighters scoured for any shoppers trapped in the rubble.

Staff members who gathered at the site Saturday to survey the extensive damage took deep breaths and vowed to move forward.

“We just keep going. We can’t stop,” employee JoElla Hunsberger said. “That’s what they taught us.”

The store won’t be reopened for some time, Salvation Army Capt. Dan Wilson said.

Structural engineers must assess the damage, and the organization at that time will decide whether to raze the sheet metal building or rebuild it. Trusses that held up the store’s second story gave way, but investigators aren’t sure why. The second-story loft was used for storage.

Staff will clean up the exterior, but any further work at the store will be stalled at least until after the holidays.

“The next few weeks we’ll be focused on Christmas,” Wilson said. “We want to be a blessing for the community.”

Employees who worked at the warehouse will be relocated temporarily to the organization’s other thrift store, 1155 N. Fourth St.

Folks in need of food assistance or toys for children can sign up at the main office next door, 1235 N. Fourth St. That’s the same location where residents can donate food items and unwrapped, new toys.

Already, about 800 people have signed up for holiday assistance, Wilson said.


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