Dozens of Salvation Army thrift shops have permanently closed since 2020, and more are expected to shutter throughout the current calendar year, according to executives.
This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: Wikipedia.org, SalvationArmyUSA.org, ShopTheSalvationArmy.com, BestLifeOnline.com, Sports.Yahoo.com, and Omaha World-Herald.
Wikipedia features a comprehensive overview of the Salvation Army organization, which was founded in July of 1865 as a religious entity: The Salvation Army (TSA) is a Protestant church and an international charitable organization headquartered in London, England. The organisation reports a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million, comprising soldiers, officers and adherents collectively known as Salvationists. Its founders sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both their "physical and spiritual needs". It is present in 132 countries, running charity shops, operating shelters for the homeless and disaster relief, and humanitarian aid to developing countries.
As it regards the charity shops aspect of the organization, Wikipedia elaborates: When items are bought at the Salvation Army thrift stores, part of the proceeds go towards The Salvation Army's emergency reliefs efforts and programs. Textile items not sold are recycled and turned into other items such as carpet underlay. The Salvation Army also helps their employees by hiring ex-felons depending on the circumstances because they believe in giving people second chances. There are many job opportunities available for them nationwide and are able to move their way up to become a manager or even work in one of their corporate offices.
It should be noted Salvation Army’s outlets are often confused with those of Goodwill Industries, which runs similar shops for similar charitable reasons. See my recent NewsBreak article, “Fact Check: Plans For Goodwill Location Closings in 2022,” however, for further information on the unrelated company.
SalvationArmyUSA.org claims the Salvation Army organization proper services 131 countries. According to affiliated sites, though thousands of Salvation Army thrift stores share global brick and mortar visibility, the organization also maintains an online presence. See ShopTheSalvationArmy.com for their e-Commerce shop.
Though the organization remains a stalwart, closings of individual Salvation Army thrift store locations in recent years have troubled the organization, leading to questions appearing online as to the entity’s long-term health, and verification of future closings from company executives.
The recent closings as referenced have been due to three primary reasons:
- Repercussions from COVID-19
- A cultural shift to online shopping
- Financial metrics resulting from a volatile economy
As these issues are still occurring today, the organization continues to actively reconsider the operations of under-performing locations.
Let us explore further.
Salvation Army, 2022
Per a June, 2022 article published by BestLifeOnline.com, entitled “This Popular Discount Chain Is Closing Stores, Starting June 27,” inflation has been a crucial factor in recent closings and likely for closings still to come.
As excerpted from the article: Based on local reports, it appears that the Salvation Army is also gearing up to close some of its locations around North America. A Salvation Army in Duluth, Minnesota will officially close its thrift store on July 1, Fox 21 News reported. "We want to let people know that, as the Salvation Army, our services are not ending, we just cannot do a retail store," Captain Teri Ellison told the news outlet, noting that the store was closing after 40 years due to financial loss and lack of staff. Other closures will happen even sooner. The Salvation Army is ceasing all operations in Thompson, a city in Manitoba, Canada, on June 27, according to the Thompson Citizen. Unlike the Duluth shutdown, this closure impacts the organization's entire presence in the area, which includes a thrift store and food bank.
The article also quotes Greg Tuck, the assistant national community relations and development secretary at The Salvation Army USA: Despite closing stores and increasing costs, the Salvation Army is still working to provide its standard service for customers. According to Tuck, the company's stores are not raising prices that are unreasonable for frugal shoppers.
Another recent piece, by Sports.Yahoo.com, “Salvation Army Closing Family Store,” placed the matter of a then-upcoming closing of an Owensboro, Kentucky location into perspective: The problem isn't just local. An internet search shows that in the past couple of years, Salvation Army thrift stores have closed in Evansville; Ashland; Champaign, Illinois; Beckley, West Virginia; Anchorage, Alaska; Lockport, New York; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Casper, Wyoming and other cities.
This month alone, The Omaha World Herald reported the closure of the last thrift store in northeast Omaha — yet another Salvation Army location: The closure of the last major thrift store in northeast Omaha has raised concerns about neighbors’ access to affordable goods, especially in this inflationary era. The Salvation Army of Omaha has shut the doors at its North 30th Street store, the latest in a line of thrift stores departing the city’s inner core.
As with those operated by Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army thrift shops are stalwarts, and will not be disappearing from the U.S. However, new closures are expected to be announced in the short-term by the company.
I will post any updates on closures here, on NewsBreak, as (or if) they happen.
Thank you for reading.