Sweeping Changes For Salvation Army Thrift Stores in 2022

Joel Eisenberg

Due to years of declining sales and location closures, executives for the stalwart organization have announced substantial business model changes moving forward.

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The Salvation Army Family Store & Donation CenterAdobe Stock

Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: Sports.Yahoo.com, BestLifeOnline.com, ShopTheSalvationArmy.com, The Arizona Republic, and SalvationArmyUSA.org.

Introduction

My previous article for NewsBreak, “Plans For Salvation Army Thrift Store Closings in 2022,” detailed current plans for nationwide location closures.

The article referenced a recent piece by Sports.Yahoo.com, “Salvation Army Closing Family Store,” which 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.

Recent closings as referenced have been due to three primary reasons: Repercussions from COVID-19, a cultural shift to online shopping, and financial metrics resulting from a volatile economy.

As a result of recent Salvation Army business issues which culminated in these closings and more, executives for the organization have announced a host of changes moving forward.

Let us explore further.

Salvation Army Changes, 2022

The stores have faced primary challenges no different than most major businesses. Among recently-announced changes are the following:

  • Store closures on a case-by-case basis: According to 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: 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.
  • A renewed focus on e-Commerce: See ShopTheSalvationArmy.com for the Salvation Army e-Commerce shop.
  • A renewed focus on in-store donations: According to the Arizona Republic’s July 3, 2022 piece, “Salvation Army Thrift Stores Fund Rehab Services, But Seeing Fewer Donations,” increases in this regard are necessary nationally, and particularly so on a local Arizona level: The Salvation Army is putting out the call for more donations and more shoppers at its chain of Valley thrift stores. Last year, revenue at the second-hand outlets was down about $385,000 -- roughly 25% lower than pre-COVID levels. Proceeds from the stores largely fund the nonprofit's Adult Rehabilitation Center, which provides free substance abuse treatment. “The Salvation Army is not immune from the economic obstacles other businesses face, including changed buyer behavior due to the pandemic, staffing shortages, and the rising cost of gas and other products," said Major Darren Stratton, who oversees the stores in Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler and Peoria. 
  • Forbes.com, in its archived 2020 piece titled “The Salvation Army Wants You to Believe They Changed,” discusses a still-ongoing effort for the religious-based company (see Wikipedia page here for a history) to improve their reputation, outreach, and press at it regards the LGBTQ community.
  • For other changes and recent efforts, including ongoing aid to Ukraine, see the news section of the organization’s website, linked here.

Conclusion

As with any other business, including those in the non-profit realm, business models will continue to change per the state of the world in which it operates. As The Salvation Army is a global organization, and overseas economic volatility mirrors our national economic state, the changes are expected to be widespread and all-encompassing regardless of location.

Should individual stores continue to suffer, they will be prime for permanent closure.

I will post any updates on the matter as they happen, here on NewsBreak.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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