When Salvation Army Capt. Doug Dolder was looking for a spot for his next store, he made a choice that may be surprising. The newest Salvation Army Family Store (they don't even call them thrift stores anymore) will open July 30 at 150 Rothrock Road in Fairlawn (near Best Buy and ) in the building formerly owned by Carpet and Tile Liquidators.
"We didn't really have a presence West of Akron or Medina," said Dolder, "and Montrose is a really high-traffic retail area. "So we've been pursuing this site for about three years. The business climate was finally right," Dolder said. "We bought it from a bank."
The Fairlawn Store will employ two full-time managers and 10-12 part-time cashiers, stockers and donation center workers.
The troubled economy seems to be changing site selection philosopy for Salvation Army stores in other parts of the country. In the last two years shops have opened in upscale suburbs outside Detroit, Kansas City and other cities hit hard by joblessness and home foreclosures.
The stores are the financial engine that pays for Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation centers, including a 60-bed facility in Akron. Dolder says he's not sure how much the Fairlawn store will make in its first year, but projects all eight stores in this region will together make in excess of $3.5 million.
In light of the change in focus, the Salvation Army has dropped the "thrift store" tag.
We're Salvation Army Family Stores," Dolder said. "That’s our new image. We really want to concentrate on how we present ourselves.
I would think that anyone regardless of their economic standing will be surprised by our quality and selection. We get new items and items that you cannot distinguish from new. We have gently used clothing and shoes, but we also have electronics, appliances and collectibles. So we're not just a thrift store," Dolder said. "Anybody from the family can come and select something for themselves."
Dolder said the Fairlawn store will raffle off 42 inch plasma television set, gas cards and serve free hot dogs during the lunch hour during its grand opening celebration July 30.
According to Salvation Army Resource Manager Olivia Wakeling, the store is currently open for donations from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday). Large items can be picked up by calling 800 SA TRUCK (728-7825) or by visiting the web site.