The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, May. 27, 2018

SA thrift store needs customers, donors

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Salvation Army is known for the ways it helps those in a community — and even those just passing through.

Salvation Army Thrift Store Manager Tonya Grunden holds “Sal”, who provides a 20-percent discount for customers who find him in one of his hiding spots around the store. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

The local Salvation Army organization provides money for various emergencies, including helping local residents with their rent and utility payments, as well as food from its pantry operation and hot meals once a week, assistance for travelers who have an emergency while in Van Wert, various programs for local children and adults, and assistance for victims of disaster.

In addition, unlike some charitable organizations, nearly all of the money received by the Salvation Army stays in the community in which it was raised.

“We help the community,” said Tonya Grunden, manager of the Salvation Army’s thrift store on South Washington Street. “That’s what it’s all about.”

But sometimes those who help others need help themselves. That’s the case with the thrift store, which has noticed a slowdown in both items purchased and the donation of items to the store.

Grunden said when fewer items are purchased and fewer items are donated at the thrift store, it has an impact on the ability of the Salvation Army to fulfill its mission of providing community assistance. A large portion of the Salvation Army’s revenues come from its thrift store operation, in addition to its Red Kettle fundraising campaign.

Grunden said the thrift store will take most items people want to donate, but does draw the line at stained or items in poor condition, although some torn and stained clothing items are accepted and re-donated to Neighborhood Relief in Lima, which refurbishes them.

“We basically take just about anything,” she noted.

Donations to the Salvation Army, which is a not-for-profit organization, are also tax-deductible, in most cases, and the thrift store staff will provide receipts and value estimates for donated items on request, Grunden said.

While the thrift store accepts many items, there are some exceptions, including cassettes and VHS tapes, which Grunden said don’t sell any more, and televisions made prior to 2005, because those TVs don’t have connections needed to hook up peripherals such as sound systems, later-model DVRs, and other equipment.

A display of home decor items available in the Salvation Army Thrift Store on South Washington Street. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

People donating items can bring them to the thrift store’s side entrance, where a staff member can usually be found to provide assistance.

Grunden said the store currently includes items in many areas, including a good book selection, toys, kitchen and bath items, tools, linens, and even larger furniture items.

In fact, Grunden said she loves to get furniture items in good shape, since they usually sell very quickly. However, the Salvation Army currently doesn’t have a vehicle to transport furniture and other large items to the store, but has been looking at possibly obtaining a vehicle in the future to transport larger donations.

In addition to its normally low prices, Grunden said the store typically conducts a variety of sales, including its Wacky Wednesday overstock sale and its recent Christmas sale.

“Our goal is to make items affordable,” she added.

The store also has a special incentive a small figure called “Sal” the staff hides in various areas around the store. Those who find Sal automatically receive a 20-percent discount on all the items they purchase that day.

Grunden said her staff has worked hard to make the store clean and attractive, as well as easy for people to find what they’re looking for, noting that she could also use volunteers to help out in the store, at least for an hour or two a week.

Hours for the thrift store are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

POSTED: 05/16/18 at 8:38 am. FILED UNDER: News