The Salvation Army thrift store is finally located where Capt. Dale Brandenburg has been hoping to open it.
It’s part of a larger dream to build a new facility at the corner of North Washington and Jefferson streets in downtown Kokomo. The store and warehouse there were heavily damaged by a lightning strike in June of last year.
A second location on Indiana 931 behind Outback Steakhouse was closed about two weeks ago, Brandenburg said, and all the employees and inventory were moved to the new site in the shopping center next to Walmart off Markland Avenue.
The move is part of the plan to tear down the old building on Washington Street and construct a new one, a plan estimated to cost $1.4 million.
“The store we had down south was too little and it wasn’t able to produce enough money,” Brandenburg said.
The south store was about 8,000 square feet, Brandenburg said, and the new store offers 9,500 square feet of retail space, a 5,000-square-foot backroom and an 8,000-square-foot warehouse next door. The warehouse space is particularly appealing because it allows the Salvation Army to continue its recycling business.
“If clothes don’t sell, say they’ve been on the floor a long time, we put them in bales,” Brandenburg said. “We bale clothes that are stained, ripped, missing buttons.”
Clothes that can’t be sold are wholesaled to other countries and businesses, often to be turned into rags for use in industrial settings, Brandenburg said. The Salvation Army actually bundles anything that can be sold on the recycling market including cardboard, baseball hats, shoes and gloves.
“We try not to throw any clothing material away whatsoever,” Brandenburg said.
Opening the new store meant adding to the Salvation Army workforce. In all, 11 new staff members were hired to help with baling, retail sales and donation pickup.