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Donors, unite: The Salvation Army reaches out for help in its Detroit-area thrift stores

Salvation Army Store

Macklemore has it right: You can find some kicking threads at the neighborhood thrift store.

Now, I’m not going to credit a white rapper with the recent run on merchandise at Metro Detroit’s Salvation Army stores. But something – namely, the economy and people’s perceptions of value – has made thrift-store shopping a hot ticket.

Granted, most teens eventually find their way to the thrift shop. Like Macklemore, we’re all looking for a good price and individual style. But here’s the point of this blog post (don’t you wish they all had one?). It is good to give and to receive.

The Salvation Army wants everyone to know they’re welcome to shop at its retail stores. You are indeed welcome to othe party. But we’ve collectively need to step up, get those bags of clothing and brick-a-brac out of the basement and into its warehouses. The Army needs you, soldier.

The need for donations is becoming critical, said Jacqulynn Idzior, director of operations at The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center. These ARC thrift stores and warehouses are echoing with empty shelves and not enough coming in to stock them. Chances are if you drop off some bags this morning, you’ll see the items on the floor by the afternoon.

“People are being more economically conscious about what they’re purchasing. It makes sense to shop at thrift stores; some of our merchandise is nearly new and there’s plenty with tags still on them. Why spend $25 for a new shirt when you can spend $5?” Idzior said.

storeSo between Macklemore and the Fiscal Cliff, things have been hopping around her offices.

“There was a lot of nervousness as far as spending surrounding the election; our sales continued to be very good following that point,” Idzior added.

The overall number of people donating has decreased in recent weeks, an alarming trend for The Salvation Army here. And the amount of donations needed has continued to climb. The continually increasing demand and lack of supply, if you remember your Economics 101, equals a problem that needs a human solution.

“We need everything. The clothing accounts for 60 percent of our sales, so we’re looking for wearables – shirts, pants, skirts, shoes, accessories, belts. And we love our brick-a-brac – candles, dishes, bake ware. We need that desperately.”

Sales trends are showing that 2013 will be another big year for the 33 area Salvation Army stores. During its New Year’s Day Sale, the chain reported sales increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year.

Prior to the New Year, the ARC put a call out for year-end donations, resulting in a lower response than usual from the community. The ARC reported a 20 percent drop in donors in the last two weeks of 2012, yet actual donations surged to 40 tons more merchandise than in 2011.

“While it may sound like a lot of product, it’s really only enough to get us through one day of sales across our metro Detroit thrift stores,” said Idzior. “The need for donations remains prominent in our stores and warehouses.”

Every donation results in funding for The Salvation Army’s ARC programs. These rehabilitation facilities are independently funded, 180-day residential rehabilitation program for adults.

The ARC is a key part of TSA’s mission, and offers substance-abusing adults the opportunity to rebuild their lives through a voluntary, short-term residential self-help program. Through these programs, people ideally earn the dignity, self-esteem and personal strength that will allow them to resist the desire to abuse a substance and regain their rightful place as contributing members of society.

Last year the ARC Provided essential services including 343,632 meals, 98,208 nights lodging, 78,238 counseling sessions, 43,806 worship/Christian education sessions and served 1,919 individuals in residence.  All free of charge.

“These donations fund our rehabilitation program. The Facility in Detroit serves 300 men. The facility in Romulus holds 80 women. They’re going through issues in their life, dealing with substance abuse and different additctions. We help them get their life in order, be productive.

And you’ll have two new spots to shop soon. The Salvation Army is adding its newest thrift store March 9 in Taylor. The store is located at 9830 Telegraph Rd. in front of the Oakwood Heritage Hospital. And to give some time to our friends over at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, it recently announced it will open its first retail store in Oakland County this year.

The Commerce location is scheduled to open in June. The new 15,000 square foot store, located at the corner of Haggerty and Crumb roads, north of Maple Road, is now under construction. It will be the third Goodwill store in Metro Detroit, following successful operations in Canton and Dearborn, and the first to be located in newly constructed retail space.

Donations of gently used clothing, linen, household appliances, furniture, toys, shoes, purses and housewares are accepted at all Salvation Army thrift store donation centers.  Donation centers are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For specific hours of your local Salvation Army thrift store, visit www.salarmythrift.com.

One comment on “Donors, unite: The Salvation Army reaches out for help in its Detroit-area thrift stores

  1. Ms. Idzior: I'm afraid you have some bigger supply chain issues. I cannot count the number of times when I have either been dropping off donations or been shopping at a local Salvation Army store (there are 5 that I frequent quite regularly) and have seen bin after bin after bin of donations sitting outside unprotected; this last time it was threatening rain and the employee told me he had nowhere to move them to. I think you need to hire more staff to sort and bring the items INSIDE before they are damaged beyond repair, or provide alternate means (I've seen a semi truck on-site more than once to handle the influx). Frankly, I was so disturbed by the careless way my household items were treated the last time I made a donation that I'm planning to take my next batch to Goodwill or call The Purple Heart. If you'd like to learn which locations I'm referring to, please feel free to contact me. I still stand by the mission of The Salvation Army and hope this problem is addressed.

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