The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Sooke is closing its doors.

Sally Ann leaves town

UPDATED--Sooke Salvation Army Thrift Store closing on June 20.

The Salvation Army thrift store has been a place where people could purchase used clothes, household items, used electronics and at times, furniture; even recycle television sets.

All of that however, is about to change. The Salvation Army Thrift Store, which employed approximately 10 employees, will be closing its doors on June 20.

The Sooke thrift store has been an important business in Sooke since 1985.

“We are disappointed for the loss of our Sooke Thrift Store. It is a valuable member of our family and the Sooke community, and will be missed greatly,” said Michele Walker, National Retail Operations Manager at the Salvation Army. “We are working our very best to accommodate our team at the store, who are all a wonderful group of people we care deeply about.”

None of the employees at the Sooke thrift store would answer any questions with the media regarding the reason why it is shutting down its local facility and would prefer privacy on the matter in the time being.

Given its abrupt announcement however, the rumour mill has gone in full swing, particularly in regards to upcoming infrastructure work in the centre of town, and higher taxes being possible causes – though Mayor Maja Tait confirmed neither of those things were factors in the thrift store’s closure.

“In speaking with senior management from the Salvation Army’s head office, I was advised that under no circumstances was infrastructure a reason for their departure,” Tait said, noting that the Salvation Army has a ‘Permissive Tax Exemption’ which means they are not required to pay commercial property taxes, as per Bylaw 607 adopted on October 27, 2014.

Rising operating expenses however, such as trucking, utilities, as well as higher lease rates were some reasons for the closure.

“The store has always been a challenge even with below market rates, as only 30 per cent of donated items can be re-sold, the rest must be re-packaged, recycled or disposed of,” Tait said, pointing out that the other thrift store in town, the St. Vincent de Paul at the Hope Centre has a better mechanism in place in terms of attracting customers, such as its residential location and support from neighbouring businesses.

Tait mentioned that ideally, as Sooke’s Town Centre develops, perhaps another suitable location may present itself, in which case approximately 4,000 sq ft would be required as they need sufficient warehouse space, though none of that is certain at this point in time.

To date, the Salvation Army operated more than 200 thrift stores from coast to coast and is considered one of the country’s largest national recycling operations. The items they sell are donated, and the proceeds from the sale of these second-hand items are used to support the Salvation Army’s social programs. Those in desperate need can also be referred by various social services agencies and are given items free of charge.

While the Sooke location is closing down, other Thrift stores will continue to operate in the area:

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, 6750 West Coast Road, Sooke

The Salvation Army Victoria Recycling Centre Warehouse: 765 Vanalman Avenue, unit 104, Victoria

Langford Thrift Store:  777 Goldstream Avenue, Langford

Brentwood Thrift Store:  7177 West Saanich Road, Brentwood Bay

View Royal Thrift Store:  307 Island Highway, Victoria

Victoria Thrift Store:  525 Johnson Street, Victoria