PENDLETON - The Salvation Army Thrift Store will cut its hours beginning Wednesday, Oct. 6, the first step toward running the store with volunteers beginning in November and possibly closing altogether.
Customers interviewed at the store this morning said they are sad to hear the news.
"They are going to hurt the community badly, because there's no place for the low-income people to find clothing for their kids and themselves," said Penny Chamberlain of Pendleton. She said The Salvation Army is hurting itself because store prices are too high.
Heidi Caldwell, who was browsing through the clothing department, said, "I'm disappointed because I like to come here and look around. I'm on a tight budget and I can't afford to go to the regular stores. It's probably going to be a let down for a lot of people."
Greater financial support and volunteer help is needed to keep the store open, according to Capts. Shane and Ragina Halverson of The Salvation Army Pendleton Corps.
The recommendation to close the store came from Cascade Division headquarters in Portland, Shane Halverson said, and was announced to the staff Monday.
"The donations of goods we have been getting from our community are a true blessing, and we are extremely grateful for them," Regina Halverson said. "But it is not enough. Although we hope the thrift store can remain open and continue serving our community, people need to know that The Salvation Army has not been getting enough monetary donations or sales to keep it running full time."
Shane Halverson said the lack of community support for the thrift store has grown during the past four years the Halversons have been here.
"Every year we've just lost a little more income," he said.
The thrift store reduction will include:
Store hours will be Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
The store will accept donations on Wednesdays only, and no longer will pick them up, because of the lack of manpower.
Donations of major appliances will not be accepted.
Halverson said the next step in the phase-out plan is a "giant blowout sale" scheduled to run from Oct. 15-31, during which all store merchandise must be liquidated.
Then, on a trial basis, from November to January, the thrift store will be run by volunteers. Only a paid manager will remain on staff to supervise the volunteers.
"Because of the financial crisis we're in we're having to lay off a majority of our staff," Shane said. "We really feel for them."
Store manager Monica Moore said she's disappointed 11-12 employees would be let go.
"I believe the store provides a huge service for the community," she said. I will try everything I can do to keep this store open in some capacity. We need to have this store here."
Volunteers are needed Tuesday through Saturday to help with the set up, pricing, accepting donations, cashiering, and a variety of other needs to make the Thrift Store run successfully, she said.
"I'd like the community to know that we want to keep this service available to them, we just need the volunteers and financial support to make it happen," Gina said.
Shane added, "If we can recruit more volunteer help, we'll open up another day, Thursday for example."
The Salvation Army owns the 13,000-square-foot building at 1801 S.W. Court Ave., and uses all of it, he added. The building was dedicated in 1993 to the people it serves.
"All of the money we make there goes to support social service programs in the community," Gina said, adding that the agency commonly gives away $300 in clothing and other items daily plus $200 in vouchers to people in need.
"It's a great help to the community," she said, adding, "We'll still be able to give out vouchers to help people. That's not going to go away completely."
The Halversons are issuing a call for volunteers, asking them to contact Monica Moore, store manager, at 276-3301.