"My husband and I, we're in our fourth month here in Cartersville, and one of the things that has been so amazing to us is the outpouring of support from the community about us reopening a store," said Lt. Michelle Wilson with the local The Salvation Army. "The community has called, they've stopped by. They've stopped us on the side of the street just wanting us to know the value of the services that The Salvation Army Family Store provided here to the Bartow community. So we have been looking for ways [on] how we can reopen the store because we also realize the store provides opportunities for people who have limited means to be able to purchase items for their family at reasonable cost. It also generates resources for The Salvation Army to be able to provide additional programs and services to the community.
"So looking at all those things and trying to work a plan and develop a plan for how we could reopen, that's something that has been on the forefront of my husband and my agenda since we arrived here in January. And we're pleased to be able to announce that we are going to reopen the Cartersville Salvation Army Family Store, and we are looking at an early June reopening. We haven't set the exact date because we have some things that have to happen in the facility. But, as of Monday, we will be taking occupancy of our new facility, and it is located at 14 Felton Place. We are at 16 [Felton Place] for our regular offices and [the store's building is] just right across Eagle's Court from us on the corner where the old baseball school used to be."
For Wilson, the 9,800-square-foot facility that the nonprofit is leasing is in an ideal location. When it was operating on Apex Drive, the store saw a noticeable decline in the number of its frequent shoppers.
"We're returning right back here to the area where the community is used to shopping at The Salvation Army store, because for many years through the early '90s and up until just four years ago, the store was done here, out of our 16 Felton Place office," Wilson said. "So when that warehouse and storefront space came available at 14 Felton Place, it really just resonated with us, with all the things we had heard from the community about they didn't go over to the other location because it wasn't a part of town they went to or they didn't like the turn in.
"Whatever the myriad of reasons were, it just was not a good fit for a location for our Family Store. So when this location came available right here on Felton where the community has come many, many, many times throughout the years to support The Salvation Army Family Store, we just felt like that this would be a great place for us to reopen."
Proceeds from Family Store will assist the nonprofit's services, such as its character building programs, disaster relief efforts and social services offering. In 2011, the Cartersville office provided social services -- food and financial assistance with utility bills, medications and rent -- to 3,055 individuals. Many of the residents seeking assistance had been impacted by the downturn in the economy, either by losing their jobs or having their hours of employment reduced.
As the Family Store's opening approaches, Jane Nations is serving as its manager. Previously The Salvation Army's operations manager, Nations has seen firsthand the store's impact on the community, especially with its social services.
"I've always believed that the Family Store was an important part of The Salvation Army ministry," Nations said. "It serves a great number of people in the community and there's a great need for it. ... The store has always been a very important aspect to the operation of The Salvation Army and what we do in the community. It allows us to be here. With the income generated from the store, it helps increase the social services that we're offering to the community. It helps increase the youth programs that we're able to offer through our character building programs that we have with our youth.
"It [also] provides people an affordable place to go and purchase quality clothing. ... [We are] looking forward to just getting back in the business of having our store open and having people be able to come in and shop and looking forward to seeing all of our old customers again and all of our old donors. It's something that we've missed."
To help offset expenses related to the store's opening, the nonprofit is holding a Friends of the Army Family Store Campaign. During the month of May, the nonprofit is striving to raise $12,000, which will cover a variety of costs, such as updates to the building.
"We're trying to raise those funds to make the opening a reality," Wilson said. "We don't want the opening of the thrift store to take away from any program and services that we need to provide during the summer months. Financial times for The Salvation Army are typically lean during the summer months because we do the majority of our fundraising over the Christmas holidays. So we want to be good stewards of what we can do and we want to just give an opportunity for our community to come together and give.
"It doesn't matter how big or small the gifts are. We had somebody who came in just the other day that we talked to in the process and said, 'You know what, I don't have a lot to give, but here's my check for $10.' And that's what's going to make the difference is the whole community coming together and giving those gifts and helping us get together because we know that everyone in the community, whether you give or you shop, however The Salvation Army Family Store touches your life, we know everyone in the community is touched by the ministry of the Family Store."
To donate to the Friends of the Army Family Store Campaign, supporters need to call the nonprofit at 770-386-6256, visit www.salvationarmycartersville.org or mail a check to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 200305, Cartersville, GA 30120. The organization also will accept contributions of quality clothing, household items and furniture at the Family Store starting May 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.