Bradenton's struggling Salvation Army Family Store to close Saturday

Leaders hope to open another store in Bradenton

cschelle@bradenton.comApril 19, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Salvation Army Family Store in Bradenton will close Saturday after running out of time to relocate.

The nonprofit organization decided the struggling store at 2415 14th St. W. would close at the end of April if the agency couldn't find a new location.

The store could reopen at another spot in Bradenton.

"I'm sad to see it go," said Kelln Ekkens, store supervisor. "I put effort in there to do the best that we could. Maybe we'll be back in Bradenton at a better location."

The thrift store will open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday, and is offering 75 percent off on all merchandise.

The Family Store's sales fund programs for the Adult Rehabilitation Center in St. Petersburg designed to provide lodging, food, recreation and counseling for men to better their lives. The programs survive solely on donations and sales from the Family Store, Ekkens said.

Thirty-three percent of Adult Rehab Center residents are from Manatee and Sarasota counties, said Capt. Liz Wilson of the Adult Rehab Center.

"No services are going to be affected in Bradenton with the closure of that store," Wilson said. "The only thing Bradenton is losing is that store."

The Salvation Army is looking for another location in Bradenton, Wilson said.

In the past few months, the store held big sales, mailed flyers to homes and put on other promotions to increase sales and foot traffic, but it just wasn't enough, Wilson said.

Competition from Goodwill was not a factor, she said.

The Salvation Army decided the store would be shuttered if it didn't have another location by the end of April.

"It has struggled for many years and probably should have been a decision a long time ago," Wilson said.

"It got to a point where we had to be the ones that made the decision."

The store will lay off its four remaining employees. Before deciding to close, the store employed seven people.

"When we have to tell someone we don't have a job for you, it just breaks our hearts," Wilson said.

"We have a list of those employees, and when we get ready to open something down there we'll say, 'Hey, are you looking for work?'"

The Sarasota Family Store remains open at 2280 17th St.

"We would love another location that would be a destination store where people would be so excited about it, they would just come to shop here," Wilson said.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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