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May 29, 2020

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Salvation Army Thrift Store in Vancouver closing Jan. 18

Location will continue accepting donations until March 26

By , Columbian business reporter

Due to a lack of profit, the Salvation Army Thrift Store in east Vancouver will close its doors Saturday, according to a Monday news release.

The store, at 11808 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., will continue accepting donations until March 26. Employees who do not find positions at other Salvation Army locations will receive severance pay based on years of service. They will also get outplacement service to help find new jobs, according to the press release.

The decision was prompted by the store’s finances, Salvation Army Divisional Commander Major Nancy Dihle said in a statement.

“The purpose of our thrift stores is to provide funding for our Salvation Army services,” Dihle said. “If a store is not profitable, it doesn’t provide the money needed for services in the community. When a store loses money, it takes funding away from our services of meeting basic needs.”

The Salvation Army Community Center at 1500 N.E. 112th Ave. in Vancouver will remain open and continue to provide services to local families.

The Vancouver store is still relatively new; it opened in 2015 as a replacement for a previous Salvation Army thrift store in Hazel Dell. That iteration of the store opened in 2006 but had to move when the property’s owner, Fred Meyer, announced plans to build a gas station on the site.

Monday’s closure news comes about six months after the Salvation Army announced that it would remove donation trucks from Portland and Vancouver-area Fred Meyer stores as part of a restructuring of the thrift store model in order to lower costs. Two of the trucks had operated at Vancouver locations.

The Salvation Army also closed its Adult Rehabilitation Center in Northeast Portland in 2019. Proceeds from the Portland-area thrift stores used to go toward the rehabilitation center but were switched to support Salvation Army social service programs, instead.

Steve Rusk, the Salvation Army’s community relations and development director for Clark County, said the Vancouver thrift store isn’t the first one to close, and the closures are part of a pattern following the closure of the rehabilitation center.

“This is a trend of scaling back throughout the western territory,” he said.

However, he stressed that the scaling back only refers to the thrift store operations. The stores are managed separately from the rest of the Salvation Army’s local operations, including programs for teaching kids, support for residents struggling with poverty and other services. Most of those have been growing in recent years, he said.

In 2017, the Salvation Army assembled a new, larger building at its Washougal service site to supplement its existing operation. And last year, the organization completed work on a $5.7 million expansion of the 112th Avenue campus.

There are three other Salvation Army Thrift Stores in the Portland metro area, although none of them are in Clark County. The remaining stores are at 2990 N.E. Hogan Road in Gresham, Ore., 10174 S.E. 82nd St. in Happy Valley, Ore., and 11847 S.W. Pacific Highway, in Tigard, Ore.