Story last updated at 2:52 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2002

Salvation Army opens new Thrift Store
By R.J. Kelly
Managing Editor

photo: business
  Photo by R. J. Kelly, Homer News
Thrift Store employee Pam Steiner, left, and manager Linda Wakefield staff the spacious showroom on Pioneer Avenue, near the corner of Svedlund Street in Homer.  
After 13 years in increasingly crowded, rented quarters, the Salvation Army Thrift Store is welcoming customers and contributors at its just completed building on Pioneer Avenue.

With 5,250 square feet of space, the airy new Homer store is more than double the size of the former Thrift Store building the Salvation Army rented for many years across the street from Erickson Properties.

Sorting items in the 2,000 square foot storage area separate from the main display floor last week, store manager Linda Wakefield was gushing with pleasure over the new facility. "The other store would fit just in here," she said of the storage area.

A series of discounted sales in March thinned out much of the clothing and other items in the old store, said Capt. Erik Hoogstad, the local Salvation Army director.

After several days of carrying, carting and trucking supplies and sale items, much of it newly donated, the new store opened April 2. "Right now, we're fine-tuning everything," Hoogstad said.

As Wakefield and Pam Steiner, the store's two staff workers, were busy last week setting up new systems to run the new shop efficiently and train volunteer and part-time workers.

With sun-filled windows fronting the street and wide aisles, the new shop is a far cry from the cramped space and overflowing shelves of the old building.

"People won't trip over each other in the aisle," Wakefield said with a wide grin. "It's lovely."

With many elderly shoppers frequenting the store from the nearby Senior Citizens Center, the new location means they won't need to cross Pioneer Avenue anymore.

There's even a big rustic wooden rocking chair at the back of the store for seniors to rest a bit while shopping. The chair was donated by Joan Kessler, a longtime store staff member who recently moved California to manage a Senior Apartment House run by the Salvation Army in Redondo Beach, Wakefield said.

Financing the new $450,000 thrift store building was helped by a $250,000 grant from Salvation Army regional headquarters in Long Beach, Calif. Homer contractor Ray Steiner of North Star Construction directed the five-month building project.

A formal celebration and dedication is planned for May 29 to honor a host of volunteers and donors who helped with the project, Hoogstad said.

The Thrift Store is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:25 p.m.