BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Budget woes and lack of sales performance are forcing the closure of the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center in Fort Madison.
According to Major Leanna Tuttle, the location at 927 1/2 Avenue G, in the Aldi’s building, wasn’t generating enough revenue to cover it’s operating budget forcing the closure of one of only two Salvation Army outlets in Lee County on Nov. 15.
The other store is located at 31 S. 30th Street in Keokuk and is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s due to budget cuts and not bringing in the funds it needs,” Tuttle said Wednesday morning.
“Hopefully that will be temporary. We’re looking at different options and some reorganization, but I can’t give you a timeline or anything like that.”
She said the budget woes aren’t just a regional thing, although the Keokuk location is struggling as well. Tuttle said other parts of the nation are experience similar issues and facing or executing closures.
“Keokuk is staying open at this time. But it’s pretty tight there and they have to get things turned around as well,” she said.
The store closure will not have any impact on the Salvation Army’s Weekend Meal program for K-5th grade students. Tuttle said that’s an entirely different budget and that program is well-funded and will continue.
Tuttle said finding another location for the store and donation center could possibly help to get the facility reopened, but she said the thrift stores are tough to manage because of utilities, changing economies, and even theft.
“Thrift stores are kind of hard when you have people stealing from us – and it happens at a lot of thrift stores. People think it was just donated to us anyway, so it’s free for the taking,” she said.
“It’s hard to make a thrift store run.”
The group also took a hit when Shopko closed because it was a place for the Red Kettle Campaign that volunteers could ring inside where it was warmer. Tuttle said it’s harder to get volunteers to ring outside. Last year bell ringers were at Shopko, Fort Madison Hy-Vee, and Fareway Meat & Grocery.
This year ringers will only be at the two grocery chains.
Tuttle said the money raised during the Kettle Drive doesn’t just help people during Christmas, but assists with expenses throughout the year.
“The more we raise during that campaign, the more good we can do throughout the year,” she said.
The group is also taking applications for toys for Christmas, but said they coordinate with Christmas for Kids in Fort Madison, so people don’t need to apply to both groups.