Salvation Army

The Salvation Army closed its last Rochester thrift store on Sept. 28, 2019, when the organization lost its sublease at 201 Ninth St. SE.

Juan and Melissa Castillo were looking for a bed for their son on Saturday as their daughters found a couple pairs of shoes to buy.

The St. Charles couple said they didn’t know Rochester’s remaining Salvation Army Thrift Store & Donation Center was closing.

“We just knew they had beds,” Juan Castillo said as his daughters looked at shoes.

They found a bed but will need to pick it up later since they didn’t have a way to haul it on Saturday.

The Castillos and others have until Sept. 28 to shop at the store. The Salvation Army announced Friday its sublease is being terminated in the complex it once shared with Kmart at 201 Ninth St. SE.

“The Salvation Army is very grateful to the patrons of this store and to those who have generously donated merchandise,” the organization stated in a written announcement of the closing, which is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Rebecca Snapp, the Salvation Army’s director of community engagement, said the organization is researching options for continuing store efforts and the Salvation Army remains committed to meeting local needs.

Melissa Castillo said she hopes the Salvation Army can find a new space. While she doesn’t shop at the store often, she said she knows many people rely on it.

“There are a lot of people that use it on a daily or weekly basis,” she said.

Store staff didn’t want to provide their names but said the announcement was “devastating.”

While other thrift stores exist in the community, the Salvation Army has a unique voucher program that allows families needing home goods and clothing to shop without cost.

One employee said the staff of 12 — some have worked at the store for decades— is “heartbroken,” knowing the community service is ending, at least temporarily

Until new plans are formed, the thrift store will no longer accept donations. It will continue to sell existing merchandise and honor store vouchers while open.

The store was busier than usual Saturday after Friday’s announcement that most of the remaining items will be sold at half price.

The store closure follows two others this summer.

The Thrift Store & Donation Center in Winona, which was supervised by the Rochester Salvation Army, closed June 29, and Rochester’s north store closed at the end of July.

When the first store closings were announced, Maj. Robert Mueller cited challenges related to the north Rochester location, pointing to limited traffic at the space in the rear of the Slumberland Center.

The south store, he said at the time, was a different case and traffic remained steady. At the same time, he cited some uncertainty following the building’s purchase.

Camegaran LLC of Hastings purchased the 121,844-square-foot complex in late January for a reported $7 million. The nearly 50-year-old building had been owned by Papa Rochester LP of Texas.

Prior to the sale, Kmart had already announced plans to close its doors in March, which left the Salvation Army as the sole occupant in the complex.

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