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Salvation Army Thrift store celebrates one year under new manager and major changes

Anna MacDonald, manager of the Salvation Army Thrift Store, tidies up a display of china teacups and plates. To celebrate the year of changes, MacDonald has planned a customer appreciation week from May 14 to 19.
Anna MacDonald, manager of the Salvation Army Thrift Store, tidies up a display of china teacups and plates. To celebrate the year of changes, MacDonald has planned a customer appreciation week from May 14 to 19. - Millicent McKay

Customer Appreciation Week is set for May 14 to 19

SUMMERSIDE – It’s been a year of changes at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Summerside.

It all began when Anna MacDonald, the manager, took over in 2017.

“It’s been a year of updating, modernizing and making it a better place for all customers.”

Since taking over, she has worked to rejuvenate the store’s interior, establish mandates and guidelines that help determine items that get onto the floor and their price, and reduce waste produced from the store.

“We’ve saved over 100,000 pounds of goods that would otherwise end up in our landfills. Every few weeks we fill a shipping container with items that don’t sell or move, and they are sent to the mainland and then are disbursed to other Salvation Army store locations around the country and world. We’re also very strict about what ends up out on the floor.”

It’s all about supplying high quality items for low prices.

“It’s become a store that is like no other. It’s a treasure hunt every time you come in.”

MacDonald has also spent the year trying to change the reputation of the store, from a “poor people’s store” to a “department store for people of all classes.”

“I remember someone came up to me asking if they were allowed to shop here. She told me her mom always taught her that she shouldn’t shop here because she would be taking away from someone who really needs it,” explained MacDonald.

“But that isn’t the case. There is such a broad spectrum of items for everyone. And in addition to making money because people donate items, we also make money by people buying items.”

In the past year, MacDonald has introduced higher-end items.

“We’ve done everything we can to ensure necessities are available to all people. Most of the clothes range from $1 to $6. Then we have items that are brand new with the tags still on them, so they are priced a bit higher.”

Then there are other items that are not necessities, like fine china mugs or crystal vases.

“It is the ‘want’ items that help us succeed at our second mandate, which is to raise funds for the Summerside Salvation Army Corps and the programs they run.”

Other mandates for the store include keeping products out of Island landfills, having a Christ presence in the community and with staff members, and providing quality goods at low prices.

“The increase in price for some items is probably the biggest shock people have had to get over. But we had to do it, or else we wouldn’t be fulfilling our mandates and we wouldn’t be doing a service to anyone.”

To celebrate the stores progress she has planned a customer appreciation week from May 14 to 19 with the Cavendish Fry Truck setting up on May 14.  There will also be sales, coffee and cake every day.

MacDonald’s changes and upgrades are not over yet.

“There is still more to come… but it’s so encouraging and fun to work in a place that has promise and potential. And that’s what I want these changes to show. This store isn’t a glorified junk yard anymore.”

millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

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