The Renton Salvation Army Thrift Store is one of four stores in the Seattle area to close its doors effective September 10.
But the change is not permanent.
“The good news is that we are not leaving Renton,” said David Puszczewicz, director of retail operations. “We are actively seeks a larger space in Renton with a leasing agent. We need approximately 18-25,000 square feet in order to process our growing number of donations on the site itself.”
Local business owner, Mary Clymer, owner of is an avid thrift store shopper and said she was really sad to see it close — particularly in its downtown location.
"I am encouraged to hear that the thrift store will not leave Renton totally," she said, and was glad to hear that they are in search of another new Renton location.
The current space is too small, which makes processing the large volume of donations difficult, Puszczewicz said.
While tough economic times have contributed to the closure, the Thrift Store retail operations are using this as an opportunity to reinvent itself and improve on sales and marketing.
“We are looking for a larger format and want to create a new brand for a new era.” Puszczewicz said. “In retail, you need to move forward, or fall behind. We want to move forward. We have followed the status quo for quite some time.”
All future stores will be modeled after the Seattle flagship store, he said, adding that the Renton Salvation Army Thrift Store manager — who has run the Renton location for 25 of its 30 years — will relocate to the Seattle store.
During the next few months, The Salvation Army will review and make improvements to its business model.
“We need to make our business more efficient,” said Major Ralph Hood of The Salvation Army, in its press release. “Our goals include improving quality of product at our Seattle store, selecting well-positioned and productive donation sites, and pursing alternative sales opportunities.”
The Army points to the change in retail landscape for the decision to close the stores, citing declining business and a declining economy as reasons for the closures.
The Thrift Stores operate as a revenue source for the adult rehabilitation program, and when the stores are not making a profit, it hurts the program. One-hundred percent of the money raised at the retail operations go to the Adult Rehabilitation Center.
“We are sorry to see the Salvation Army’s thrift store in Downtown Renton close as part of regional efforts to close multiple underperforming stores," said Suzanne Dale Estey Director of Economic Development with the City of Renton.
Dale Estey said the City will continue to work with the Salvation Army on its service initiatives, in its search for a new location, and do what it can to support the organization during its transition.
"We believe this could open new opportunities in Downtown," Dale Estey said of the property, which is owned by the Salvation Army.
In addition to the Renton store, the Burien, Sumner and Puyallup locations are slated to close.
The store closures will affect 22 employees, who will be offered other opportunities regionally, nationally, or assisted with final salary and benefits.
The Thrift Store division of The Salvation Army is separate from the Corps and services programs, said Lora Marini Baker, director of community relations. said the Food Bank operations have little to do with the operations of the retail store.
The final week of operations in Renton will offer sales of 75% off of merchandise. The remaining items will be distributed to other stores.
For more information about the Salvation Army Thrift Stores, and to track progress of new store development, click here.