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Eads Salvation Army Volunteers; Charlotte Gunning, Koy Glover, Dennis Pearson, Raelynn Riley, and Barb McCoin.
Raina Lucero

Eads Salvation Army Has Outgrown its Space

By Raina Lucero

September 1, 2022

Opening more than 25-years ago, the Eads Salvation Army thrift store began as what Kiowa County Department of Social Services (KCDSS) Director Dennis Pearson says was “The brainchild of Charlotte Phillips, who believed passionately we could make it work in Eads.” Pearson went on to say, “When we first approached the Denver office with the idea, they basically dismissed it—telling us we would never make it last. Charlotte refused to accept that and here we are 25+ years later and the store is going strong.”

One of the driving forces behind the establishment of a local Salvation Army Service Unit was that prior to its existence when people were in need and had no other means to address that need, they turned to KCDSS. There they were able to assist individuals in need only on a small scale as according to Pearson, KCDSS only had a $1000 per year budget for such services. Because of the establishment of the local Salvation Army in Eads, families in our community and others have been given assistance in the form of donated clothes, home goods and other items in their times of great need, whether it be a fire that destroyed their home or hard financial times.

According to the Department of Labor and Statistics’ consumer price index, apparel prices have rose 5.2% year over year and the inflation gauge which includes items such as food and gas rose to 9.1% from just one year ago. Thrift stores such as the Eads Salvation Army can help to elevate the financial strain these numbers put on families.

Thrift stores can be a valuable staple in all communities as they can bring new life to empty buildings, help people recycle goods they no longer use, provide shoppers with inexpensive clothing and other items, and with volunteer labor can help raise money for community assistance programs.

In addition to finding great deals and reducing landfill waste you can help the community by supporting the local Salvation Army Service Unit which helps people in times of great need. Due to the low prices, the local Salvation Army provides items for people of all incomes. They help people with low incomes afford quality items that would be priced higher at other stores. These items include clothing, furniture, small appliances, toys, books, home décor, and more.

In an interview with Salvation Army Manager and Co-Manager Raelynn Riley and Koy Glover, they informed the Independent, all money that is made from the sale of any goods at the local Salvation Army stays in Kiowa County. It is this money as well as money that comes from the Salvation Army Organization which helps individuals with emergency relief in paying for their medication, rent, utilities, and more.

Currently the local store finds itself at an impasse, while donations are always welcome, the house that has been so generously offered rent free by Kiowa County is no longer large enough to hold the clothing and other goods that have been collected. The three-bedroom house is busting at the seams with donated goods waiting for their new home. To combat this issue, the store was donated a storage container from the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office to store items that can be pulled out later, but that too, after only a few months is nearly at its capacity for storage.

Manager Raelynn Riley stated that, “A few times per month donated items that have not sold over a period of time or items that come in that are not typical of the target consumers will be taken to other stores in surrounding communities and even auctions to get rid of the excess.” Currently the store is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. however the volunteers are hopefully that if they were to gain more volunteers and potentially a new location for the store, they would be able to increase the hours to accommodate more people.

Pearson states “The store generates annual revenue of between $3,500-$4,000 per year, which is not a great amount, but when we are open only approximately 16 hours per month it is actually pretty strong.” Because of the low revenue it would be nearly impossible for the local Salvation Army to find a new home due to paying rent and even possibly insurance and taxes on another property.

The volunteers who organize, sort, clean, and open the store each week have taken pride in helping those who come to utilize the low prices and look for unique treasures. Each Saturday this summer the front lawn has looked like a yard sale with larger items set out for sale to make room inside for people to move about while shopping.

For those who have extra items laying around and thinking about donating, the volunteers are just fine with items being left on the front porch but a quick phone call to any of the volunteers to let them know there are items there would be helpful for them to keep them out of the weather or safe from theft. Co-Manager Koy Glover reiterated that just because there is something on the porch at the house does not mean that it is free, the items that are donated are done so with the intent that they will be sold, and the proceeds will go to the community.

Saturday September 3, there will be another bag sale; grocery size bags may be filled with as much clothing as will hold for $2 per bag.

If you have not found yourself in a last-minute predicament where you need a pair of baseball cleats, then you may not understand just the type of generosity that the local Salvation Army is capable of. Manager Riley tells us that any child who needs baseball cleats is allowed to pick through what they have available and take a pair home free of charge. With this being said, if you have extra items laying around, donating them can mean more than just cleaning out a closet or two for you but can be a life changing moment in a child’s life.

The Salvation Army Organization also helps coordinate and provides financial support for our annual Christmas toy and food basket drive as well as donates school supplies for those in need when preparing to send their children back to school.

If you wish to donate, volunteer, or if you have any leads on potential locations for a larger space to run the store, please contact any volunteer. If you find yourself in need of an item and you need it before Saturday when the store is open the volunteers will do all they can to accommodate, and someone will open the store for you as soon as someone is available.

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