The future of the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Conception Bay South is in doubt following news made public Wednesday that the lease for its location of 15 years in the Villa Nova Plaza has been terminated.
MBM Development Inc. informed store management in February about the possibility of ending the lease agreement, according to Jason McIsaac, retail district manager for thrift stores in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Salvation Army had two years remaining on its lease.
The store will close May 28.
"We were assuming we were just fine in our location for another two years. There was nothing on the radar about this happening," McIsaac said.
MBM made use of a demolition clause to terminate the lease. Though it's called a demolition clause, the property is not being torn down, according to a spokeswoman for MBM Development Inc.
"We're doing a renovation," said Jackie Morgan, speaking with The Telegram from her cellphone. She could not be reached for further comment.
The Salvation Army said it was given formal notice in April, and though it has been searching for a new space since February, no suitable site has been found.
"There's not a whole lot of space available," said McIsaac.
That's bad news for the four employees of the C.B.S. location. Though his office is continuing to look for a new space, McIsaac said there is not enough time to find a new location and negotiate a lease to reopen the thrift store before the end of the month.
"We're really aggressively looking for a place," he said, adding its current employees, two of whom have worked at the C.B.S. store for more than 10 years, will be at the top of the list to get rehired.
McIsaac said he was aware holding on to the lease of the Villa Nova Plaza location may not have been possible in two years time.
"A lot of times, depending on the economy, the landlords like to renegotiate higher lease rates, and maybe it would have been out of our league at that point. If there was another potential suitor that was willing to pay a lot more, who knows what would have happened. We can't count on having it automatically renewed."
Lori Ann Stroud, who was in the thrift store on Wednesday, enjoys shopping there to find unique previously used goods.
"I like that I know it supports people in need, and it's a place I can bring my things when I need to clean out my closet," she said.
"I think a lot of people are going to miss it. I know many people depend on it to help their household function."
In particular, she likes to bring her children's toys to the store as they outgrow them, knowing there are other families who can make good use of the toys through the thrift store.
"It encourages them to give it away when they're not playing with a toy any longer. They know that they're helping somebody in the long run."
McIsaac adds the store is an essential resource for people living on a tight budget. He said the closure of the store will also take a bite out of revenue used by the Salvation Army for its ministry programs.
"The community has really supported that store, and the shoppers are going to miss it."
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