WEBER CITY - It may not be as big as the Kingsport stores, but Salvation Army staff members are hoping residents in Weber City will like their new location across from the Holston View Cemetery.
Salvation Army Capt. Brian West oversees army operations in Scott, Lee and Wise counties in Virginia and part of Sullivan County in Tennessee.
Although the Kingsport office serves residents as far north as Wise County, the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Weber City is the first to open in the Southwest Virginia area.
"We knew that this would be a good clientele for this area," West said. "We have a lot of people in this area coming to Kingsport with clothing vouchers. People were already coming to us. We just wanted to come closer to them."
Clothing vouchers entitle the holder to free clothes from thrift store racks. The vouchers go to those who are in immediate and desperate need of clothing. The Salvation Army also helps those who are behind on rent and face eviction. West said they help people keep their utilities on if they are behind on bills and help the victims of fire refurnish their homes.
"A family service caseworker will meet with people, and those vouchers are left at stores for those who have extreme needs," he said. "It is helpful for those who have been burned out of their home. People on a fixed income who are under rough circumstances would also be eligible for help."
The thrift stores, two in Kingsport and now one in Weber City, also help those who just need low-cost clothing and furnishings, West said.
A grand opening was held Thursday for the Weber City store, which did $1,200 worth of business with no advertising and only a temporary sign letting people know the store was open.
West said the store is open for a three-month trial to see if there is enough business in the plaza to warrant having a thrift store there.
In order to pay the lease and the store staff, the store has to make about $16,000 a month, West said.
"If the store does well, we'll be here for years to come," he said.
Of the 3,000-square-foot store, about 70 percent is filled with clothing racks. The rest is bric-a-brac and furniture, he said.
West said Friday that he had been talking with a woman who counts on the thrift store for clothing for her children.
"Our slogan is â€˜Doing the Most Good,'" he said. "We try to live by that."
West emphasized that all the clothing, furniture and what West calls "bric-a-brac" is given to the Salvation Army.
"We don't buy anything. Everything is donated," he said. "There are very generous people who give things."
A lot of items are given to the thrift stores by family members after a loved one's death, he said.
Donations to the stores are tax deductible. Salvation Army staff can give donors a receipt to claim the value of the donations on their income tax.
West said staff will come to homes and businesses in Kingsport to pick up donations.
"We do a free pickup service for anyone in Kingsport and Weber City," he said.
For more information about the stores or donation pickup call 390-4269 or 247-8154.