PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Faced with rising operational costs and declining sales, employees at The Salvation Army’s Family Thrift Store picked up their last paychecks this week after the business closed its doors for good this past weekend.
The religious and charitable organization has operated the store at the Main Street location since 2011, after it moved there from its previous location on State Street. The store has offered gently used clothing, furniture and other goods to the community at bargain prices.
Maj. James LaBossiere, divisional commander for The Salvation Army in the Northern New England Division, said that the business has struggled over the past year with a decline in sales revenue. The decision to close was not an easy one, he said late last week, and it eventually had to be done.
“We, as Salvation Army leaders, are always mindful of our resources and the need to utilize them to help the most people in need,” he explained. “With the direction the Thrift Store was taking, there would have been a serious impact on our programs and services.”
Craig Evans, divisional development director for The Salvation Army, said Thursday that he was not exactly sure how many employees would be impacted by the closure but thought that there was only one full-time employee, the store manager. He said that no other stores in Maine are targeted for closure.
Jessica Wade of Presque Isle said Thursday that she took advantage of the going out of business sales that the thrift store had last week to get clothing for her three children. She said that while she knows there is another thrift shop in the city, The Cubby Thrift Store, which is also on Main Street, she has tended to shop at The Salvation Army store more often.
“My husband and I both work full time, but clothes are expensive nowadays, and when you have growing kids like we do, sometimes an outfit will only last six months or so before they grow out of it or it gets ripped or badly stained,” she said. “When you come in here and find brand name jeans for two dollars that are $30 in a retail store, that’s a big savings for a family.”
“I shopped there all the time,” Monica Lincoln of Presque Isle said. “They had a wide variety of items, and some of the clothing didn’t even look like it had been worn. It’s too bad to see that close down, because the Main Street store was so much brighter and bigger than the State Street store was. I thought that the fact that they moved to a more visible space might help them bring in more business, but I guess not.”
LaBossiere indicated that the decision to close was made collaboratively with local leadership in Houlton and its divisional headquarters in Portland.
The Salvation Army will continue to serve needy men, women and children in Presque Isle through its Service Unit program, a network of volunteers that assist people in areas where there is not a Salvation Army facility. The Salvation Army provides temporary and emergency assistance to families and individuals in need of food, clothing, fuel, utilities and more.