Organization seeks donations, staff prior to mid-September opening

BIG RAPIDS — Frugal shoppers will soon have another option in Big Rapids when the Salvation Army Family Store opens next month.

The store will occupy the building south of City Hall, which was most recently as Big Rapids Furniture. The Salvation Army has leased a good portion of the space, though a partition will be constructed in the coming weeks to separate the store from the remainder of the former furniture store, said Chris Vallette, Salvation Army development director.

“We realized there was a need for affordable clothing, household items and tools for families in the area,” Vallette said. “It’s also a way to bolster the funding needed to maintain and grow our programs. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the store will benefit community programs. All the donations will be used in our service area.”

The local Salvation Army office serves Mecosta, Osceola, Lake and Newaygo counties.

Vallette said the store is on schedule to open in mid-September, but there’s a long list of work to do before the doors will open. In addition to the partition that needs to be constructed, the donations on hand need to be sorted, processed and priced; more staff needs to be hired; and operational details, such as the store hours, need to be finalized.

More donations also are needed, Vallette said.

“Right now, it’s safe to say we’re at about one-third of our capacity for opening the store,” he said. “We’re putting out a call for donations. We can pick up donations or people can deliver them, but if they want to deliver them they should call our office to set up a time. We’re not at the store all the time.”

To stock the store, the Salvation Army is seeking donations of household and kitchen items, clothing, furniture, electronics, decor items, such as paintings, fixtures and more. To schedule a pickup or drop-off of donations, residents should call the office at (231) 796-5597. Donation pickups can be scheduled throughout the four counties the office serves.

“Essentially, we’ll take anything other than tube TVs and medical supplies,” Vallette said.

In addition to stocking the store, a few more employees are needed to fully staff it, he added. The Salvation Army is accepting applications for part-time workers. Anyone interested should call the office at (231) 796-5597. The office is located at 325 Linden St., Big Rapids.

“It’s going very well,” Vallette said. “We’re pleased with our building location, pleased with the number of donations that have come in without us putting out word we needed items and pleased with the staff we’ve already hired.

“It’s exciting to get things up and ready and know people can come in and buy things at an affordable cost.”