Donations are steady, but foot traffic at Chicago-area Salvation Army stores has dwindled under capacity restrictions and coronavirus fears, threatening the organization's pivotal rehabilitation programs that benefit from store sales.
In all, Chicagoland Salvation Army thrift stores are down $9 million dollars as a result of summer pandemic closures and capacity restrictions, said Major Kendall Mathews.
Eighty cents of every dollar spent at a Salvation Army thrift store goes to its rehab services, the major said.
“When somebody shops at our store, they’re investing in getting a man off of drugs and alcohol,” Mathews explained. “Going down to 25% capacity, that’s going to impact us because our foot traffic then decreases.”
The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Lincoln Park is usually one of the country’s busiest, but the first round of pandemic restrictions in Chicago closed locations from March to June.
Donation pickups were halted last week as coronavirus continued to rise.
“People’s lives could potentially be at stake here, because we don’t have the resources we need,” Mathews said.
Just like other businesses, Salvation Army thrift stores face strict safety guidelines like social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing inside.
This hasn’t prevented some employees from contracting the virus, which has caused staffing problems, Mathews added.
Still, he said the stores are safe and open for customers.
And this year, the organization's thrift stores across Chicagoland will hold a special Black Friday event.
Head to the organization's website to find the Salvation Army thrift store closest to you.