Juneau’s Salvation Army thrift store, shown here on Feb. 12, 2021, has been glanced but not stopped by the pandemic, a Salvation Army officer said. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau’s Salvation Army thrift store, shown here on Feb. 12, 2021, has been glanced but not stopped by the pandemic, a Salvation Army officer said. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Secondhand stores hang tough amid pandemic

Demand hasn’t yet outrun the charity of Juneau residents.

While the need has increased, Juneau’s secondhand stores are staying abreast of demand as the pandemic approaches its one-year anniversary in Juneau.

The Salvation Army and the Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul, two of Juneau’s major broad-focus charitable organizations, have kept their stores running and even slightly profitable, despite tough times.

“We’ve cut our hours by 40% and increased our sales by 45%. I think people are trying to change their habits to reuse and recycle rather than throw stuff out,” said Dave Ringle, general manager for Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul. “I’d love to come to a time when the need can be handled by the generosity of the community rather than going to the city or the state.”

[Disaster declaration deadline looms]

Operation of the thrift store itself has changed somewhat, said Gina Halverson, Salvation Army officer, in a phone interview.

All donations are done contactless in a limited window, Halverson said. Donations are made in sealed boxes or bags, and volunteers receiving them take them directly from cars, never getting face to face with donors. All donations, which the Salvation Army asks that donors clean before handing off, are subjected to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended 72-hour cleaning cycle to prevent risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

“I think people’s inability to leave town to shop means they’re looking in different places. This allows us to offer clothing people can’t find elsewhere,” Ringle said. “The fact that our store sales are higher than they were allows us to keep our heads above water and keep people housed.”

Juneau’s Salvation Army thrift store, inside shown here on Feb. 12, 2021, has been glanced but not stopped by the pandemic, a Salvation Army officer said. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau’s Salvation Army thrift store, inside shown here on Feb. 12, 2021, has been glanced but not stopped by the pandemic, a Salvation Army officer said. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Food on tables

Another side of their charity is feeding those who are having trouble with food security, Halverson said. Demand and the requirements for meeting them have both expanded.

“We have people that need more. Our numbers have definitely gone up. We’re doing everything COVID-safe now,” Halverson said. “Before, people would come here to pick up food boxes. Now, we have a team that delivers the food boxes to their homes.”

While the demands are there, Ringle said, they’re able to stay ahead of the wolves through the charity of the community.

“It’s been consistent. We’re dealing with a group of people who are on the margin and that hasn’t changed, they’re on the margin,” Ringle said. “We’ve managed to have enough loaves and fishes to feed everyone that comes through our door.”

Working with larger organizations to make up donation stream shortfalls has allowed the Salvation Army to keep things moving, Halverson said.

“We work with (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and the (U.S. Department of Agriculture). There’s been a lot of food coming through there allowing us to stay on top of things,” Halverson said. “The community donations have not been as high as we’ve seen in the past.”

However, donations during the holidays, as the Southeast was wracked with torrential rainfall, were some of the highest his section heads had seen, Ringle said.

“I think people saw the need and really stepped up. When you’re in a tough situation, one of the best things that can happen is if you can do something,” Ringle said. “So many people have asked, what can they do, and they can donate.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Defeated candidates Kelly Tshibaka in the U.S. Senate race, left, Les Gara in the governor’s race, center, and Nick Begich in the U.S. House race are among the losers who could again be viable contenders and/or political figures leading up to the 2024 election, according to analysts. (Sources: Mark Thiessen / AP, Peter Segall / Juneau Empire, Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
What’s next for the election’s winners and losers?

Murkowski and Peltola may be key swing votes, Tshibaka the biggest “winner” of losers, analysts say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sugar Bear Alaskan Treasures, seen here, was one of many artist vendors featured at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Indigenous Holiday Market features local artists

Market’s first return since 2018.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 24

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov.20.

A member of the Juneau Gun Club helps participants with shooting clay targets, one of many events featured at the club’s annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Ready, aim, gobble: Juneau Gun Club hosts annual Turkey Shoot

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this article.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Nov. 23

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A cellphone screen displays spam text messages. During busy shopping season, scammers pretending to be other people, businesses or agencies frequently attempt to gain personal information via “spoofed” text messages, emails or phone calls. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘Criminals do not take the holidays off’

FBI shares tips to avoid being scammed during busy shopping season.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 19

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read