The dollars you spend at The Salvation Army’s thrift stores and rehab center may help someone kick a drug or alcohol habit.

Salvation Army has new commander over thrift store and rehab center

The dollars you spend at The Salvation Army’s thrift stores and rehab center may help someone kick a drug or alcohol habit.

“That is why we do the thrift,” said Major Michael Morton, who recently took over as administrator of The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Richmond.

“The center that this store is supporting has approximately 100 beds. The thrift stores provide the operations income for this program,” Morton said, speaking at a new Salvation Army thrift store scheduled to open in early August on West Broad Street in Henrico County.

Morton and his wife, Salvation Army Major Nettie Morton, transferred to Richmond from a Salvation Army in Weirton, W.Va., five weeks ago, replacing the previous administrator who retired. Morton has managed Salvation Army thrift stores for 22 years, but overseeing the rehabilitation center is something new for him.

The residential rehabilitation center at 2601 Hermitage Road enrolls men recovering from substance abuse into a six-month work-therapy program. Many come as referrals from prison and are mandated to be in a recovery program as a condition of release.

Revenue from the Salvation Army’s three thrift stores fund the approximately $2.4 million budget to operate the rehabilitation center and thrift stores. All the merchandise in the stores is donated.

The West Broad Street store replaces the thrift store on Mechanicsville Turnpike that closed earlier this year. The organization’s other stores are at 11000 Midlothian Turnpike and on Hermitage Road adjacent to the rehabilitation center.

The new thrift store is in a building that once housed a Pier 1 Imports store and a kitchen design store. That Salvation Army store will initially occupy about 11,000 square feet of space and will expand to an adjacent 4,000 square feet of space in coming months. James Ashby of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer represented the landlord in the lease negotiations.

The Midlothian Turnpike thrift store is about 15,000 square feet, the Hermitage Road store about 9,000 square feet.

Morton said the Broad Street location puts them in a busy retail area, with Goodwill and other thrift stores nearby.

“You can say Goodwill is our competition, but the reality is thrift store shoppers are not loyal. Positioning us near Goodwill is a good move because shoppers will go to both stores,” Morton said.

Just weeks in, Morton has begun making changes in the rehab program and the warehouse that supplies the thrift stores.

“We were being a little too restrictive in our admission policies,” with less than half the center’s beds filled, he said.

“In four weeks, we’ve added 25 folks. Mostly we started allowing walk-ins. We weren’t allowing walk-ins before. The fact is there are folks out there who haven’t broken the law, who haven’t gone to prison, that would like some help. We have the help,” Morton said.

The three thrift stores and the rehabilitation center have about 30 paid employees, Morton said. That number doesn’t include the program participants who work in the warehouse and center.

“We have folks who have all kinds of skill sets because there are all kinds of folks who have problems with drugs or alcohol, or who had problems,” Morton said.