An unexpected army of shoppers stood in the rain waiting for Thorncliffe Park’s new Salvation Army Thrift Store to open its doors.
Staff greeted guests with applause as the doors opened at 9 a.m. on Jan. 26. Shoppers near the front of the line had started waiting as early as midnight to be first inside.
Within 15 minutes the store ran out of the 200 reusable bags that were set aside as giveaways.
Shoppers like Lisa Dymond, who frequently visited the Goodwill that earlier occupied the site, said they want to see the Salvation Army learn from the previous tenants.
“I hope it’s more effectively managed, so that it continues to provide jobs for the community,” Dymond said.
This location marks the 109th Salvation Army store in Canada, according to national retail operations manager Michele Walker.
The Salvation Army usually holds a soft opening with a later grand opening for its stores, Walker said. But since there was such an urgent need in the community, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled immediately.
Carol Wiens, 71, travelled from Vancouver to attend the grand opening. She lived in Thorncliffe Park in her mid-20s and was excited to return to her old neighbourhood to show support.
Her first apartment was in the Leaside Towers, down the street from the Salvation Army’s new store.
Wiens’ daughter informed her over Christmas that the Salvation Army, where she shops nearly everyday, was opening a new location in her old neighbourhood. Her son-in-law then created a “mock letter” inviting her to the event, she said.
Councillor Jon Burnside praised the Salvation Army for addressing some of the challenges Thorncliffe Park faces and hiring members of the community.
“People waiting since midnight or coming at 7 a.m. reinforces what we’ve all been saying,” Burnside said, adding that the area needs services like the Salvation Army.