Hot dogs, hamburgers, prizes mark opening

By Tammy Keith Originally Published February 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 27, 2013 at 12:07 p.m.
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Tammy Keith

Lt. Jamie Clay, corps officer for The Salvation Army in Conway, shows the boutique area in The Salvation Army Family Store’s new larger location at 2125 Harkrider St., Suite 10, in the North Plaza shopping center. A grand opening with hourly giveaways will begin at 10 a.m. Friday.

The new location of The Salvation Army Family Store in Conway, which opens Friday, will offer “a better shopping experience” for customers, said Lt. Jamie Clay, corps officer.

“We’re really going to up our game,” she said.

The Family Store will move from downtown Conway to 2125 Harkrider St., Suite 10, in the North Plaza shopping center.

The store’s grand opening will begin at 10 a.m. Friday with hourly prizes given away, along with free hot dogs and hamburgers to the first 300 people.

Clay, who serves with her husband, Lt. Russell Clay, said the new location is an improvement, inside and out.

“The first thing is more accessible parking and more parking spaces,” Clay said.

Customers who shopped at The Salvation Army previously will notice major changes inside, she said.

Clay said the new location is about 10,000 square feet, compared with about 8,200 square feet at the former location.

“We have more floor space on the show floor; there is also better lighting,” Clay said. “[They] won’t feel like they’re shopping in a thrift store.”

Employees will be taught how to make minor repairs before furniture is put out for sale, she said.

“I’m going to display it like it’s a room,” Clay said. “Although it may not match, people like eclectic. They can say, ‘Wow, I could get that whole room for $100 — that chair, that couch, that lamp.’”

One area of the store is devoted to what Clay calls “the antique section.”

Clay said she’s happy about the acquisition of four mannequins, two male and two female.

“I was so excited. I put them up on a stage in the front window, and they’re already dressed,” she said.

The old mannequins were falling apart, she said, and didn’t have arms.

She also bought two “vintage-style” metal mannequins, one of which will be used in the boutique area.

Separated by a large piece of neutral-colored carpet, “until I can find

something more girlie,” she said, the boutique will feature better or vintage clothing, shoes and accessories, and unique pieces.

“Our clothing, we’re sectioning it a little better where we have business apparel versus casual wear and formal wear,” she said.

A large area is devoted to shoes, and Clay said she hopes someone will donate a bench for customers use to try on shoes.

A book area includes a folding screen with a book motif and an upholstered chair. Dressing rooms are nearby.

New store manager Holly Hernandez was taking a lunch break while getting things cleaned and organized at the new location this week.

“This is so much nicer. It’s prettier; it’s cleaner; it’s classier,” she said. “We got a fresh start here.”

Family store proceeds provide the majority of the funding for The Salvation Army’s programs, such as sending kids to camp; Project Angel Tree, which provides toys and clothing for children at Christmas; food baskets and gifts for shut-ins during the holidays; and the year-round food pantry. The Salvation Army also provides utility assistance and disaster relief.

The Salvation Army Conway Corps covers Faulkner, Perry, Cleburne and Van Buren counties.

A more pleasant shopping experience should increase sales, Clay said, thereby increasing the number of people The Salvation Army can serve.

She said the better store environment may also attract more volunteers, which are needed.

“Increasing the volunteer base — that’s a huge thing,” Clay said.

“I have good volunteers. I could not have done this if not for them — volunteers and board members,” she said.

There aren’t any immediate plans to add employees for the store, she said, but it’s a possibility, depending on how successful the store is.

In addition to the family store’s new location, the administrative offices and social services will move from the current location on Carson Cove, off Prince Street, to the 2,000-square-foot suite connected to the family store. The food pantry will be at the North Plaza location as well.

The space is being remodeled, and the offices are scheduled to open March 15.

For more information, call The Salvation Army Conway Corps office at (501) 329-1712. To schedule pickup of donated furniture, call the store at (501) 329-3158.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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