Sounds of a construction site fill the air – sawing, buzzing, drilling, scraping, hammering, whirring. Occasionally, someone calls out; it’s the only way to be heard.
Most of the noise is coming from the back of the building, where wooden partitions are going up, creating change rooms. Elsewhere, a group of ladies is sorting through material.
Major Ed Dean, from the Maple Creek branch of The Salvation Army, is forced to raise his voice.
“Today it looks like chaos,” he says. “Come back in two weeks and hopefully it will look like a store.”
Major Ed is standing in the middle of the floor of the Salvation Army’s new Thrift Store, the former Shop Easy premises in Jasper Street.
It is Friday, December 10, and the countdown is on to the soft opening of the store on Tuesday, January 4.
A grand opening will be held at a date to be announced.
Since The Salvation Army signed a lease, the building has been abuzz with daily activity.
Much of the work is being done by volunteers like Denise Needham, Craig Crozier and Colin Pierce, who were building the change rooms last week. Emphasis is being placed on accessibility, to ensure people with mobility issues have no problems getting around the store.
Professionals are hired for more specialized tasks, such as plumbing and electrical work.
“We’ve had a wonderful team of volunteers working very industriously at getting the new store ready,” says Major Ed.
“Painting has been done. Temporary partitions have been put up, change rooms are getting into shape, and there is a sorting crew on hand.
“There have been many things happening. A cleaning crew will likely start tomorrow or at the beginning of the week, getting floors ready. We’ve got to scrub, we’ve got to wax, and that all takes time. There is also sweeping to do, as well as moving things.
“All the time there is something to do. It will be like that until the last moment when we will open.”
Major Ed remains hopeful that the store will open next month, even though Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest periods for The Salvation Army. A lot depends, he says, on getting the phone system in place, as well as POS (point-of-sale) terminals for cash transactions.
Are there enough volunteers?
“We are always looking for volunteers,” says Major Ed. “January 4 is not that far down the line, and we have lots to do, lots to move.”
As the clock ticks, The Salvation Army has to balance getting the new Thrift Store ready with leaving its old premises in Pacific Avenue; those two buildings will close at 2pm on December 24.
As customers will probably be aware, a 50 per cent off clearance sale is under way.
“We are really excited about our new location,” says Major Ed. “People in the community are also getting excited.
“Every time the door is open, somebody walks through to see what is going on. ‘Oh, this is exciting’ they say. ‘What’s going on? That’s good news’. And it is good news that we are building into new long-term space. “Hopefully, those people who were used to shopping at our old location will visit us over here. There is even free parking. We have a parking lot: they can come in, park and shop.”
Major Charlotte Dean said the new Thrift Store location offered many benefits.
“For us it is amazing to have everything under one roof,” she said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s really, really special. An answer to a prayer.”