Thrift stores’ closures prompt confusion

By Josette Keelor

The unexpected closing of two thrift stores run by the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, Clarke last weekend has sparked confusion among some volunteers who have contributed their time to the nonprofit organization.

Addressing the thrift store closures, Sylvia Jackson, SPCA board of directors president, said the organization is undergoing a restructuring.

“We are in the process of hiring new people,” Jackson said. “There’s certainly been a lot of reorganization. Of course we’re hiring two new managers.”

The two managers will replace the manager who managed both stores and no longer works there, Jackson said.

The thrift stores, at 2225 Valley Ave., Winchester, and 181 B. Warrior Drive, Stephens City, were closed temporarily — the Winchester store reopened Thursday and the Stephens City store will reopen on Monday. Selling gently used donated items ranging from clothing to furniture, the stores raise funds for the SPCA’s animal shelter and city pound at 115 Featherbed Lane, Winchester.

The situation prompted some volunteers, who asked to remain anonymous, to question
decisions being made by the board of directors.

The list of issues, one longtime volunteer said, includes lack of communication. Another said the stores have been short-handed since August, and after some employees and volunteers had left, other volunteers filled in for missing employees.

“[Board members] now have a new vision, but they’re not sharing it,” a volunteer said in a recent phone interview. She said employees and volunteers ought to have greater access to the local SPCA’s financial records and intentions for using community donations and tax dollars, like the annual $115K the City of Winchester pays to provide the town with a shelter.

“Our federal government does better with transparency than our local animal shelter,” she said.

As an example, she referenced a vacant building adjacent to the SPCA shelter in Winchester.

“It’s a huge empty building,” the volunteer said. “Two or three years later, there’s no movement toward [opening a proposed animal training center.] There’s no fundraising capital for that.”

Jackson said the board plans to open an adoption and education center in that location in January.

“It’s going to be a wonderful facility for education and groups,” she said. “We’re going to have a grand opening.”

Previously owned by Impressions Plus, which closed in February 2013, the building will be renovated by H&W Construction Company Inc. in Winchester and eventually house animals successfully treated at the shelter and vetted for adoption, Jackson said.

She said the SPCA will fund the facility using money from fundraising efforts like its second annual cash party on Nov. 15 at the Elks Lodge at 466 Front Royal Pike, Winchester. She also said she hopes to receive gifts from community donors and said the organization might hold a capital campaign to fund remaining costs.

“We’re quite excited about it,” Jackson said.

Contact the SPCA at 540-662-8616.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com>