Salvation Army closing downtown Victoria thrift store, operational costs to blame: organization

Salvation Army closing downtown Victoria thrift store, operational costs to blame: organization
File photo.

The decades-old Salvation Army Thrift Store in downtown Victoria is closing for good, and the organization says rising operational costs are to blame.

The store at 525 Johnson St., around for 40 years, will shutter its doors to the public on March 23, the Salvation Army tells CHEK News.

But the decision to close was a difficult one, says communications specialist Clara Pina.

“We will regrettably be closing our doors of our Victoria Thrift Store,” she said. “Following a thorough assessment of the current financial landscape and operational costs, it has become evident that sustaining our presence at this location would no longer be financially viable.”

The Salvation Army has a long-standing history in B.C.’s capital.

Its first food and shelter facility in Victoria, known as The Salvation Ark, opened on Cormorant Street in 1897, according to information online. But the need for its services grew, so in 1918 the organization moved to a bigger building on Johnson Street.

“The facility expanded further the following year and included a thrift store and light industrial operation, offering the opportunity of employment and income to the shelter’s residents,” reads the history page on

By 1980, the Johnson Street facility was torn down and redesigned. The new building opened in 1982 and was renamed ARC (Addications and Rehabilitations Centre), incorporating both the thrift store and a 147-bed shelter for men.

A shift to thrifting

The closure comes as thrift shopping is on the rise.

According to a recent PayPal report, nearly 73 per cent of the 2,000 respondents said they were purchasing pre-loved items more than ever before as the cost of living soars.

Last month, a Victoria-based financial planner told CHEK News she had noticed a new trend in her clients’ spending habits, adding that more people were thrifting.

“It’s definitely better for the environment. It’s better on the pocketbook,” said Tanya Sterling with Sterling Financial. “People are less embarrassed now to say no or to say that something’s more expensive than it needs to be.”

Although the downtown store is set to close, there are other Salvation Army thrift stores in the city, including at 990 Hillside Ave., 3934 Quadra St. and 1551 Cedar Hill Cross Rd. 

Pina says those who shop at these stores support local Salvation Army programs and services, such as food banks, school programs, camps and shelters.

“It is important to emphasize that The Salvation Army remains committed to helping individuals and families in need in the Greater Victoria community,” she said.

“The Thrift Store closure does not impact the services offered by The Salvation Army Victoria Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre (ARC), which will continue to operate in the same location, providing ongoing support to the local community.”

A sign on the Johnson Street store’s window reads, “We are closing. Thank you for your support.” It notes that donations will be accepted until March 31, a few days after the closure.

The Salvation Army “will be reevaluating the space previously occupied by the Thrift Store to explore opportunities to further assist the Greater Victoria community,” added Pina.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our employees and the Greater Victoria community for their support over the years,” she said.


Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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