America's Thrift Store moving

America's Thrift Store moving

June 23rd, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region


America's Thrift Stores Inc. is based in Birmingham, Ala., and has outlets in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Chattanooga store helps support Teen Challenge.

Few retailers gain when the economy softens, but America's Thrift Store in Chattanooga says its business is up.

"When the economy slows down, it's a positive force," said Chris Jones, the store's manager. "People look to save a little here or there."

But amid the choppy economic recovery, America's Thrift Store is moving across the Tennessee River to Hixson, giving up its longtime location on Lee Highway.

Around the first of August, the store will open in space formerly occupied by Target near Northgate Mall.

Jones said that for the past eight years the thrift store had been subleasing its Lee Highway space from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which in turn was leasing from an owner of the center.

He said America's Thrift Store wanted to stay on Lee Highway, but the owner has other plans.

"It just didn't work for us," Jones said.

But he said he's optimistic about the new site, which is being renovated to hold the business.

Tom DuPre of Results Realty said the area around America's Thrift Store's new location will have a lot more foot traffic than its existing facility.

"In the current location, they're by themselves," said DuPre, who has been working to lease the former Target.

DuPre said all but about 1,000 square feet of the 100,000-square-foot former store now is leased.

"We've brought it back to life," he said.

Jones said America's Thrift Store, which has 65 employees who are expected to stay with the move, will have about the same sales area of more than 20,000 square feet. But total space for the store is less, he said.

"We won't have a large furniture showroom. It will be on a condensed scale," said Jones, who declined to provide sales figures for the store.

The location will have new flooring, racks, shelving and a point of sale system in which items will be bar-coded, he said.

"It will be an upgrade," Jones said.

David DeVaney of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp. said a pair of Atlanta groups own different parts of the Lee Highway shopping center. He said the group he represents is looking to sell or lease its portion, which does not include the thrift store.