CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — Leaders with the Cherokee County Salvation Army said their thrift store is down thousands of dollars in sales and being forced to move into a temporary location.
It’s happening just weeks before the start of the holiday season.
“We know we serve a might God, who can move through people, and that’s what we’re praying for,” said Major Lisa Davis, with the Salvation Army.
The doors are locked and the lights are off at the Salvation Army Thrift Store off Robinson Street in Gaffney.
“We have lost close to $15,000 and that money is used in our general operating,” said Davis.
Major Davis said problems, with an odor inside the store, started a few weeks ago. She said it’s non-toxic and not flammable, but caused problems for employees.
“It’s an unpleasant chemical smell. After a couple of minutes being in the building, eyes [start] to water, and you get a horrible taste in your mouth, so it’s just unpleasant,” said Davis.
Davis said the smell forced them to shut the doors, while they work with experts to figure out what’s causing the smell.
“We just know it’s in the air, right now, possibly coming up underneath the ground. We don’t think it’s anything to do with our building itself, the structural part of the building,” said Davis.
Davis said several experts have come to check out the odor and she said DHEC was investigating.
A spokesperson for DHEC confirmed staff with the Underground Storage Tank (UST) program visited the area Friday. She said DHEC staff conducted a compliance inspection of UST system at a nearby gas station and found it was in compliance with regulations. This week, DHEC staff plan to conduct another compliance inspection at a different gas station near the Salvation Army. She said DHEC did not order the Salvation Army to close and said DHEC does not have the authority to regulate or sample indoor air quality at homes or businesses.
Still with the doors closed, there’s no money coming in from the store.
“We are in dire need of our community’s help with this because it has caused a huge hole in our cash flow,” said Davis.
Davis said sales at the store help supports programs like the soup kitchen and upcoming holiday efforts for local kids.
“We are right at the busy season of Christmas, with our angel tree, trying to get 403 angels filled,” said Davis.
Davis said they’re pushing forward. On Thursday, the thrift store moved into a temporary location, inside the Salvation Army’s gym.
“At some point, we’re going to need a temporary building, maybe even a permanent one,” said Davis.
Davis is hoping to find a better solution by reaching out to the community.
“If there’s anyone in the community that has a building that’s not used and that would allow the salvation army to occupy it rent free, that would be a incredible blessing to us,” said Davis.
She said people can also help the Salvation Army this holiday season, by volunteering and helping with the Christmas Kettles program.
She said they’re still working to investigate the cause of odor. When they pinpoint the issue, it could be weeks before the store is able to reopen.