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Niles Salvation Army Family Store re-opening canceled

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT The Niles Salvation Army Family Store in Niles Township will not reopen as originally planned. The building is for sale.

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
The Niles Salvation Army Family Store in Niles Township will not reopen as originally planned. The building is for sale.

Unanticipated construction costs are to blame for a decision to cancel the re-opening of a Salvation Army Family Store in Niles Township.

The store, located at 2911 S. 11th St., was originally scheduled to reopen this winter.

“The cost was going to be too high,” said Capt. Jason Shaw, administrator the Salvation Army’s family stores in Michiana. “We are committed to being back in Niles, but it just won’t be at that particular site.”

Shaw said his department is working with a realtor to find another location in Niles in which to open a family store, likely closer to the retail corridor near WalMart and Lowe’s on South 11th Street.

“We’d certainly like to be in a retail-oriented area,” he said. “We won’t have a timeline until we have identified a property.”

The current building is for sale. Jim Ringler, the listing agent for the property, said it went on the market Dec. 22.

Shaw announced in late October that the army intended to re-open the Niles Township family store, which had been closed since 2008.

Workers repainted the exterior of the building and a hiring event was held in November. At that time, Shaw said they expected to employ approximately 20 people.

Shaw said he knew of some of the unanticipated cost issues associated with renovating the building prior to the job fair, but went ahead with the hiring event anyway.

“We proceeded with the job fair, but didn’t make any guarantees of any positions to anyone,” he said, adding that applicants were made aware that the project had been delayed.

Niles resident Ruth Rodriguez said she attended the job fair and was offered a job as a clerk at the family store as soon as it opened. She said she is disappointed that no one informed her that the store opening was canceled. She said she only learned that it wouldn’t reopen after contacting the Niles Salvation Army Food Pantry — a separate entity from the family stores division.

“I was upset because I was really looking forward to going back,” said Rodriguez, who worked at the family store before it closed in 2008.

Shaw said he and other family store representatives were disappointed upon learning construction costs would prohibit them from moving forward with the project.

However, Shaw said it is only a matter of time before a family store opens in Niles.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” he said. “We really want to have a store in Niles.”

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