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New London Salvation Army thrift store poised to reopen in spring

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New London — After a three-year hiatus from the downtown, the Salvation Army Family Store at 166/170 Bank St. is poised for a reopening.

The thrift store had been a popular destination for more than four decades before it closed with four others across the state in 2016 as part of cost cutting move. The New London building, owned by the Salvation Army, had been for sale but recently was pulled off the market.

Bob Moorthie, the business administrator for the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Hartford, said the New London location is one of several stores, “God willing,” he would like to see reopened in the near future. He said the goal is to open in early spring.

A seventh thrift store opened in West Hartford in the spring. Moorthie said the Salvation Army is exploring the idea of opening another store somewhere around the Norwich area and looking for a location for something akin to a distribution center. He said one of the larger expenses of the operation is driving across the state collecting donations — an area that spans from Bridgeport to Dayville.

The Salvation Army is a nonprofit organization and did not pay taxes when the New London thrift shop was in operation. Public records show the Salvation Army was billed more than $17,500 in property taxes for each of the last three years. It is up to date on its taxes.

Moorthie, who has spent 26 years in a variety of positions with the Salvation Army in the U.S. and Canada and started in Hartford last year, said he can’t speak of the decision to close the New London store but knows it was operating at a deficit.

“But that doesn’t matter,” Moorthie said. “The important thing is we have to provide affordable clothing to people in need. It is not about the money. Clothing is important for people who are living on limited income.”

Proceeds from the Salvation Army thrift stores fund the Adult Rehabilitation Center in Hartford, a free program provided to people suffering from substance abuse and, in Moorthie’s words, “trying to make a better life for themselves.” With the advent of the rise in opioid addiction, Moorthie said the need has risen.

Each Salvation Army rehabilitation center offers housing, work, and group and individual therapy. Participants stay an average of six to nine months.

Moorthie said there will be some physical rehabilitation of the Bank Street building in anticipation of the opening. City records show the building has been the target of blight violations in the years since it closed for things like garbage dumping, graffiti and overgrown vegetation.

While past violations were corrected, a new notice of violation issued last week comes under the city’s storefront ordinance, which mandates that vacant storefronts be cleaned up with something to block the view inside from the front windows, such as window tinting.

Blight Enforcement Officer Omi Morales said the notice of violation, which precedes an actual citation, is a notice that things need to be corrected. In this case, he said, there is peeling paint, empty storefront windows and overgrowth. He said the building in general looks distressed.

g.smith@theday.com

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