Sometime Monday evening between 6:15 and 7:00 pm a fire broke out in the sorting area in the back of our Thrift Shoppe. Although we are awaiting the final word on the cause of the fire, I was informed by the inspector on site that he did not suspect arson. The fire took place after closing. No staff were in the building, no one was hurt, and the fire did not spread to neighbouring structures.
Structural damage to the back part of the building, including the roof above the sorting area, has rendered that area of the building unsafe. The roof had to be punched through to address hot spots. As well, the smoke damage is intensive and it is too early to know if any of the clothing stock can be salvaged.
The Fire Department’s rough estimate is $350,000 in total damages including the cost of stock, but we won’t know the final amount for sure for a few days. Our insurance company has been contacted and we will be meeting with them onsite as soon as possible Tuesday.
Tuesday morning the lead team and others will be meeting to plan a course of action.
It is our intent to find a location at which we can still receive clothing donations so that part of the Thrift Shoppe’s operation is not disrupted. We will be taking action on that first thing Tuesday. I ask the community and our supporters to hang on for a few days to find out if we can set up an alternative clothing drop off location. In the meantime we will still receive clothing donations at our South Side Donations Centre at 5120 – 122 Street, Edmonton, Phone: 780.432.2377. The South Side Donations Centre is open Monday – Saturday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
I imagine it will take three to four months to get the Thrift Shoppe fully operational, but I will know within a week or so if we might be able to open up the front end of the store earlier than that or if opening a smaller version of the Thrift Shoppe somewhere else temporarily is an option.
Our goal is to get back up and running and soon as possible. Each month 5,500 to 6,000 low income people shop at our Thrift Shoppe for low cost clothing and household items. They depend on our store to help them manage their household income and maximize what money they have to purchase needed items. Approximately 1,000 donations of clothing and household items are brought to the Thrift Shoppe each month to support not only the Thrift Shoppe but also our free clothing outlet which helps several thousand people each year as well. I am concerned about the impact this will have on those community members who rely on us.
I am also concerned about on our Thrift Shoppe employees. I will be meeting with Bissell’s HR and Finance team to assess what we will lose in store revenues, though I estimate it at $70,000 per month and we will determine the extent of any lay-offs we may have to undertake. It is my hope we can re-deploy some of our staff to recovery operations, but it is too early to know any details about that.
The loss of revenue along with costs that will not be covered by insurance will have significant impact on our current budget, so I will be also working with the lead team and Bissell Centre’s Board of Governors to identify any strategies that may mitigate some of the impact on our bottom line for this fiscal year as well as to our Thrift Shoppe employees.
Please note: the fire will negatively impact our ability to assist with Homeward Trust’s clothing drive for Homeless Connect. We are in discussions with Homeward Trust and will announce alternative efforts to help out with that clothing drive as soon as possible.
Mark Holmgren, CEO