By Michelle Key
After sitting empty for nearly three years, the 52,602 square foot building that formerly housed Gander Mountain is getting a new tenant. America’s Thrift Stores has signed a lease for the retail space and plans to open in little more than two and half months.
President and Chief Executive Officer of America’s Thrift Stores Ken Sobaski said that they are excited about coming to this location.
“It is a market in Alabama that we know has a solid population base, decent growth and a good economy,” he said.
The store’s grand opening is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 19 through Nov. 22.
“What we don’t know is how big of a grand opening we will do just given everything COVID,” Sobaski said. “We may do more of a soft opening and not have all the hoopla that we like to have, but we are on target to open that weekend.”
The Opelika store will be the 12th store in Alabama and the 21st for the company. The other nine stores are located in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The company has been operating for nearly 36 years. Sobaski, who has been at the helm of the organization since early 2014, said that they expect this location to create 70 to 80 jobs. The company will host a two-week job fair starting Sept. 14 at the Holiday Inn Express, 1801 Capps Landing in Opelika. More information on the job fair will be released as soon as it becomes available.
“We have to have a decent size crew to process all those donations,” Sobaski said. “The bulk of the employees are the ones working behind the retail sales floor, getting donations ready to go out onto the floor.”
Sobaski expects that the location will have at least two trucks that will assist in picking up deliveries from people’s homes as well as from their donation bins throughout the area.
“It will be a decent number of new employees,” he said.
All of America’s Thrift Stores partner with local, regional or national charitable organizations. The Opelika store will be partnering with Make-A-Wish Alabama.
“It is a great partnership, and they will actually be a strong participant in our opening and a great partner with us,” Sobaski said.
The store will carry a blend of donated items and new items. There will be donation bins throughout the community and a drive-up donation center at the back of the store.
“We take donations of gently-used clothing and household items,” Sobaski said. “Every pound of donations collected results in a donation to Make-A-Wish. This year, we will contribute more than a million dollars to Make-A-Wish in the state of Alabama.”
America’s Thrift Stores pride themselves on how well their merchandise is organized.
“We know that while people love to hunt for treasures, they love to find them more,” Sobaski said.
America’s Thrift Store believes in making it easy for their customers to find what they are looking for as it will create a better shopping experience. The store will be divided into different departments and each department will then be subdivided even further based on the style or type of items.
“The tagline we use for the company is ‘Where it’s a new store every day,’” Sobaski said. “The reason we say that is because our key to success is the variety of selection that customers will find in our stores.”
The company will collect approximately 50 million pounds of donations this year and Sobaski said that each store will generally put out approximately 12,000 to 15,000 new items every day.
“People who shop thrift are looking for that treasure and they know that if it is not there today, it might be there tomorrow,” he said.
The store will be located at 1640 Parker Way in Opelika. For more information visit the company’s website (americasthrift.com) or Facebook page (facebook.com/americasthrift/).