‘Big day for Rome’: Family Store moves, triples space
By: David Ibata
The Salvation Army Family Store in Rome, Georgia, had outgrown its 3,800-square-foot space in the corps building downtown – it had only six parking spaces, for example – so corps officer Captain Jason Smith and retired officer and store manager Major Loyd Kerns prayed about it.
Captain Smith drove around town and spotted the Gala Plaza shopping center at 2511 Redmond Circle on the west side of Rome. It had space, and it was on a busy commercial street near a Walmart and Sam’s Club. He prayed whether that was where the Lord was leading.
One day in May 2017, the captain took Major Kerns to show him what he’d found. The two men soon discovered something astounding.
“Major Kerns and I had been praying for the same building,” Captain Smith said. They also learned an Aaron’s furniture rental was vacating 11,500 square feet there.
A year and some months later, on Wednesday, Aug. 29, Captains Jason and Melissa Smith, Major Kerns and the Rome Corps invited the public and local dignitaries to a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the new Family Store at Gala Plaza.
“This is a big day for Rome. Thank you for everything you do,” said Rome Mayor Jamie Doss. “This thrift store is a great resource to help fund the needs of the community.”
It took about a year to secure the lease, but once that was done in May 2018, contractors and some 75 volunteers descended on the former Aaron’s space. They removed walls and offices, tore out carpeting and restored the ceiling to its original height. About $45,000 went into the renovation.
“As the project progressed, our prayers were confirmed,” Captain Jason said. “We knew this was the right place, where God intended the store to be.”
After three months’ work, as the new store neared completion, volunteers began moving inventory from the old store at 310 E. 2nd Ave. and adding to it. The corps went from displaying a maximum of 2,500 articles of clothing to 7,500; 160 pairs of shoes, to more than 300; and bric-a-brac, from perhaps 500 to as many as 7,000 pieces. And there’s plenty of parking – more than 100 spaces.
The new store rang up $7,849 in opening day sales.
Captain Jason said, “I think this project is God honoring. I do believe this Family Store is going to make a difference. It will aid in getting the Rome Command to a strong financial footing where we can further the mission of The Salvation Army, meeting the needs of the less fortunate in our community.”