Categorized | FEATURED

East Lake Savers is closed, catching everyone by surprise

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

Powderhorn resident Sherrie Beal tried on a suede jacket with 6” fringe and said, “Where else can you find something like this for $4? I’ve been thrifting for as long as I can remember, and this place is a neighborhood institution. I don’t believe in buying clothes new when you can get great stuff without adding to the waste stream.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

According to several employees, the closing of the East Lake Savers in the Hi-Lake Shopping Center took everyone by surprise.
Cashier Julie Johnson said, “This closing was very sudden. Someone from the corporate office walked in here on Wed., Apr. 3, and said, ‘We’re closing the store in nine days.’ Savers has been in this location for 27 years, and there were a few people hired the day before. We’re sorry for the loss to the community.”

Savers LLC is the biggest for-profit thrift store chain in the U.S. According to their website, the company runs more than 300 stores with 22,000 employees under the names Savers and Valu Village in the U.S., Canada, and Australia; or at least they did before the recent spate of closings.

It’s hard to know how many stores there still are. The Valu Village store at Sun Ray Shopping Center in St. Paul also closed Apr. 13.

Photo right: Cashier Julie Johnson said, “The employees are sorry for the loss of this store to the community.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

This isn’t the first time the thrift store chain has been in the news. In 2015, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sued Savers for misleading the public about their donations to charities. Contrary to what they advertised, Savers gave as little as 1% of clothing sales to charitable nonprofits—and none of its profits from furniture and other home goods. The company later entered into a settlement agreement with the attorney general’s office. They agreed to disclose to donors their status as a for-profit company and to have transparency on their website about actual charitable donations.

The Hi-Lake Shopping Center is managed by Wellington Management. Executive vice-president David Wellington said, “We were disappointed when we learned that Savers would go dark at the end of the month; they have been an excellent tenant there since 1992. We’re actively seeking a replacement tenant, including a thrift store or other use that would be a good mix in this important neighborhood shopping center.”

According to Wellington property manager Vicky Carr, “The lease for Savers was locked in for several years to come. A rent increase had nothing to do with their decision to close.”

According to Bloomberg LP (a global provider of financial news and information), the most likely reason for the closing seems to be a restructuring deal last month that cuts Savers’ debt load by 40% and handed over the reins to a new management and investment group. The lighter debt load and new financing will put Savers in a better position, as will reducing the number of stores they operate.

East Lake Savers manager Chantelle Caldwell said, “I started as a cashier here four years ago, and worked my way up. We’ve been told we could transfer to other stores, but for me, it’s not worth it. I’d have to start over again at entry-level. I was told they don’t have any management openings at the other Twin Cities stores. We have about 100 employees at this store alone. Some are really sad, but I’m excited. It’s time for me to do something new.”