A thrift store is where shoppers can find reduced prices on used clothing, furniture, household goods and other items, but at the same time know that some of the money they spend is going to a charitable organization.

The Madison market is filled with nonprofit stores such as St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill, Agrace Thrift and Bethesda House of Thrift. But one of the biggest players will soon close.

Officials with the Salvation Army Thrift Store, 4636 E. Washington Ave., said the store will close at the end of February when a five-year lease expires on the 18,000-square-foot space.

A new location with less-expensive rent but similar in size is being sought, but no spots have yet been identified.

“We can’t keep losing money,” said Capt. Gerhard Scheler of the Salvation Army of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. “The owner would have had to drastically cut the rent, and I couldn’t see anybody doing that.”

Sales at the store, and from Salvation Army Thrift stores in Burlington and three in the Milwaukee area, are used to support a 100-bed substance abuse rehabilitation center for men in Milwaukee that has an annual budget of about $3.3 million.

In the last three years, stores in Waukesha and Menomonee Falls have closed, but the Salvation Army has also opened a store in Milwaukee, Scheler said.

The location of the Madison store near East Towne Mall and on one of the busiest corridors in the city would appear to be conducive, but a frontage road limited access to the business, which employs 10 people, Scheler said.

“The customer count never came up to where it would be viable for us,” Scheler said. “It’s very unfortunate because we hate to close stores. We have a customer base. We do have a donor base and we’re not able to open a store quick enough to have those people go to the other store.”

Scheler described the current location as a “C” location but said a “B” location would be adequate to make the business viable. Sites are being considered throughout the area including the South Side. He also believes that with the right locations, two stores could serve the Madison market.

“We do want to stay in Madison. The community has a need there and we think if we find the right spot for the right price we can make a good go of it,” Scheler said. “It’s tough and it’s a hard business to be in, but if you can get yourself enough product and merchandise it properly, you can do OK.”

Platteville project underway: Ground has been broken in Platteville for a unique and collaborative development project.

The redevelopment of what is called the Library Block includes 22,000 square feet of commercial space that will house the Platteville Public Library and a 72-room Holiday Inn Express. The project also includes 59 underground parking spaces and 37 surface parking spots and is expected to be completed in April of 2017.

Miners Development of St. Cloud, Minnesota, is the project developer and has selected National Construction to do the work. Other participants include the city of Platteville, Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, WHEDA, Forward Community Investments, the Platteville Public Library Board and the Platteville Library Foundation.

Mounds switches to an ESOP: One of southern Wisconsin’s largest pet supply companies is now employee-owned.

Mounds Pet Food Warehouse has transferred 100 percent ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

An ESOP is a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees and provides the employees an ownership stake with the company. Tim Walton, president and owner of Mounds, finalized the sale in October.

“This is a new, exciting phase for Mounds,” Walton said in a release. “It will help cultivate long-term service, promote company pride and (provide) a greater stake in securing the company’s presence in the local communities the company serves so well.”

Mounds operates stores in Madison, Middleton, Fitchburg, Janesville and Sun Prairie.

Send retail-related tips and story ideas to badams@madison.com or call Barry Adams at 608-252-6148.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.