Salvation Army of Conway is set to open at a new location Friday.

The former space downtown at Court Street is vacant, and Thursday, volunteers were stocking shelves and racks at 2125 Harkrider Street, where Salvation Army will open its storefront again under a new banner, "Family Store."

Lieutenants Russell and Jamie Clay, along with the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, will host an opening and ribbon cutting ceremony just before the store begins business at 10 a.m.

Activities are planned throughout the first day at the new location.

The geography of the store is not the only change, said Lt. Jamie Clay. The process from donation to sale has been streamlined.

"We want to treat donors’ things with respect. Donors trust us, and we need to be respectful in presenting these things to the best of our ability," said Clay.

Thursday she talked of a new experience with thrift shopping. She, her husband Lt. Russell Clay, and employees, aim to create a department store feel, she said.

"We don’t want anyone to be classified as an individual who can’t afford nice things," said Clay. "We don’t want people to think when they’re going to a thrift store, it will not be nice. I want them to get a department store experience."

As volunteers and employees did an inventory of the items stuffed in the smaller, darker space on Court Street, Clay said they found some surprising items.

A Coach bag and two Louis Vitton purses are in display cases at the Family Store, and highly valued antiques were unearthed in the move.

The Family Store will have an antique and vintage department, a boutique area, children’s clothing and toys, and men’s and women’s clothes.

Clay, who has a background in marketing displays, said they’ve put forth the best inventory in a way to make the most of the store.

"By improving our inventory, making sure things are clean, repaired and presentable, we can make a better profit to support social services and youth programs," Clay said.

The Salvation Army sends children to camp with funds from the store, and Clay said she expects the group will be able to add to its music program.

Additionally, she’d like to see more effort and money put into the Salvation Army’s programs to help senior citizens at Christmas and Easter.

Prices may increase slightly, she said, on items that have been retouched or repaired by employees before moving the items to the selling floor.

The move to Harkrider Street is an effort to provide more parking and more room for merchandise, Clay said. The new location offers more visibility and will bring in some new customers, Clay hopes.

She said the ultimate goal of the move and improvements is to provide existing customers with a more relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience.

An increase in revenue is also essential, she said.

The store’s hours have changed to match surrounding businesses.

The Family Store will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)