040719-wsj-biz-on-retail1

New furniture received its own space in 2017 at the Bethesda Thrift Store, 201 Cottage Grove Road. But the Watertown-based organization has announced that it will close the 6,000-square-foot store by the end of June. 

The Madison area is flush with thrift shops from operators like Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin, St. Vincent de Paul, Habitat for Humanity, Agrace Hospice and even the Dane County Humane Society.

But one longtime shop is leaving the market.

The Bethesda Thrift Store, 201 Cottage Grove Rd., will close by the end of June but the organization's 15 other stores in seven states will remain open, said Juli Frank, vice president of retail for Watertown-based Bethesda Lutheran Communities. The closing comes two years after the Madison store was remodeled and expanded by 1,000-square-feet to accommodate the sale of more furniture. 

“We continually review our operations to ensure they meet the needs of the community while being financially sustainable," Frank said in a prepared statement. "After careful analysis, we will be closing our Madison location at the end of June. We sincerely appreciate all of the support we’ve received over the years from our loyal staff, volunteers and customers.”

Bethesda Thrift Store

The Bethesda Thrift Store, 201 Cottage Grove Rd., will close by the end of June. The store has been a part of the Madison thrift store landscape since 1986

Beginning April 15, merchandise throughout the store will be marked an additional 25 percent off. Items include gently-used clothing, household goods, furniture, books, linens, jewelry, electrical items, antiques and collectibles. The 6,000-square-foot shop also features new furniture, including mattresses, sofas, chairs, dressers and dining sets, Frank said.

The Bethesda Thrift Store in Madison has been around since 1986 when it was located on North Sherman Avenue. In 2006, the store moved to its Cottage Grove Road location where it is staffed by 35 volunteers who work 700 hours a month along with three part-time employees. Bethesda operates 10 stores in Wisconsin including in Horicon and Watertown.

For decades, Bethesda operated a large campus institution in Watertown for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities but now cares for its clients in group homes around the country. Profits from the thrift stores help fund Bethesda programs that also include camps, intermittent support, day programs and employment support services.

The closing of the Cottage Grove Road thrift shop comes after the 26,000-square-foot Ace Hardware store, that had been located next door, closed last year leaving the neighborhood without a hardware store for the first time in at least 50 years. Negotiations to renew the lease were unsuccessful. The space is now the temporary home of the Madison Public Library's Pinney Branch until the new library is completed at nearby Royster Corners.

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

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