TRUSSVILLE, AL (WBRC) - The Trussville City Council has called a special meeting for Monday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. in City Hall to discuss the possibility of a thrift store coming into town. Last week, America's Thrift Store signed a lease to move into the old Food World location on Highway 11 in downtown Trussville. Since then, opposition to the store has arisen from members of the community as well as city leaders.
Tonight's meeting will give both sides the chance to voice their opinions on an issue that has brought the proposed thrift store into the center of attention. There will also be a time open for public comment during the meeting.
Buddy Choat, a Trussville city councilman, said the purpose of the called meeting is "to discuss and let the citizens of Trussville know our position, us being the city of Trussville, on the location of America' Thrift store in downtown Trussville."
The redevelopment of downtown Trussville is at the heart of the issue, and Choat says the city will present architectural designs of a more traditional style for the city, rather than a modern-looking one.
In an interview with FOX 6's Jonathan Hardison, Trussville's mayor Gene Melton said the city has no problem with a thrift store coming to Trussville, but they have been working hard on a master plan for redeveloping the downtown area and doesn't think any "big box" store fits.
"As far as trying to prevent a thrift store from coming to Trussville, that's not our goal; we can't make it a thrift store issue; our issue is developing downtown," he said.
America's Thrift Store would bring 70 jobs into the community, and since it's a for-profit organization, the business would also collect and pay sales tax. Currently there are 16 America's Thrift Store locations in five southeastern states, including ones in Gardendale and Huffman.
Those locations have been the subject of criticism in the local newspaper The Trussville Tribune.
"While I am not familiar with every America's Thrift Stores location, I am familiar with three of them. The Huffman and Gardendale stores are surrounded by former homes of national chains. An old Pizza Hut in Huffman and an old national chicken chain restaurant in Gardendale are now businesses of the payday loan, check cashing variety," said Scott Buttram, publisher of the Trussville Tribune, in an editorial.
Buttram posted a lengthy editorial titled "Thrift store opposition not based on ignorance" on the Trussville Tribune Facebook page Feb. 25 and noted on the page that it will run in the March 3 print edition. The title is in response to comments made by America's Thrift Store president Tim Alvis in an interview with FOX 6, which you can view here.
In the editorial, Buttram also calls a downtown thrift store in Trussville a "kiss of death to one of the most promising retail areas in all of Jefferson County" and cites a thrift store's "circle of influence" as the main problem.
America's Thrift store president Tim Alvis and his management team will be at tonight's meeting to address the issues surrounding the store and its proposed opening.
"I believe the majority of Trussville is looking forward to us being there," Alvis said. "Right now I have a signed lease, and am planning on opening the store," he said.
Unless there is any reason for delays, the store's target opening date has been set for May 1.
"We have a presentation prepared, and we'll address the people and calm down their fears about a thrift store," Alvis said.