Salvation Army Family Store in Arden // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: What’s the deal with the Salvation Army store in Arden? It’s been closed for two years now. The lights are still on, the merchandise is still there and there’s a sign that’s been there saying, “Closed until further notice,” ever since. For a time there was a written sign on the window saying another store would be coming “soon,” but that’s been marked out. It looks like they’re still paying the bills but not doing anything with the building.

My answer: You know how a lot of thrift stores have that “old clothes” smell when you walk in? Well, that doesn’t just happen by itself. You’ve got to let those togs marinate for a few years.

Real answer: It does indeed look like this building could go on the market.

Salvation Army Maj. Kenny Clewis // watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

“We met with our board (April 24), and my board recommended approval for us to hire an appraiser to see what the value of the property is (to see) about possibly selling it,” Maj. Kenny Clewis, head of the local Salvation Army, said.

The local Salvation Army branch will have to get approvals from its higher boards in Charlotte and Atlanta before the building goes on the market, Clewis said.

As I mentioned in a previous column about a man who’d taken up residence in the closed store’s parking lot, the Salvation Army store closed in early 2021 after someone who was drag racing down Hendersonville Road ran into the front of it. The Salvation Army began renovations, but the City of Asheville required better metal beams in it, and COVID-19 supply chain issues delayed their arrival. The roof also needed work, which has been completed.

Clewis said they wanted to reopen the store after finishing the work, but they ran into another problem: staffing it.

The Salvation Army store is Closed Until further notice, a sign announces // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

“We’ve got two stores, and (with) the largest store I can’t get enough (workers), and I can’t open Arden until I get the other store going,” Clewis said. “Then on top of that, while I’m trying to wait for that to happen, I keep getting bombarded with thousands of dollars of restoration or repairs, or something all the time.”

Between cleanup and towing fees, the incident with the man living on the property in an undriveable camper truck cost the Salvation Army $1,850, Clewis said.

Other people had taken to dumping items on site, and Clewis had to spend a lot of money fixing HVAC units on the back of the building that had been vandalized.

Most recently, in early March someone fired bullets through the front windows, causing another $3,000 in damage, Clewis said. In short, owning a building that’s not in operation has become very expensive.

The Salvation Army bought the building in July 2009 for $825,000 according to Buncombe County property records. Built in 1994, the building is 5,950 square feet and sits on .42 of an acre. 

Buncombe County tax records show the building and property have a total appraised value of $451,900.

If you have interest in buying the property, contact Clewis at 252-339-1788.

Salvation Army store in Arden // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

Jubilee! Community Church update: In November I wrote about Jubilee! Community church putting its building at 46 Wall St. in downtown up for sale.

After a 33-year run in downtown Asheville, the Jubilee! Community Church has been sold. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

This week, Bruce Mulkey, administrator for Jubilee! reached out to let me know the building is being sold to Anthony Ruben, the founder of Equitas Company, for $1,879,750. The sale is scheduled to close on May 19, Jubilee! said in a news release.

Equitas will manage the property, and Ruben said he expects to have the building ready to lease for office and retail space in about six months.

“We’re tremendously enthusiastic about acquiring this historic building, and we look forward to it continuing to contribute to the already great city of Asheville,” Ruben said in the release.

The “past few years have been difficult for the Jubilee! Community,” Mulkey acknowledged.

“The combined impact of the retirement of our founder and longtime minister Howard Hanger, the COVID pandemic’s interruption of our in-person Sunday Celebrations, and other factors significantly diminished the size of our membership,” Mulkey said. “With a smaller community, not enough donations were coming in to pay the mortgage, utilities and upkeep on such a large building.”

Hanger retired in 2019 after 30 years as the church’s minister.

Bruce Mulkey // photo from

The 10,750-square-foot building has entrances at 46 Wall Street and 101 Patton Avenue. It was a nightclub before Jubilee! leased the building in 1989 and then bought it in 2000.

Jubilee! paid $550,000 for the building in 2000, but it needed a major renovation. The church moved into the renovated building in 2006, and Jubilee! grew to about 500 active members.

That had declined to about a quarter of that by late last year. 

The building was listed at $5.2 million, but it looks like a more realistic price was reached.

While the building is being sold, Jubilee! will continue on, with plans to cautiously manage the windfall from the sale. The release noted the church is focusing on “a sustainable model that will support it hiring a new minister and attracting new members.”

Jubilee! will partner with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to manage the sale funds, and the money remaining after the mortgage and other items are paid will be put into separate funds for specific needs.

That includes money to support growth, “while creating a permanent endowment to continue making donations to nonprofit service organizations that support unhoused and low-income individuals and families, and setting aside a large reserve for whatever comes next,” the release said.

In the meantime, instead of buying another building, Jubilee! is renting space for Sunday Celebrations at Rainbow Community School Auditorium in West Asheville.

Mulkey said the two organizations place emphasis on building a socially just, spiritually connected, and environmentally sustainable world.

“Beyond having similar values, we are also excited about having plenty of free parking and outdoor space at Rainbow,” Mulkey said.

Jubilee! will hold its final Sunday Celebration at the Wall Street location on May 14. Services will start at Rainbow May 21.

Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at or 828-337-0941.