THE Salvation Army wants to open a shop at Rockdale so it can better serve the welfare needs of the community.
The non-profit organisation hopes Rockdale Council will approve its plan to expand its operations by replacing the indoor basketball courts situated within the Salvation Army Corps site on West Botany Street that was established about 20 years ago.
If approved, it would be the first combined Salvos' church and retail site in Sydney.
There is only one other stand-alone Salvos' store — at Hurstville, in St George.
The Salvation Army has seen an 8 per cent rise in sales in the past year.
A stumbling block for the plan is that the basketball courts are being used by a number of sporting groups who play competitive team games at the venue.
Army officer Anthony Rees said the organisation wanted to attract a diverse group of people.
"The sports centre has been a great resource for a long time — the past 15 years or so — but people who come here are using it exclusively for sport," he said.
"We have the space, and we need to use it in the most effective, holistic way, so we can continue with our programs.
"The groups impacted have been very understanding of our situation."
The Salvation Army hopes to have the store open by the end of the year.
"We do not just want it to be a shop for people who are on limited budgets," Captain Rees said.
"It would go further, in helping the homeless and people in desperate situations.
"We also want to develop a welfare outlet where people can have coffee or lunch."
The Salvation Army has asked the council to help it find an alternative space for sporting groups.
What do you think is more important - the shop or the basketball courts?