UPDATE: DAV removes signs from local thrift store - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: DAV removes signs from local thrift store

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UPDATE: It is official; the thrift store in Cleveland is no longer affiliated with the DAV. The manager was served the papers to remove his name and store from the organization.

A group of state DAV representatives spent Wednesday morning tearing down DAV signs from the thrift store in Cleveland. The store no longer represents the Disabled American Veterans organization. “I don't want the DAV name slandered in any way. I don't want my local chapter slandered. We work way too hard,” said Local Commander Bill Gray.

DAV state representatives served Grant Pirkel a letter Wednesday morning saying the signs must be removed. They say Pirkel owes the organization over $130,000 that shoppers thought was going to veterans in need. The DAV is due ten percent of Pirkel's gross income, and 50 percent of his profit. “We have received since the beginning of the store, $5,098.14,” said State Adjutant Don Samuels.

Pirkel says the thrift store has been in business less than a year and it takes time for businesses to make money. “If it is not coming in, you cannot pay it out. You still have to keep the lights on, still have to pay rent, still pay employees or you have no store,” said Grant Pirkel.

But that excuse isn't enough for the organization. Don Samuels says Pirkel knew what he was signing up for, and he can't allow the DAV to be represented falsely. “Why would we put our name on this building and not receive anything to help veterans..for nothing,” said Samuels.

Grant Pirkel says he plans to continue the thrift store under a different name -- Veteran's First. He purchased the items already in the store from the DAV and claims his profits will go toward local veterans.

The local DAV chapter wants to remind the public they are not affiliated with the thrift store. That group fundraises for their own projects.

For more information about the DAV and local chapters go to : www.dav.org

A new thrift store in Cleveland claims it raises money for the Disabled American Veterans charity or DAV. While it is a certified affiliate with the national organization-- organizers say they haven't seen the cash.

The Ferrell's are frustrated knowing their money isn't going back to help the men and women who served our country. Now they are warning others not to contribute to the DAV in Cleveland.

Kathy Ferrell proudly displays her husband’s military photo on an end table she bought from the DAV thrift store in Cleveland. She thought the money was going to disabled American veterans. “It is hurtful because my husband served, I have uncles that served. Many people donate or buy from there because they got military in their family and you think it is going back to the veterans,” said Kathy Ferrell.

After what she calls an unpleasant experience at the shop, she called headquarters to complain. That’s when she learned her money may not being going to veterans who need it. “I hope they start doing what they're supposed to do and the money goes to the veterans or the store is closed.”

Channel 3 stopped by the shop to speak with the manager. Grant Pirkel says the business is a registered DAV affiliate, and all the proceeds go directly to veterans. “We don't get anything. If the store doesn't make money, I don't make money. I never get a paycheck out of here, everything since now has been volunteer,” said Pirkel.

A spokesperson for the state DAV confirmed the store is certified with the organization, but has fallen behind on payments. According to the DAV, a contract requires the shop to submit ten percent of its monthly earnings. The DAV says it's only received about $4,000 over two years.

“I just wish they would put the money where it is supposed to and people will know our veterans need help anyway they can get it,” said Ferrell. She says until all the money goes towards helping veterans she is taking her business elsewhere. “They have lost my business. It makes me not trust any of these organizations saying they're helping this or that.”

The store manager insists he is not late on payments. He couldn't tell Channel 3 exactly how much he has given the state compared to his monthly earnings. Channel 3 also learned the shop's owner lost the DAV in Knoxville when he couldn't afford to pay for the rent and operation fees.

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