Paws up: Arizona Humane Society thrift store in Mesa helps animals thrive

Paws up: Arizona Humane Society thrift store in Mesa helps animals thrive

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The Arizona Humane Society’s thrift store relocated from Tempe to Mesa opened in February 2017. (Courtesy of the Arizona Humane Society)

Next time you decide to go shopping, try a thrift store—the prices are lower than regular stores and can help you save money. Keep in mind that thrift stores’ reputations have become more positive through the years; a thrift store’s aesthetic looks as inviting as a department store—the only hang-up you may have? You’ll have to do a double-take at the prices. More than selling their unique items at reduced prices, often thrift stores’ proceeds will benefit a certain cause or organization.

If you’re a thrift shopper and an animal lover, the Arizona Humane Society’s thrift stores may be after your own heart. The nonprofit organization has three stores (one in Mesa, Sunnyslope and Cave Creek) that sell items from clothes to furniture to items for your furry companion. The thrift stores are an extension of Arizona Humane Society’s mission to assist animals to live their happiest life; all the proceeds at the thrift stores are put directly back into the Arizona Humane Society so they can continue helping animals.

The Mesa location, which opened in February 2017, replaced the Tempe thrift store. At approximately 12,500 square feet, the Mesa thrift store has enough space to display plenty of clothing, furniture, housewares and pet items at reduced prices.

“The great thing about the Arizona Humane Society thrift stores, is because we are a non-profit organization, all purchases are tax free,” said Bretta Nelson, public relations manager of the Arizona Humane Society. In addition, Nelson said “100 percent of the proceeds go back to benefit the homeless animals at the Arizona Humane Society, so it’s a cause that pet lovers can certainly get behind. The other great thing is whether you’re purchasing goods or donating items, you’re making a difference in the life of a homeless animal.”

Since moving the thrift store to Mesa, the Arizona Humane Society has kept most of its Tempe location customers, who travel to Mesa to donate and purchase items.

“The donations through the door have actually doubled since we went from Tempe to Mesa,” said Greg Virga, thrift store operations manager, Arizona Humane Society. “So the response from the Mesa community has been great.”

This response is in part to members of the community and residents donating items to the thrift stores, or making purchases in the store. In addition, the thrift stores have various sales each day of the week including 25 and 50 percent off certain items. Virga said they sell mostly clothing in the stores, which is credit to the Arizona Humane Society’s relationship with My Sister’s Closet, which donates large amounts of high-quality clothing.

Nelson said anytime the Arizona Humane Society enters into a business decision such as moving a store location, it’s important to ensure it’s financially responsible due to the organization’s status as a non-profit.

“Because of course we want our donor’s dollars going towards our life-saving programs and services,” Nelson said, referencing the Arizona Humane Society’s trauma hospital, field operations rescue team and spay and neuter services.

“We really conduct our due diligence in researching where to go…and we’re very fortunate that we have partnerships in the community that will afford us those opportunities,” Nelson said. “Because at the end of the day, we need to make sure that it’s a financially responsible decision that will accrue funds that can go back to those programs and services.”

Virga said the Arizona Humane Society has an orientation program for new hires working in the thrift stores to learn about the various aspects of the organization.

“They speak of the Humane Society and all the programs to almost every customer that comes through the door,” Virga said. “Bretta and her team have a plethora of marketing materials and handouts and volunteer engagement information, so there’s all kinds of stuff for us to be spokespeople for the Arizona Humane Society and we make that part of our culture in the thrift department to make sure we promote the Arizona Humane Society everyday.”

Since 1957, they have rescued, cared for and helped find homes for thousands of animals that are neglected and/or abused in Arizona. This is done through a number of services such as medical care, foster and adoption, and community outreach through youth, school and adult programs, as well as providing pet resources and information.

“This past year we took in more than 16,000 homeless animals and our mission is a little different in the community in that we take in the sick, injured and abused homeless animals and we do that in large part through our emergency animal medical technicians,” Nelson said. She mentioned the technicians are on the road everyday responding to animal rescues and suspected cases of animal cruelty. Nelson said that team responded to 12,000 rescues and suspected cases of animal cruelty last year and nearly 9,000 of those animals are treated in the Arizona Humane Society Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital.

“These thrift stores are critical in sustaining our work not just for this year, but for the future moving forward, because those funds can go directly back into field rescue, our trauma hospital, spay and neuter services,” Nelson said. “There is no shortage of programs that we offer not only to shelter pets, but to pet owners in the community.”

Since the three thrift store locations have been successful, Virga said the Arizona Humane Society wants to expand and is confident in the next few years they can add a fourth thrift store location.

The Mesa thrift store is located at 1110 W. Southern Ave. To learn more about the Arizona Humane Society, their thrift stores, to volunteer or utilize their online resources, visit: AZHumane.org.

– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.com.

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