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Auburn Humane Society opens thrift store at old Peckenpaugh Drugstore site
Suddenly in a shaft of sunlight streaming through the doors of Peckenpaugh's old drug store on M and East Main, a woman appears.
Front to back, east to west, her eyes scan the goods, clothes, posters, dishes desks, mirrors and other items, most of the stock donated from Auburn's garages, basements, backyards and attics.
The woman points to an empty corner.
"Is there going to be stuff back there?" she asks the owner.
"That's where we are going to have vendor booths where people can come and put their own stuff up," says Phil Morgan, executive director of the Auburn Valley Humane Society — and as of two weeks ago, proprietor of Humane Society Thrift Store and More.
The shop is there to fatten AVHS' revenue stream so that the shelter on A Street can do more for the creatures under its wing and for longer hours every day.
"If it's a success, it will allow us to expand our revenue and our hours," Morgan said. "That means I'll need another body because payroll is expensive. We'd like to expand to seven days a week at the shelter. We would like to launch a pets' domestic violence program and a humane education program. Both of those involve payroll and costs. With such a tight budget, I can't expand into those other areas without increased revenue some place."
If the store can generate about $250,000 to $300,000 a year, Morgan said, it should allow the two programs to be added.
The AVHS shelter has financially reached its limits: it cannot do any more adoptions; it cannot do any more returns to owners, Morgan said.
"So we are going to focus on animal licensing this year, and we are going to look at how we can help the City increase licensing. Our organization gets to keep all the licensing revenues the City generates. The City pays us $241,000 and change every year to house its lost animals. If the City and us should raise a half-million dollars, then the difference of that money would go back to the shelter."
Morgan said it is not the first thrift store he has been associated with in his many years of working for non profits.
"I have done several of these for various humane societies for which I have worked across the country, and all of them have been successful. To me, it's a natural. The public wants to donate, they want to support a lot of people who like to volunteer for the organization, but they don't like to volunteer at the shelter because puppies and kitties make them sad. People are here for the cause, and this gives them a chance to support the organization, and it allows us to have an additional revenue stream," Morgan said.
The idea of a thrift store to raise revenue turned into a frequent topic at meetings of AVHS' board of directors.
"When we found out this site was available here, the board jumped on it. Everything just fit together so well, including negotiating the lease and the terms of the lease. It had to work out perfectly, or we wouldn't have been able to do it. It's a great location, and it's something the community needs ... We already have a good relationship with other thrift stores in town. People who go to thrift stores don't just go to one, they do a loop, and I think we're going to be within the loop," Morgan said.
Morgan said this particular thrift store differs from others in one important respect.
"Others are just all thrift store, and we wanted to be a bit more than that. There's not a lot of consignment shops in town, and I've got spaces you can rent, put your stuff in them. I provide you with a bar code, so when your item comes up I can scan it and keep track of it, and at the end of the month I cut you a check for 70 percent of it, we keep 30 percent," Morgan said.
The assistant manager is Kelly Benson. There are four volunteers.
The store's hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.