The storefront that was once home to Muttley’s Pet Emporium will continue to be a valuable resource for animals and their human companions when Sammie’s Friends opens Sammie’s Nifty Thrift Shop in early March.
Sammie’s cofounder Cheryl Wick and board member Joanne Castles were inspired to open a thrift store after attending a national No More Homeless Pets conference in Las Vegas in October.
Wicks was a guest speaker at the event, giving a presentation on “Journey to No-Kill Communities.”
“We went to a lot of talks on fundraising and sustaining an organization and increasing membership,” Castles said.
“A woman was there talking about it and we just decided to run with it and do it,” Wicks added.
Castles, who is currently tasked with getting the shop up and running, has been steadfastly working to get shelves, dressing rooms, utilities, cash registers, racks, and donations in order to have the 6,000-square-foot location ready to open for business March 1 or 2.
In addition to tapping into the thrift and retail experience of Rita Burns, former owner of Tess’ Kitchen Store, and Mitzi Klakenberg, who worked at the Penn Valley Hospice Thrift store, Castles visited numerous local and regional thrift shops in Nevada County and the Sacramento area.
“We checked out displays and prices, how things were organized,” Castles said. “We really just want to stay compatible with other shops. It seems when people get out to thrift shops, they want to just hit ‘em all at once.”
Sammie’s Friends spayed or neutered more than 1,500 dogs and cats and spent more than $320,000 on medical care alone for pets in Nevada County in 2011. In addition to operating the Nevada County Animal Shelter (which has placed more than 3,800 animals since 2010), the organization runs a program helping injured animals, in order to make them more “adoptable.”
Sammie’s Friends takes part in numerous smaller fundraising programs, but unlike other nonprofits, lacks one significant drive or event.
“This is going to be the big one,” Castles said. “Everyone’s always said Sammie’s needs a thrift shop, and it’d always been at the back of my mind, and then after the convention I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ Everyone seems to be very excited. I think it will do well.”
Castles and a group of Sammie’s volunteers will help run the store, but Castles hopes to eventually hire a full-time manager.
Katrina Paz is a freelance writer in Grass Valley.