Photo by Martin van den Hemel
A critical community partner has opened a key fundraising tool in cool and familiar surroundings.
Richmond’s Regional Animal Protection Society’s new thrift store will support the ongoing operations of its new animal hospital. It opened late last month in the former home of Danny’s Market—once famous for its cool Screamers, a slushy/soft ice cream concoction—at 9040 Francis Rd., at the corner of Garden City. The new store is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Eyal Lichtmann, the society’s executive director, told The Richmond Sentinel it was a bit of a financial gamble opening the new thrift store. But when this location became available, he pounced on the opportunity.
It’s proven to be a wise decision, according to Karen Kamachi, the volunteer manager who sees her work at the thrift store as a true labour of love.
Since its soft-opening on July 28, donations have been pouring in, and business has been booming, they said.
“Within one week of opening, we’re overflowing with donations,” Lichtmann said outside the store, which saw a steady stream of customers on an early Friday afternoon.
Every dollar spent at the thrift store will help subsidize pet healthcare services at the society’s hospital—located at the Richmond Auto Mall—and thus keep those pet healthcare fees much more affordable for locals, Lichtmann said.
The new thrift store is celebrating its official grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 18, with every item in the store selling for half price.
The massive sale, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will encompass the entire parking lot outside, which means locals are virtually guaranteed to find a good deal on everything from clothing to household goods, electronics and furniture.
“We’re going to have a barbecue, we’re going to have an art sale in the parking lot, so come one, come all,” Kamachi said.
The society has received “thousands of items” which have been held back until the Aug. 18 sale, Lichtmann said.
While many of the items in the thrift store are used, he noted some are brand new.
But having a large inventory of goods is only a part of the equation. It’s the volunteers who are crucial to the society’s ongoing work.
To maintain an animal advocacy organization requires a lot of fundraising throughout the year and that means help from many people, he said.
“Our biggest cost, of course, is staffing to run all of the different programs that we run,” he said.
The society saves about 2,000 animals per year, he said, and through its animal food bank helps people living in low-income housing to feed their pets.
There are homeless people, he said, who turn to the society for help when their pet becomes ill.
“The only love in their life is the animal, and those animals need healthcare, so we’re subsidizing all of that for the community.”
Then there’s the society’s cat sanctuary—the only one of its kind in Canada—which is home to some 500 cats.
“We’re able to keep our 100 per cent no-kill commitment to the community for unadoptable cats by letting them live out their life at the cat sanctuary,” he said. “We’re the only animal organization in Canada that does that.”
Kamachi urged anyone searching for volunteer experience to sign up at the thrift store.
The society hasn’t had trouble recruiting volunteers, Lichtmann said.
“The cause itself is attracting people. But on top of that, it’s the atmosphere (Kamachi) has created here… (It) is one of pure fun,” he said.
At the cat sanctuary alone, he said, there are some 300 volunteers signed up. Overall, there are some 600 volunteers who work for the society.
The society continues to operate a thrift store at 8260 Granville Ave., but the new spot is much larger and can accommodate home furnishings, which are a big seller.