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The Humane Society Of North Central Florida Holds Grand Opening For Thrift Boutique

One room is full of clothing, name-brand shoes and purses for shoppers to browse through. (Kassidy Ebrahimi/WUFT News)
One room is full of clothing, name-brand shoes and purses for shoppers to browse through. (Kassidy Ebrahimi/WUFT News)

Doors officially opened Friday for the Humane Society of North Central Florida's Thrift Boutique, offering not only donated high-quality items for pets but the Gainesville community as well.

The eight-room Thrift Boutique is located at 5403 SW Archer Road and welcomes shoppers and pet owners Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Boutique is a branch of The Humane Society’s North Campus Thrift Store.

Director of Advancement for the Humane Society of North Central Florida Margot DeConna came to the grand opening to welcome shoppers after their soft opening last weekend.

DeConna said the organization’s executive director had been hinting at opening a Thrift Boutique for over a year now after deliberating their 2021 budget.

"We decided it was time to pull the trigger and open a thrift boutique," DeConna said. “A lot of our donations came from volunteers and adopters at our soft opening last weekend.”

Each room of the building carried name-brand clothing, jewelry, pet items, housewares, furniture, instruments and various forms of media entertainment.

The Thrift Boutique's building was the former home of Gainesville Pet Rescue, which was open for 25 years at this location.

"We wanted to find a unique purpose-driven use for this facility," DeConna said. "Gainesville Pet Rescue had a history of yard sales here, and we thought we would want to bring that energy and that fundraising opportunity to the southwest side of Gainesville where a lot of our donors live and work."

In 2018, the Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue and Helping Hands Pet Rescue merged to create the Humane Society of North Central Florida, helping to aid their cause.

The merged organization functions as a source for pet adoption and as a neuter and spay center for animals. As an independent nonprofit, funding for their operations relies on their thrift store and boutique earnings grossing roughly $300,000 a year.

DeConna said the Humane Society finds adoptive homes for over 2,500 animals a year.

“We have taken in around 3,000, at this point and we couldn't continue to serve the 21 different countries that we pull at-risk pets from if we didn't have the unrestricted funding that our thrift stores provide," DeConna said.

Thrift stores, along with secondhand boutiques, are a growing industry in the United States.

According to Planet Aid, a nonprofit that collects and upcycles clothes, the resale industry has increased notably over recent years.

Planet Aid claims 40% of 18 to 24-year-olds bought resale items in 2017. There are also more than 25,000 nonprofit resale shops in the United States.

Gainesville resident Heather Stewart, who usually goes to the thrift store on the north campus, came to the boutique’s grand opening to support the Humane Society's cause.

"I usually go to the other one on the other side of town, but once I heard they were opening a boutique here, I wanted to come and support them," said Stewart. "I think they are going to do really well ... a lot of people in this side of town are into recycling and renewing."

Stewart adopted all of her pets from the organization and wants to spread awareness to others to adopt their animals through the Humane Society.

"I think people should come to adopt their animals through them,” she said, “also spaying and neutering their animals here too."

The Thrift Boutique gathered a crowd of supporters for the opening before noon, including community members who came in from Ocala.

Ocala resident Ryan Burns came out with his wife to browse the boutique despite the 35-minute drive.

"I know it is a little far from home, but I think this opening will help the Humane Society's cause with saving animals' lives and giving them a second chance,” Burns said. “As does thrifting does with giving items a second chance to be used in someone else's life.”

Kassidy is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.