Story by Jennifer Linn | Photography by Scott Rogers
Amid rooms of clothing, furniture, household goods and other items, volunteers are doing their part to support the homeless animals of Dawson County.
The Dawson County Humane Society Resale Shop and Boutique is staffed entirely by volunteers and funds about a third of the shelter’s budget through sales of donated items at the Dawsonville store.
“We are meeting payroll, we are meeting our expenses,” said Terri Tragesser a volunteer manager at the shop. “We have been able to do some long-needed projects at the campus.”
The shop opened three years ago when the Humane Society was struggling to stay open. It’s been in its current location two years.
At the time, a group of seven women were putting on events to bring in donations.
“We were working very hard but weren’t making a sufficient amount to get us out of our negative cash flow,” Tragesser said. “So we toyed with the idea … we all come from different places where they have really nice, nonprofit resale shops.”
The group then shifted gears and went from focusing on fundraisers to opening the shop.
Tragesser said the group decided to front the money for a year to help the shop take off.
“Within three months, it was starting to pay for itself operationally and we haven’t’ looked back,” she said.
The shop sells most anything imaginable: lamps, furniture, china, dishware, books, clothing for men, women and children, seasonal decorations and linens. All items for sale were donated.
“We go through everything very carefully,” said Debbie McCormick, a volunteer manager. “We are selective because we want things to look nice. We are an upscale boutique and resale shop.”
Donations are tax deductible and can be made during the shop’s business hours, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Volunteers can help unload donations; bigger items can be picked up. Large appliances, such as washers and dryers and electronics, are not accepted.
If donated items don’t meet shop standards, they’re shared with nearby organizations that can use them.
Dawson County provides the Humane Society about a quarter of its budget, $126,000. The shop raises about a third of the budget; grants, private donations and money from adoptions cover the rest.
Many of the animals brought to the shelter are picked up by Animal Control. If an animal isn’t claimed by its owner, it’s examined for health issues, spayed or neutered, socialized and put up for adoption — all of which cost money.
Tragesser said it’s important for the Humane Society to provide these services for lost or abandoned animals because it is the only facility in Dawson County to do so.
“Who’s going to speak for the animals if we don’t?” said Tragesser, who has four cats. “We’re their voice.”
The shop also takes donations of items to be used at the Humane Society, such as dog food or blankets. After an orientation session, volunteers can sign up for four-hour shifts at the shop.
“Our animals are our children,” McCormick said. “A lot of our customers are animal lovers. A lot like the ambiance of the shop.”