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Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Humane Society of North Central Florida to open south campus thrift boutique

The new Thrift Boutique will sell affordable upscale items in southwest Gainesville to support its animal rescue shelter

UF-lecturer Kelly Medley, 35, sifts through racks of used clothes at the Humane Society's new boutique thrift store, located at 5403 Southwest Archer Road on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The boutique store receives some of the local Humane Society's higher-end items, such as designer handbags and vintage musical instruments.
UF-lecturer Kelly Medley, 35, sifts through racks of used clothes at the Humane Society's new boutique thrift store, located at 5403 Southwest Archer Road on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The boutique store receives some of the local Humane Society's higher-end items, such as designer handbags and vintage musical instruments.

From popcorn machines to winter coats, the Humane Society of North Central Florida’s new south campus Thrift Boutique received a wide variety of donations to help support animals in need.

The Thrift Boutique, located at 5403 SW Archer Road, had its soft opening this weekend. Shoppers were able to get a glimpse into the store’s new permanent design and high-end items.   

Its grand opening is this Friday, and the boutique will be open every week, Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Year round, 100% of all sales will go directly towards supporting the Humane Society of North Central Florida, which is a limited intake and no-kill animal rescue shelter. 

The Humane Society of North Central Florida has a north and south campus. Margot DeConna, the organization’s director of advancement, said opening a permanent thrift store in southwest Gainesville is beneficial to community members who live far away from the north campus, located at 4205 NW 6th St.

“We frequently hear from people who want to donate their household items or want to shop with us about how far away our thrift store is if they live in southwest Gainesville or the plantation area,” DeConna said. “We thought opening a thrift boutique and giving our supporters another venue a little closer to home might be a good idea.”

For 25 years, the Thrift Boutique’s location was home to Gainesville Pet Rescue. In 2018, the Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue and Helping Hands Pet Rescue decided to permanently join forces as The Humane Society of North Central Florida. 

Since the alliance was formed, the location serves as a pet adoption center, a resource center and a site for numerous pop-up thrift stores. From January to March of this year, the building was under renovation to equip the store with an upscale and modern boutique environment.

The Humane Society of North Central Florida is an independent, local 501(c)(3) organization. It does not receive funding from federal agencies and is not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Because of this, thrift stores and boutiques are a primary source of funding.

Unlike an average thrift store, the new Thrift Boutique resides in an eight-room house, with each room designated to a specific type of donated merchandise. This includes a room for clothes and accessories, art supplies, musical instruments, kitchenware, children’s toys and entertainment items.

Paola Andrea Suarez, a local artist based in Gainesville, adopted her dog Priya from the Humane Society of North Central Florida in 2018. Alongside helping other pets find a permanent home like Priya, Suarez said she’s excited for the new Thrift Boutique because of its eco-friendly impact.

“I really want to support their efforts to raise money for the animals they rescue and promote up-cycling,” Suarez said. “We are vegan and vegetarians, so thinking about the environmental aspect is important to us.”

Because of the ongoing waste problem in the United States, thrifting has gained recent popularity as a sustainability-centered shopping experience. According to Grow NYC, nearly 200,000 tons of textile items are discarded every year in New York City alone. Across the country, only 15% of used clothing is recycled. 

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According to Habitat for Humanity, buying secondhand items helps the environment by lowering the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, decreasing pollution and conserving energy. Many thrift stores like the Humane Society of North Central Florida’s are also associated with a charity or nonprofit organization that financially benefits from the sales made. 

The north campus’ thrift store brings in a yearly revenue of around $300,000. DeConna said based on past thrifting events, the new Thrift Boutique will help bring in funding for the south campus. 

“Our pop-up thrift store events at that location were very successful, so we're confident that it will serve a need for upscale items at thrift store prices,” DeConna said.

Kelly Medley, a 35-year-old lecturer at UF, currently fosters three kittens from the Humane Society of North Central Florida, who came in severely malnourished and underweight.

“In my shelter volunteer experience, people donate a lot of odd items to animal shelters that can’t be directly used at or by the facility,” Medley wrote in a message. “Instead of the added labor and costs for shelters to re-donate those materials elsewhere, it makes more sense to keep it on-site and offer their own smaller thrift stores.”

Medley said she has bought books, dishware, clothes and office decor from the north campus’ thrift store.

“I really enjoy thrift/second-hand shopping and missed doing it so much during this pandemic, so I’m quite looking forward to the new thrift boutique store!” Medley said. 

More Information about the new Thrift Boutique can be found on the Humane Society of North Central Florida’s website.

Contact Brenna at bsheets@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @BrennaMarieShe1.

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