Wags to Riches, a thrift store being run by the The Humane Society of Washington County, has opened in Burlington Park off of West Walnut Street.
“It’s kind of been a vision,” said Lucinda Grandy, president of the Humane Society of Washington County. “We don’t get any help from local government, city or the county. We’re not affiliated with any national organization. It’s generally done through fundraising, grants and some generous donors that we have. This is another way to supplement.”
Proceeds from the store will go to help fund the Humane Society’s programs, which include finding foster and permanent homes for dogs and cats as well as spaying and neutering.
“Right now, low-income spay and neuter is only offered in Washington County,” Grandy said. “We want to be able to branch out and offer that in other areas. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we can bring in enough money through this thrift store that we could help spay and neuter the animals at the shelter too?”
The store, which covers 3,000 square feet, doesn’t have the feel of many thrift stores. The merchandise appears a little more high-end, although the prices definitely say “thrift store.”
“We had a generous donor step in to help with the rent for a few months and we’re ready to rock and roll,” Grandy said. “Our community is just so generous. We’re blessed to live in a community that’s so giving.”
Grandy said she’d like to see the store pull in $4,000-$6,000 per month.
“It’s a matter of getting people in here to shop, having people bring their stuff in here,” she said. “Nice stuff, because we wanted this to be a little different than your average thrift store. It’s still a thrift store and it’s very affordable. It just looks a little different.”
Any dollars spent in the store — or items donated to it — will have a wide-ranging effect as the local Humane Society covers a large area, despite having Washington County in its name.
“We do owner-surrenders in Greene County, Unicoi County, even in North Carolina and Virginia,“ Grandy said. “Obviously, with that many animals coming in, our foster-based organizations needs some funds.
“Our adoption fees are more than what you’ll find at an animal shelter, but they’re fully vetted when they come through us. They’ve had all their shots, they’re microchipped, they’ve started on heart-worm preventative if they’re old enough. Some have even already started their house training. We work with some local organizations, too, like GymDog.”
The store has been open for a couple of weeks and had a grand-opening event which brought in $500 in sales in addition to some cash donations.
“We’ve been talking about this for a year,” Grandy said. “We’re so excited to get this going.”