January 2012

January 2012: Charity Corner - Save A Buck, Save A Pet: Palmetto Animal League Thrift Finds New Home

Author: David Tobias

The newly opened Palmetto Animal League Thrift—formerly Animal House Thrift—now located in Sheridan Park facing Highway 278, may finally be in the perfect place to generate much welcomed revenues for the Palmetto Animal League (PAL), an animal adoption center that has enjoyed enthusiastic support from the Bluffton regional community for 35 years. The newest location is the fourth in six years, but this one feels right to Amy Campanini, who was a volunteer when the shop first opened in 2005, on the second floor of a furniture store near Moss Creek. By the time it moved a second time two years later, Campanini was executive director of PAL and, after a brief stop in an office complex off highway 46, it appears to have landed softly and profitably in its fourth and final home.

“I sure don’t want to pack any more boxes and move it again,” Campanini said. “We moved a lot of stuff.”

At nearly 4,300 square feet, the new space is about 2,000 square feet smaller, but decidedly more high profile than the last. Although the League advertises in print and on radio, this new location even allows for a sort of rolling billboard presence in the form of a large delivery truck, recently donated by Energy One America. The truck is painted with a menagerie of pets and parked along the front edge of the center at an obvious angle to Highway 278 to help draw shoppers and merchandise donors.

The new truck and the new location combined thrust PAL into the thrift store business in a bigger way than before. The truck allows volunteers to pick up large ticket items like furniture, and the location puts the shop in the heart of the thrift store circuit that stretches along and back from Highway 278. Already, since the shop’s grand opening in October, monthly sales have exceeded last year’s numbers by almost double.

The concept of applying thrift shop proceeds to a good cause is not new. The Litter Box benefits the Hilton Head Island Humane Society; Cancer Thrift of the Lowcounty contributes to the American Cancer Society and on and on. However, the notion that a wide selection of thrift stores concentrated in a relatively small geographic area is beneficial to all is a recent revelation.

Cathy Thurnau, who manages the shop (her first foray into the thrift store business after 30 years in retail), says that all the stores seem to do well because shoppers shop. “We have customers who buy to re-sell; we have customers who buy to stock their own shops, locally and from other states; and we have visitors who just love being able to shop our store, go next door and then around the corner for more,” she said. “On the norm, people will shop several, but we also have customers who really want to support the animals, so it just depends. Of course the prices are good and the quality of the goods is just excellent, thanks to our wonderful donors.”

Between donors and volunteers (nearly 300 of them in all), the true beneficiaries are the cats, dogs and the occasional ferret that call the Animal Adoption Center in the Riverwalk Center off Highway 170 their transitional home. The center, which celebrated its first anniversary in December, can accommodate somewhere between 100-120 animals at any given time.

According to Campanini, about 25 percent of the revenue to support the center is generated by the thrift store, but she believes there’s room for further growth. “A lot of effort went into creating an experience in the store that will bring a variety of different shoppers and donors back,” she said. “We have quality merchandise and great prices, but best of all, everything there benefits what happens under the roof of the adoption center building. It’s a great fresh start, but we’ll always need donors and volunteers and, of course, shoppers. Now, more than ever, we love our shoppers.”

Located at 1 Sherington Dr., Suite B, Sheridan Park, in Bluffton. Hours of operation are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, visit palmettoanimalleague.org or call (843) 837-6369.

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