The Transylvania Times -

Humane Society Closing Its Doors

 

Last updated 9/10/2021 at 9:54pm



After 30 years, the Transylvania County Humane Society Thrift Shop, located on East Main Street in Brevard, will close in the coming weeks, as financial shortfalls and a lack of volunteers have forced the operation to shut its doors.

The shop has long been a popular spot for people to find clothes, books and home furnishings on a bargain, while also drawing in people of all ages to come and pet the cats and kittens on display for adoption.

Torry Deane Wickwire has been involved with the Humane Society since 1993 and currently serves as president and treasurer of the organization.

Wickwire said there was a confluence of factors that led to the decision to close the shop, but it ultimately came down to financial prudence.

“With the thrift shop, we have the basic costs of running a small business but we’re not in the business to make a profit, we’re in the business to earn money for our program,” Wickwire said. “With the rising costs of everything, including supplies, with fewer people coming in, four months of shutdown didn’t help, and the costs of emergency vet care –– which are also increasing –– we were not earning enough money at the shop to cover all our costs and it just became too much.”

Getting people to help out at the shop hasn’t been easy either.

The job is minimum wage with no benefits and isn’t as simple as petting cats all day – rather, it often requires hours of physical labor to do inventory intake and rearrange items in the store.

The COVID-19 pandemic also took a toll.

Closing down the shop meant months without any income and, personally, Wickwire said she had several workers who lost family members to the virus.

“It’s been a horrible struggle. The pandemic was a killer, and I didn’t see any way of regaining a financial foothold. It’s been a very grim year-and-a-half,” she said.

To get a sense of the scope of the financial loss, Wickwire said between January and June of this year, the shop lost $20,000, and she was projecting end-of-the-year losses to be between $40,000-$50,000.

After consulting with her fellow board members, Wickwire said it was clear that closing the shop was the only thing to do.

The immediate goal for the organization is to save what money it can continue to pursue its mission of helping animals in need of adoption or medical assistance.

“We do have money in reserve, but I don’t want to spend that because then the next generation of volunteers would be up the creek without a paddle if I bled all the money off,” Wickwire said.

As for the cats currently housed at the shop, two mama cats and four kittens have already been adopted. There is a pair of brother cats looking to be placed together, as well as a 10-year-old seal point Siamese named Bella, who is also looking for a home.

The shop will remain open through the day before Thanksgiving and must completely vacate the building by Christmas Eve. It’s a bit of an everything-must-go sit-uation, as Wickwire said she’s looking to move the shop’s entire inventory, as well as all the display racks, shelving and furniture.

Nonprofits in the area are welcome to come and take anything they might need free of charge. Members of the public are also invited to take anything they find at a sale price.

TAAG (Transylvania Animal Alliance Group) has already taken some of the shop’s cat crates, and Wickwire said the goal is for nothing to go to waste.

While the thrift shop is closing, the Humane Society will continue to operate as a 501(c)3, and Wickwire said if the organization’s financial standing improves in the future, another shop/shelter could be opened.

In the meantime, over the next few weeks the shop will be placing different categories of items on sale for 50% off. The sale will continue until the shop closes.

It’s not easy saying goodbye for Wickwire, who has worked at the shop for nearly 30 years.

Her hope, she said, is for a new group of people to take over the mantle and get more involved in the Humane Society – an organization that she’s given everything she had to during her tenure.

“I’m very sorry to see it go,” she said. “I’ve been running the book shop since 1994… I hope that this will spur a new generation of volunteers to step forward and take control of the operations. I’m basically tapped out on how much longer I can work. People think it’s not much work to volunteer, but it is.”

Cash donations may be dropped off at the shop until Nov. 24 and checks can be mailed to Transylvania Humane Society, P.O. Box 1288, Pisgah Forest, N.C., 28768, to fund future vet care for animals.

For those in need of emergency vet care, call (828) 862-4683.

The shop’s temporary hours will be Wednesday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

 
 

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