By Chantel Belisle
CALGARY – At the end of July, Sue Ghebari opened the doors of 17thAve Thrift after working in the supermarket world for 34 years. Ghebari, and a business partner at the time who had extensive thrift shop experience, sparked an idea of combining thrifting with charity. Although Ghebari dreamed of opening her own animal shelter, the task was overwhelming for her alone. By opening a thrift store, she could create a new rewarding business and also direct some funding towards rescue operations for animals. It was a start-up that came surprisingly easily.
“It was just incredible how everything just seemed to work out without really trying,” Ghebari says. “From start to finish we were up and running within two months. That included the renovation of our space, which was a complete mess when we moved in. Glass was everywhere, the carpet was damaged from water and you could smell the mildew. Everything had to be torn out and we had to start fresh.”
Many animal shelters struggle with boarding fees, health costs, training fees, and basic necessities. With a limited number of foster families available to take in these animals, shelters are stuck with racking up kenneling fees which is a huge concern along with the vet bills. Knowing that some large charities have turned into a profiting, self-satisfying business, Ghebari ensures that her business never loses sight of what’s most important.
“We focus mostly on the underfunded shelters out there such as ARF, the Meow Foundation, the Alice Sanctuary and Robin’s Refuge, which is a one woman show. I’ve met her and she is a fantastic lady and she does it all on her own with support from the public.”
The surrounding neighbourhood is Killarney, which is incredibly dog-friendly. Since opening, Ghebari noticed how welcoming the community has been, often bringing car loads of items to donate and expressing their desire to support shelters.
“Throughout the renovations we put up a sign in the window saying ‘Opening Soon’ and everyday you would see people walk by and look in. When we were finally open, we’d get a lot of ‘Oh, I’ve been waiting for you to open!’”
The store allows furry little friends to come in and shop with their owners, and may even get a special treat at the counter.
“We have had the best response from people, there are so many animal lovers in our city. The people have been incredibly supportive and welcoming. People are more than happy to donate perfectly wonderful items, new items, and they are so excited to do it! Calgarians are just so giving,” says Ghebari gratefully.
17th Ave Thrift Store is located at 2631- 17 Ave SW. While they accept a wide range of donations, they do not take furniture. However, you’re more than welcome to bring your dog for a visit.17th Ave Thrift, Animal Shelters, charity