I walked into a large room at the Humane Society of Catawba County at 3224 20th Ave. SE, Hickory, and was struck by all the items spread about on a good-sized conference table.
There were dozens of really cute Halloween-themed gift baskets for dogs and cats as well as all sorts of home décor, jewelry, and pet supplies on other tables, the floor, and on big shelves against one wall. It looked like a well-organized thrift shop for humans and pets, and in a way, that’s what it was.
HSCC’s director of marketing Alicia Blackburn cleared a space on the conference table for me to take notes, and then she and HSCC executive director Jane Bowers settled themselves in chairs nearby. I was there to hear about the organization’s Live Sale, a name that brought to my mind images of stock sales. I envisioned kittens and pups being carried one by one onto a platform where they were sold to the highest bidders.
Nope, that’s not what HSCC’s Live Sale is at all.
I contacted Alicia at the urging of a couple of people who are among Catawba County’s many generous supporters of compassionate organizations that care for homeless pets, oversee adoptions, and support pet owners in a variety of ways, such as less expensive spaying, neutering, wellness checks, testing, and vaccinations. They are Jeff and Elizabeth Jackson of Conover.
They wrote that they’d been cleaning out two houses after the deaths of some family members and were trying to decide what to do with all the stuff when they “stumbled across a post on Facebook about a ‘Live Sale’ for the Humane Society of Catawba County,” they explained, saying they then watched a video of a previous Live Sale. “It’s basically a live yard sale on Facebook,” they shared. “The team at the Humane Society that conducts the sale is hilarious.”
Once acquainted with HSCC’s clever fundraising tactic, the Jacksons donated items from the homes they’d cleaned out. “To help the Humane Society raise money for the animals, since (HSCC has not) been able to hold their normal fundraisers,” said the couple.
As the Jacksons pointed out in their email, HSCC sells priced items as well as conducts auctions. Among the most popular stuff for sale are Jane’s creations. She fills little containers with seasonal products for cats and dogs. There also is a good quantity of reduced-priced pet food for sale, which benefits not only HSCC’s animals but also community pet owners and their furry friends. As Jane and Alicia pointed out, there are people who love their cats and dogs but have trouble paying for their food. There are seasonal T-shirts, and, of course, many donated items. “A wild assortment of things,” said Alicia. “Nothing’s too wild.” Well, there is the nothing-risqué rule and no clothing or shoes, please.
Since starting the Live Sales, the show’s following has grown weekly. Alicia said 60 to 75 people stay online with the Live Sale team for two to three hours every Thursday starting at 2 p.m. “It’s a very ambitious show,” said Alicia. “We go until we sell everything in the room or run out of time.”
While Alicia, Jane, and I talked, two women entered the room to collect the things they’d bought during a recent Live Sale. They looked for their names on tickets that had been affixed to bags and boxes and then loaded their purchases into a grocery cart. I’d say they are some of Live Sale’s best customers.
“This evolved (in) the middle of (2020) when we realized we couldn’t do events,” said Jane, referring to gatherings of supporters at fundraising dinners and sporting events, etc.
Alicia suggested to Jane that they go online to sell all the donated objects HSCC had been storing. Live Sale began in July 2020. Jane said she’d assumed the show’s popularity would fizzle out when people were able to get out of their homes again, “but it’s just grown stronger and stronger,” Jane reported.
The uptick of donations of goods and pet food as well as the public’s growing desire to buy from HSCC has prompted the organization to find a larger space, one where folks can come in and shop. The thrift store will be on East First Street on the Court Square in downtown Newton. Its anticipated opening is early 2022. At that time, Live Sale will increase to two shows per week. Days and hours of operation haven’t been determined. Keep checking HSCC’s Facebook page for more details.
So why is Live Sale so popular? Alicia thinks it’s because they’re “providing a service to pets and their people.” Others might say it’s just fun to watch. People like to watch TV — their computers in this case, and they like to buy things — the same reasons TV home shopping shows are successful. Even better, Live Sale’s proceeds benefit animals.
People might wonder why HSCC sells donated pet food. Jane explained that the facility has a full-time veterinarian, Dr. Kimberly Ball, “and she has all the animals on Purina One — a controlled diet, which benefits their health while they’re here.” HSCC greatly appreciates all donations, including pet food, because they can sell it and then buy exactly what the HSCC animals need. The organization also stocks a pet food pantry for pet owners who can’t afford even reduced-price food. “If we help pet owners by providing food, the animals can stay in that environment,” Jane pointed out.
If a person really wants to donate food and supplies that the shelter actually uses, there’s an Amazon wish list on HSCC’s website at catawbahumane.org. Easy peasy.
Thursdays aren’t the only days to check out HSCC’s Facebook page. As the Jacksons noted, “On Wednesdays, the team is live on Facebook featuring dogs and cats of the week, along with a few other animals that may be overlooked by people interested in adopting. The team shares the personalities of the animals and any other information they may know about the animals’ histories.”
Alicia said that because the Wednesday shows are live, viewers can ask questions “in real time.”
So there you have it. Of course, more details about both shows can be found on the shelter’s website, and if you want to donate stuff because you’re cleaning out a house or just doing a little decluttering, email email@example.com. If you’ve got something big to offer, she’ll arrange pick-up service.
Don’t forget: Live Sale, HSCC Facebook page, Thursdays at 2.
Share story ideas with Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.