COLARS struggles to keep Open Hearts Thrift Store operating

The Open Hearts Thrift Store, located at 202 Main Street in Arcadia, is operated by the non-profit Circle of Life Animal Rescue Society (COLARS). For years the store has depended upon the donation of items to resell, the proceeds of which help the organization with its animal welfare projects.  Sales have inexplicably dropped off, leading to uncertainty about the future of the store and the organization.

The volunteers who make up Iron County’s non-profit Circle of Life Animal Rescue Society (COLARS) are bewildered - donations to the thrift store operated by the organization to pay for its popular spay and neuter program - have dropped off dramatically.  So dramatically, in fact, the future of the store and the organization is uncertain.

“We are losing funds,” said a worried Norma Ferguson. “We don’t have much daily income, like we did.  It has dropped off.

“Now, I panic when it comes to the end of the month,” she added, “because I’m not sure I can pay the veterinarian bill.”

Norma, along with Amy Patterson and Susan Degonia, are the core of COLARS.  For the past decade, people have cleaned out their closets and donated usable items to “Open Hearts Thrift Shop” in Arcadia, knowing that the proceeds for the sale of those items would be used for the welfare of local pets.

Ferguson said it has been suggested to her that donations are now being sold on social media by individuals rather that donated.

“We haven’t changed anything,” she said. “In fact, we’ve got the lowest prices of any thrift store I’ve been in. A lot of people aren’t aware of that.”

You could buy a shirt for as little as 50 cents, she added.

The proceeds of the store are used to provide vouchers to help local people with the cost of spaying and neutering their pets. The vouchers reduce the cost of the procedure by about 50 percent.

Over the past decade over 4,500 pet owners have taken advantage of the program.

However, with business down at the shop, the program cannot be maintained.

“If we can’t make a daily income we are going to close,” Norma said. “We are going to try for the rest of the month to turn it around.”

That largely means getting the word out about the situation so people are aware and can offer support in the form of donated items to sell and, of course, make purchases there.

In the meantime, the requests for vouchers have stayed at the same level they always have been.

The store is located at 202 Main Street in Arcadia. The store opens at 10 a.m. every day except Mondays.