The women who run the Critter Outfitter, located inside the on Bradshaw Road, love animals. Their eyes light up when they see another dog or cat leave the building with a new home. When they saw a dark brown puppy in the arms of her new owner, one volunteer couldn’t resist, taking a pink coat from the rack outside the store and putting it on the happy pup.
The store is run by volunteers from Teaching Everyone Animals Matter (TEAM), a 13-year-old nonprofit organization that helps raise money for the shelter. Managed by TEAM’s founder and chair Patricia Wilcox, the store has been open since December 2009 and has raised nearly $20,000 while selling leashes, treats, toys and other supplies that the new pet owners need.
Critter Outfitter is just inside the entrance to the shelter and is open Wednesday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4:30 p.m.
Tell me a little bit about the store.
“We’ve been open for just a little over a year. We were open on December of 2009, so we ran the store all of last year and … we’ve done very well. We’ve had a lot of donations; people come in and make things for us. This lady comes in and makes these hats and scarves and sells them in sets. And they don’t charge us anything, so it’s 100 percent profit. And then we have a lot of other merchandise, some on consignment, and then we have regular merchandise. We have a consigner that makes these really fancy leather collars. We have a lady who makes animal-themed jewelry for us and then we have really upscale ID tags. And our biggest seller, of course, because we’re in the middle of an animal shelter, is collars and leashes. That’s our biggest seller.”
What is the money raised from sales used for?
“The money goes to special medical needs for the shelter animals here; it goes to training, things that we need to train volunteers. The primary thing is special medical needs of shelter animals. Sometimes, the veterinarian, who is mostly involved with doing spay/neuters–and we have a wonderful veterinarian here–he’s very busy altering animals—they have to be altered before they’re adopted—and he sometimes isn’t able or doesn’t have the proper equipment to do specialized medical care. UC Davis does some help with that kind of thing, but one of the things the store does is bring in money so if there is some special medical care. We always have billing for special medical care.”
Why did you decide to start TEAM?
“I was at the time the director of the department and it just seemed that we needed to be doing better for shelter animals. We were an old, old, ugly 40-year-old shelter and I put together a volunteer program, I put together an animal rescue program and we put together the non-profit. It’s been very successful.”
Do you have loyal customers?
“Yes, we do. We have a lot of people come back. We have people who—we have a really wonderful dog park out front—and people from the dog park will come in and buy things for their animals. We have lots of dedicated animal lovers in the Sacramento area, as I’m sure you’re well aware, and a lot of those people shop here because they want to support shelter animals.”
What makes this store special? What sets it apart for other pet stores?
“The primary thing we do at this store is enhance the experience that people coming in to adopt animals have, because we’re helping them take home the things that they need to get set up with their animals set up in their new home. So I think it’s an enhanced experience for the adopters.”