Corrales thrift store that funds animal rescue needs saving

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Volunteer Carron Hardin, left, and store worker Gabby Ruth at work at Secondhand Treasures in Corrales. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” Ruth said. The store may close, but “it’s not a bankrupt business”. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

CORRALES – LouAnn Jordan recalls the time a man walked into Secondhand Treasures, the Corrales Road thrift store, and discovered a didgeridoo, an Australian Aboriginal wind instrument played by vibrating the lips to produce a strange drone , almost from another world.

“The gentleman knew how to play those horns,” said Jordan, a thrift store volunteer. “He played it, then he turned around and bought it.”

So what are the chances that a Corrales customer knows how to play an exotic instrument from Down Under?

It does not matter. What are the chances that a store in Corrales has such an instrument among its merchandise?

At Secondhand Treasures, where you can buy everything from an antique deviled egg tray to a brightly painted papier-mâché duck, the odds might be better than you think.

“You’re journeying through a little treasure you didn’t know you needed – scarves, handbags, shirts and dresses,” said dedicated customer Debbie Haycraft. “I love the jewelry table that makes cute little gifts because (the jewelry) is so reasonably priced.”

Items sold at the store are donated by the public.

Store volunteer Carron Hardin said her husband had made a rule that if she bought anything at the store, she had to give something to him. She doesn’t pay attention to the rule.

“But when it comes to donations, if you’re into sustainability, like we all have to be, instead of the landfill, you can take things to this store, a place where somebody walks in and it’s best thing they’ve ever seen,” Hardin said. “And in the end, 100% of the proceeds go to animals in need, and that really breaks my heart.”

Secondhand Treasures, open noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, is operated by Southwest Animal Rescue Fund Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help animals, primarily dogs, in need.

“Anything that helps animals is worthwhile. It’s the right thing to do,” Haycraft said. “There are always people in this store. There is usually a rescue dog running around or behind the counter. I am disappointed that they are not open every day.

The fact is, however, that Secondhand Treasures might not be open for much longer.

great resource

Nancy Baumgardner, president of the Southwest Animal Rescue Fund and director of Secondhand Treasures, sits among the store’s eclectic, often stylish, sometimes eccentric inventory. Usually, it’s a cheerful setting that buzzes with a positive vibe.

But that day, Baumgardner is disturbed by the noise made by men putting up a sign in the parking lot of the store. The sign indicates that the property is for sale.

The owners are selling the building and the land it sits on for more than SWARF, which leases the space, can afford to pay.

“It’s pretty much inevitable that we have to shut down,” Baumgardner said. “We looked at every property up and down Corrales Road and found nothing.” She said the company needed a site of at least 3,000 square feet.

The building that now houses it, the original site of the Frontier Mart community grocery store and later the Bunkhouse furniture company, measures 3,500 square feet.

“We want to stay in Corrales,” Baumgardner said. “It’s a destination area. We get regular visitors during the Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque International).”

But it is also a central point of the village.

“It’s a place where anyone can donate their stuff, a place where people can meet friends and neighbors,” she said.

Customer Abby Dix buys glassware, “beautiful tableware” and horse gear from Secondhand Treasures.

“It’s not like a normal thrift store,” Dix said. “It’s really high quality. Everyone is nice and they seem to know you. The store is really well organized and stocked. I donate to it every time I move or clean the house – tables, chairs, books, household items. It’s a great resource for people and a wonderful thing for dogs.

“Here is the plan”

Secondhand Treasures has been in business, still in its current location, for over 11 years. The store was closed for nearly 14 months at the height of the pandemic, but despite that, it funneled half a million dollars in payments for vet bills, food, boarding, transportation, rehabilitation, training and sterilization procedures, Baumgardner said.

“Until the last few years (SWARF) has done a lot of direct rescue, like removing dogs from high-mortality shelters around New Mexico, nurturing them until they’re physically and mentally ready for adoption. and find homes for them,” she said. . “But it’s such emotionally and physically draining, heartbreaking work.”

Now, the organization is focused on funding other New Mexico animal rescue and assistance organizations, such as NMDOGS, OSCAR Foundation, Argos, and Spay-Neuter Coalition of New Mexico.

Baumgardner said SWARF has donated funds to international groups engaged in rescuing war animals in Ukraine and provided assistance to those helping animals affected by wildfires in New Mexico. SWARF also maintains a sanctuary for elderly, sick, injured and other animals that are not adoptable.

Even if Secondhand Treasures closes, Baumgardner said the rescue fund will continue its work.

“We have some money in the bank,” she said. ” Here is the plan. We will have one week sales at reduced prices, but not promotional prices. We will donate a lot (goods) to the OSCAR Foundation. Then we’ll store the rest at my house and have garage sales, maybe online sales.

But it won’t be the same.

short moment

Beth Quinn, a retired K-8 teacher from Albuquerque Public Schools, is in charge of the used book section at Secondhand Treasures.

“You walk in here and you’re in this cabin full of goods,” she said. “I try not to bring something home every day. Books are my baby. Mostly (I buy) books; a few works of art, small watercolors; and small wooden boxes because everyone needs wooden crates.

“Volunteers are full of energy and outgoing. Everyone gets along. It’s the kind of place you can’t wait to go.

Volunteer Jordan first became involved with SWARF when she asked for his help in rescuing a dog from a small town animal shelter. Now she owns the dog whose rescue she initiated and once a week she drives the 80 mile, one and a quarter hour drive from San Acacia in Socorro County to work at the store.

“It’s a great group of women, all of us wanting to help animals, all of us here for the animals,” she said of the store’s volunteers.

The half-dozen volunteers are between 60 and 70 years old.

But Gabby Ruth, the only paid employee of Secondhand Treasure, is 30 years old. Due to the uncertain future of the store, she is looking for another job, but she does not want to leave the thrift store.

“Working there was honestly the best job I’ve ever had,” Ruth said. “Everyone knows each other and helps each other. It’s good to see where the profits go. It’s a warm atmosphere. »

Ruth said the stores’ customers range in age from young teenagers to older adults.

“We have a Christmas corner – decorations, mugs, nutcrackers – sold all year round. We have rocks – mica, petrified wood with copper, banite, fluorite. Someone came here one day and bought $600 worth of stones.

She paused as she looked around the store she had known for years but changed daily. She still holds out hope that another property will become available in Corrales, but she realizes that time is running out on this site.

“It’s sad because it’s not a bankrupt company,” she said. “It’s a really successful business and people love it. But we have to go.

UpFront is the Journal’s front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Ollie Reed at 505-823-3916 or [email protected]

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