The Wallowa County Humane Society is moving to new digs in the EM&M building at 117 East Main Street, just north of the Wallowa County Courthouse. They plan to open a thrift shop and eventually, a dog wash. The space will also accommodate their offices and a spiffy new cat room where adoptable kitties can stay overnight, providing plenty of space for their future families to get acquainted. The Humane Society hopes to be open, up, and running by October 1.
The space previously housed Belle Salon.
“Everybody’s excited about this move,” said Carol Vencill, Wallowa County Humane Society president. “This is another big step toward the sanctuary that we want to have eventually. And we hope to bring something back to businesses, bringing more people into downtown and helping any way we can.“
The Humane Society was being forced to move from their present location on North River Street because their building was scheduled for renovation by owner Michelle Star. WCHS was scheduled to move into a slightly smaller space, also owned by Star, with access from the alley behind El Bajio.
“If we moved into the smaller space that she had available, we thought we might lose our kitty room”, Vencill said. “Michelle found a way that we could have a separate space for cats during the day. Michelle has been really good to us, and very helpful. So we were going to move there and be happy.”
But then one of the WCHS volunteers noticed that the Belle Salon space would be available. “We came and saw the space and thought if we were going to take a bigger step, this would be the way to go,” Vencill said.
It was an opportune moment. Second Best was closing its doors, and the idea of running a thrift shop in the larger space on Main Street was appealing to the Humane Society board of directors.
“I felt that two thrift stores in Enterprise (Second Best and Soropimist) were enough, and so we did not try to open a thrift shop in the past. Now that Second Best is closing, there is need for that second thrift store,” Vencill said. The Humane Society plans to work with Soroptimist, rather than compete with them. “We want to be working with the Soroptimist as best as we can,” Vencill said. That may mean being open different days, specializing in slightly different kinds of merchandise, or other things. “This is so new, that we haven’t had a chance to talk with them,” Vencill noted.
Second Best owner Larry Bowen has supported the Humane Society’s desire to carry on the thrift shop tradition. It makes sense, because Bowen’s mother operated a thrift store in the very same place as the Humane Society’s new shop back in 1978.
He sold his entire inventory of 17 clothing racks and multiple shelves to them for $450, and included two big bookcases, two little bookcases, a dressing room with three mirrors, his credit card machine and his store’s front counter in the deal.
“Larry has been really, really helpful in all this,” Vencill said.
Although they have all the pieces and parts of a bright future, there’s a lot of work ahead for WCHS.
“We have a lot to juggle. We have to figure out where to put things, how to balance the store with everything else. We know where the cat room will go. We have permission and the plumbing to put in a dog wash, but that will be in the future once we get everything else figured out.”
None of Second Best’s inventory—clothes, furniture, kitchenware, etc. — came along with the shelves, racks and other things. So the Wallowa County Humane Society needs donated merchandise: clothing and other things to occupy those 17 racks and multiple shelves and sell. For now, donations will be accepted on a limited basis by calling the Wallowa County Humane Society at 541-263-0336.