A store tied to a nonprofit welcomes both customers and adopters.
STORY BY PAMELA MITCHELL
Dr. Gary Michelson wants every pet to have a home, and for any dog or cat who gets lost to find their way back. To achieve these goals, the surgeon, inventor and philanthropist created Michelson Found Animals Foundation.
The nonprofit organization funds spay-neuter research and services, and provides affordable microchips and scanners to shelters and clinics, as well as a free registry. It also operates Michelson Found Animals Adopt & Shop, with the Culver City, CA, location winning second place in this year’s PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores Contest.
In her role as foundation executive director, Aimee Gilbreath helped conceive the multipurpose store, which offers dog and cat adoption, supplies, daycare and grooming.
“A lot of people fear that a shelter will be loud or sad or overwhelming, so they might be interested in adopting, but are worried about the experience and don’t go,” she says. “We bring adoptable pets to people in an environment that we can assure will be positive.”
Oversized dogs and cats cover the building’s exterior, thanks to famed muralist David Flores. Inside, teal and yellow mix with walnut and stainless steel to create a bright, welcoming atmosphere.
Products and services support the health and happiness of pets — no matter where they come from — to set them and their families up for success.
HEALTHY FOODS, TIDY LITTER
Adopters will find all of the supplies needed to start life with their new dog or cat. Gilbreath and her staff carefully curate for the 2,500 square feet of retail space in Culver City.
“We only carry high-quality foods because we know how important that is for an animal’s health,” she says, pointing to Zignature and Stella & Chewy’s as two of the available options. Too often, pets find themselves surrendered because of costly health issues that could have been prevented or managed with diet.
Products stocked at Adopt & Shop must also make care easier for owners. Two such examples: the virtually dust-free World’s Best Cat Litter paired with a top-entry litter box.
“Cats jump in and jump out. They don’t track as much litter out, keeping the area clean for everyone,” Gilbreath says.
Toys from the likes of Planet Dog, collars and leashes from Lupine, and a variety of other smartly designed items attract pet parents, in general, who appreciate the thoughtfulness of offerings.
SERVICES FOR ALL
Adopt & Shop welcomes all types of dogs, both to become adoptable pets — the organization pulls from area shelters — and to enroll in daycare. This approach makes the latter quite popular.
“We’re an animal-welfare organization. There is no breed or size discrimination in our daycare,” Gilbreath says, pointing out that because staff have such varied experience, word of mouth draws pups who may not fit in elsewhere. “We have a bit more tolerance for sass.”
Dogs go through an assessment before being grouped by size and compatibility. Because those awaiting adoption may have medical or other issues requiring special care, they have their own play and grooming areas with separate air-handling systems and staff.
The same goes for cats at the store, with adoptable pets kept separate from those visiting for a groom. While many groomers do not specialize in cats, Gilbreath sees it as yet another way to support their health and happiness. Discounted microchipping and vaccinations also are available.
CHARITABLE AND BUSINESS SUCCESS
In 2017, approximately 2,500 pets found new homes through Adopt & Shop in Culver City. At any given time, 25 to 35 dogs and 20 to 40 cats live there. The organization also has a robust foster program.
All adoption fees and income go toward operating the multi-purpose store, with the foundation helping as needed.
“From a financial standpoint, our adoption fees alone do not cover the total cost of care, so our retail products and services are critical to the business model and to helping us to save more pets,” Michelson says.
Gilbreath adds, “Our sales are up 20 percent from last year. We’re excited about that.”
PHOTO GALLERY (14 IMAGES)