It was a good day for the Good Shepherd Humane Society when the Berryville Doggie Thrift Shop moved into the old Brashears Barn in August 2011. The cavernous white barn with the squeaky wooden floors offered both the space needed to house large items such as furniture, and the homespun charm to attract a wide variety of shoppers.
Business flourished. That all died shortly after 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28.
When longtime volunteer Barbara Byrd closed the register and locked up the shop that afternoon, she had no idea she was closing for the last time.
Within the hour, a raging fire of undetermined origin burned out of control, destroying the entire building and taking with it around $50,000 in Doggie Shop inventory, as well as all fundraising supplies, banners, canopies, tables, chairs, storage bins, racks, mannequins, hangers, and display cases stored there. A small pile of blackened rubble is all that remains to mark the spot of the once-thriving business that fed the needs of the animals at the shelter.
By now, the fire is old news, but the financial and emotional devastation it wrought will linger for a long time to come. GSHS carried no insurance on the contents of the building -- a rental from Brashears -- so there will be no compensation.
Revenue from the lost Doggie Shop made up approximately one-third of the Humane Society's yearly budget. GSHS, a nonprofit organization, will receive no federal or state funding to help recover its losses.
Unfortunately, the resurrection of the Berryville Doggie Shop falls squarely on the shoulders of the community it faithfully serves.
There are several ways you can help. The need for cash donations is imminent to help recover lost revenue used to operate the shelter and assist with start-up costs for the new store. Cash, checks, and credit/debit card donations are now being accepted at:
* The Eureka Springs Doggie Shop, 124 W. Van Buren
* Brashears Furniture, 500 W. Trimble, in Berryville
* Online at goodshepherd-hs.org.
It will take roughly three months to get a new store up and running, providing an affordable rental space is found quickly. Store donations to replace the lost inventory are currently being taken at Berryville Self Service Storage, Unit #124, located at the intersection of Rice Street and Hammons in Berryville.
If you have anything to donate, please contact Tracellen Kelly at 479-981-2886 for drop-off instructions. Please donate only items in good, clean, usable condition. We can't accept used TVs, computers, printers or fax machines.
For Holiday Island patrons, Charles Fredrick is making his storage space available for smaller items (no furniture please). He can be reached at 479-981-1482 for directions and information on what he can and cannot accept.
Two fundraisers are also in the works. A Pancake Breakfast will delight diners on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 7 to 11 a.m. at the Berryville Fire Station, 400 N. Main St.
GSHS will begin taking orders for Valentine's Day homemade cheesecakes on Jan. 15. GSHS board members Barbara Byrd, Kathy Jensen, Peggy Duncan, Nina Schmeckebier and Jeri Voerman, along with Cathy Ross and Terry Garrett, owners of the new TLC Bakery next to Hart's, will be donating their time and culinary talents to baking these delicious delicacies.
Orders will be taken through Feb. 7 at 479-253-9115 or online at goodshepherd-hs.org. Six mini-cakes are available for $10 or a single large one for $25. Pick-up for all cheesecakes will be at the Eureka Springs Doggie Shop on Feb. 13-14. Prepaid only.
Please open your hearts and wallets in any way you can. The shelter animals need your help, even though they're unable to ask for it. They count on you. Please don't let them down.