Georgia Roof Pro, professional local roofers from Lawrenceville, Georgia, lately have been working on some new local campaigns including non-profit and non-governmental organizations. Just one among many is the Second Life, so today we spoke to them to find out more about their mission.
Second Life is a unique non-profit organization who’s raising funds to benefit animal rescues and spay/neuter programs. Read the interview below and reconsider if you could help them somehow!
To begin with, we would like you to briefly tell us about your organization
Second Life is a non-profit organization that was created with the mission of giving homeless pets a second chance at life. We currently operate 2 upscale thrift stores that sell donated merchandise – and in turn, we support animal rescues and spay/neuter programs with monetary grants. In addition, we promote pet adoption, educate about the important of spay/neuter and help organizations help families keep their pets at home.
- What do you do exactly?
And what was the reason that encouraged you to start this organization?
As with any good story, there has to be an inspiration to start. For us, it started with a dream. An idea. A passion for wanting to help homeless pets. Lucky, our rescued Dalmatian adopted my husband, Toby Tobias, and me in 2001 and became the love of our lives. He had been deemed “unadoptable” and he was days away from being put down – and we couldn’t say no when his rescuer asked us to foster him. We shared our lives with him for 11 years, and he opened our eyes to the plight of homeless dogs and cats and we started volunteering with animal rescue groups. Lucky led us on a new path and ignited a fire to do more for animals.
After doing the corporate gig for a while, I realized I was ready to be my own boss and follow my passions in life. I realized early on how precious life is and I wanted to follow a path that I knew I could be proud of – and that would make a difference in the lives of amazing and adorable homeless animals. So that’s where the story starts…with the ambition to make a difference for animals.
We operate our 2 upscale thrift stores in the Decatur/Avondale Estates area that allow us to raise much-needed funds to benefit animal rescues and spay/neuter.
Our 5,000+ square foot Main Store opened in 2011 and sells gently-used clothing, housewares, electronics, décor, books, and more! Pretty much anything you’d find in a home or patio – the variety is endless! Our store is geared to the bargain shopper and animal lovers- with fun animal motifs painted on the back wall, rescue and shelter information posted throughout the store – and our Chief Smile Officer, Riley, roaming the store and looking for a good ear scratch.
Our Furniture, Decor and More store opened in November 2013 and is located next door. We ran out of space in our flagship store thanks to the community’s support – so we expanded! It features furniture, artwork, lamps, decor, vintage and collectibles. It’s a more intimate shopping experience and customers never know what they might find!
When shopping at our store, customers are shopping for a higher purpose. Not only do they find great treasures at bargain prices, but they also give hope to homeless pets. When they clean out their closets to donate, they make a difference. It’s such an easy way to help!
- What motivates you?
Describe your mission passion
We started Second Life with the belief that we could make a difference for animals. Over 80,000 animals in Greater Atlanta shelters are killed EVERY year – more than 200 per day. This statistic breaks our heart and is not acceptable to us. Many of these animals are healthy, adoptable animals who would make wonderful pets – they were just failed by humans. We wanted to be a part of the change to encourage adoption and spay/neuter. We wanted to help reduce this number by providing resources and helping to promote pet adoption.
We have many dreams…and all of them include helping a lot more animals. That’s what it’s all about. Everything is driven by this desire. Animals truly change lives, and Lucky put us on a trajectory that we didn’t quite know about yet…and his legacy lives on.
- Tell us about your goals
In a nutshell, our goals are simple: to create stores that offer a great shopping and donor experience so we can continue to grow and help even more rescue organizations save the lives of homeless pets. We are close to reaching the goal of donating $1 Million in grants – having distributed over $945,000 already to more than 60 rescues and spay/neuter programs.
Once we reach this amazing milestone…we will start looking at $2 Million and beyond. We will never be satisfied until the number of healthy, adoptable animals being euthanized each year is down to zero and every pet parent is responsible by spaying and neutering their pets. It’s a lofty goal…but one we will work towards every year.
- What was the hardest/toughest moment you had to deal with?
Obstacles you faced when dealing with bureaucracy, permits, funding, etc. Something you would like to point out to anyone who might be starting their own organization.
The biggest challenge for us has been finding an acceptable work-life balance. When you run your own organization, you are essential working 24/7 – it’s not a 9 to 5 job. It’s been a challenge as we try to step back from the day-to-day so we can reclaim our social life and balance working with enjoying life – such as traveling, hiking and being with friends and family.
We have a great team and trust them wholeheartedly to run our stores – but we also want to make sure they are not overworked or getting burned out. This worry is always in the back of our minds, as our team is a very integral and important part of our success.
Early on, there were many things “we didn’t know…that we didn’t know.” We relied on others with expertise in various areas and a did a lot of research before we took the leap. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use all resources available.
- What was the most fulfilling moment that happened to you?
There are many moments that add up…writing our first set of grants. Having customers we’ve encouraged to adopt instead of buy from a breeder come back and tell us they adopted a new dog or cat. Convincing supporters who want to breed their dog or cat to spay/neuter and finding out that they did and will be part of the solution. Hearing from rescues that our grant helped them save a life by offering needed medical care. There isn’t one moment that stands out…it’s a culmination of everything we are doing that makes me smile.
- What separates you from the rest? Why you?
One thing that sets us aside from other thrift stores is our focus on displays and organization. Our assistant manager creates the most amazing window displays that draw people driving by…she has a talent I will never have. Our clothing racks are organized by size and often color-coded. It’s all about creating a fun shopping experience for supporters. This is what is amazing about our team of volunteers and employees – everyone brings a unique set of skills and talents and we encourage them to use them each day.
We love to hear many of our customers tell us we are “their favorite place to shop.” When I created our business plan in the early days, I wanted to focus on creating a retail-oriented store that was clean, organized, bright and fun to be in – a place I would want to work in. Our customers love shopping for their “retail therapy” and we never get tired of hearing them tell us they love our stores – and our mission.
We are not a rescue. Second Life does not have its own shelter or rescue license. Instead, our organization was created to benefit rescue groups who are already saving lives and helping families be a part of the solution to pet overpopulation. This makes us unique from many other animal rescue thrift stores – they are often run by a specific rescue to fund their own operations.
Our support has helped organizations:
- Rescue animals from high-kill shelters and get medical care and life-saving surgeries
- Assist families with spaying and neutering their pets so they can be a part of the solution to pet overpopulation
- TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) community cats – a proven method to reduce the feral cat population humanely through generations
- Helped women and men fleeing domestic violence keep their pets safe until they are back on their feet by supporting an organization that gives the women – and their pets – a second chance.
- Do you have any upcoming events in the forthcoming months?
We have our Greyhound Meet & Greet coming up on November 11 and December 16. Greyhound ambassadors, Kiki and Arty, come from 12-2pm with their humans so people can learn about adopting retired racing greyhounds.
On Saturday, November 25, we have our once a year Black Saturday sale. It’s the only day of the year we offer 50% off storewide in both stores! It’s a very busy day so we ask customers to bring their smiles and patience.
While we offer sales every day, we have one special day every month when we offer 40% off storewide. The upcoming sales will be November 11, December 9 and January 13. We will also be celebrating our 7th anniversary in February – check our website for the exact date as we are still in the planning stages for this event.
- What is it that you love most about what you do?
Knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of animals…and the people who love and care for them. Animals truly change people’s lives and there are so many waiting in shelters, hoping for their forever homes.
I love receiving heartfelt thank you cards from the organizations we have helped. When they share the before and after pictures of animals they have helped – thanks to our grants – or how many animals they’ve been able to spay/neuter with a grant – we know we are making a difference.
Hearing our customers tell us “we are their favorite place to shop” is such a testament to all the hard work our team does every day. Our volunteers and employees are the heart of the organization. Creating stores that encourage animal lovers and bargain seekers to shop and donate…so we can help even more animals. This is our passion and what keeps us going.
- What is the biggest challenge you’re faced with today?
One of the biggest struggles is a great one to have – growing quickly – in the sense it means we have had wonderful support. As a business major, I know that growing too quickly can affect the organization and its team…so we are continually learning how to best motivate and lead our wonderful team of volunteers and employees. They are the heart and backbone of our organization and they are critical to our success.
From a competitive perspective, we face increased challenges with the growth of online “yard sale” groups and social media marketplaces. Instead of donating, many people are trying to sell their items through these channels – or offering them to their neighbors for free…so we are continuously trying to appeal to animal lovers that their donations and shopping support makes a big difference.
- Anything else you would like to add?
It takes a village to be a success…and we are thankful for everyone who has helped us along the journey. We are especially thankful for our volunteers – they are the heart of our organization and their dedication helps us achieve our mission. Our employees help us create a consistent, customer-service focused shopping and donation experience. We couldn’t do achieve any success without our wonderful team. They go above and beyond to make our stores look as great as they do…and we are continuously amazed by their creativity and support.
The community of animal lovers has put their faith in us and supported us by donating, shopping, volunteering and promoting our stores. Our success is a result of many pieces in a puzzle – donors, customers, volunteers, employees. If anyone of these pieces were missing…we couldn’t continue helping homeless pets. We appreciate the opportunity to promote our organization and stores to a new audience of bargain shoppers and animal lovers, and hope you will come check us out!
Contact: How can people reach out to you?
Your organization’s name, phone, address, e-mail and links to your website and social media
Main Store: 1 N. Clarendon Avenue, Avondale Estates 30002 | 678.974.5671
Furniture, Decor & More store: 89 N. Clarendon Avenue, Avondale Estates 30002 | 404.434.9856