Where Sales and Compassion Meet: Heidi Fennell’s Journey at the SPCA Thrift Store

By Kirsten Millar

With a passion for sales and customer service, and a heart for animals, Heidi Fennell found her happy place at the Dartmouth SPCA Thrift Store.

The thrift store was an obvious choice for Heidi, a seasoned sales professional who has been working in sales since her first job as a cashier at age 15. “Volunteering at the SPCA thrift store brings the fun back into my life. I’m fortunate to be able to do something that I love while also helping a great organization.”

An avid animal lover, Heidi is a certified therapy dog handler for the St. John Ambulance. She previously volunteered with several of her dogs to enrich the lives of seniors and the lives of children at the IWK. This made the SPCA a perfect fit for her.

Heidi, who joined the dedicated team of volunteers at the Dartmouth SPCA Thrift Store in June 2023, explains why she loves volunteering: “It’s a stress reliever for me. I enjoy connecting with customers by welcoming everyone who comes to the store and by thanking them for supporting the SPCA with their purchase. Every customer has the choice of where they spend their money and it’s important they all feel valued and that their purchase is greatly appreciated.”

Heidi recalls one day where the store had an infectious, positive energy. Customers who were strangers were chatting, laughing and having a good time together. A first-time visitor even remarked on the lively atmosphere.

“It was rewarding to see people enjoying their time while knowing the sales contributed to the SPCA’s mission. That day I made the highest sales of all my shifts at the store,” says Heidi. “It also felt rewarding when one of the store’s regular customers applied to volunteer at the thrift store. She said she enjoys the atmosphere and wanted to support the SPCA as a volunteer, as well as a customer.”

For those who don’t like working on the front line with customers, there are other important jobs at the thrift store like sorting clothes, restocking shelves, and setting up displays. It’s a great place for volunteers who want to support the SPCA but don’t want to work in the shelters. And volunteers still get to see animals stopping by. “Customers often come in with their dogs. The regular pups know that treats await them behind the cash register and will make a beeline towards it,” says Heidi.

Heidi emphasises the quality that they maintain at the store. “The volunteers who sort donations go over everything to ensure we can be proud of the items we sell. The store is very well taken care of and in my opinion it’s the best thrift store out there. Customers are happily surprised when they learn we don’t charge sales tax because we’re a non-profit. If you like thrifting, you have to check it out.”

Heidi wholeheartedly encourages others to volunteer. “I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoy my time volunteering,” she says. “I truly get back more than I give.”

Why not consider joining Heidi in this fulfilling journey? Visit one of our SPCA thrift stores or explore other volunteer opportunities to be part of this incredible community.

Kirsten Millar

Kirsten is an animal lover and proud “dog aunt” who recently lost her two cats that she adopted from the SPCA in 2007. She volunteers at the SPCA to honour their memory and help other animals like them.