Cause for Paws volunteers help shoppers

Cause for Paws volunteers help shoppers with their treasures during a holiday open house Dec. 8. Boutique owner Sue Sturgis said the storewide half-off sale generated a record-setting sales total of $3,400 that day. The half-price promotion has been extended throughout January.

“Miracles” are happening at a former Blockbuster Video store in Lincoln.

“Miracle on 34th Street” and other holiday classics of the silver screen have been replaced at 2445 S. 48th St. by humanitarian acts that restore animals’ health and allow pet owners to continue to care for them.

Boutique owner Sue Sturgis looks back at the progress of her charitable cause in south-central Lincoln and thanks donors and shoppers for sharing her passion.

“It really is a miracle,” she reflected.

How else would you describe a charitable business venture that has, since December 2008, generated an estimated half-million dollars for animals and the people who own them?

How it all began

Ten years ago, Sturgis retired and devoted her life to helping pet owners and saving animals’ lives. The mission: To open a boutique and donate all the proceeds to animal welfare.

A decade after that life-altering decision, Sturgis still finds herself amazed. Two expansions and one relocation later, Cause for Paws continues to be a godsend for animals and the people who love and care for them.

Relying on donated merchandise and the financial support of savvy bargain hunters, the animal-loving entrepreneur estimates the store has generated $500,000 in financial relief in the past decade through assistance to animal welfare agencies and pet owners.

The shop opened on a wing and a prayer Dec. 10, 2008, in a small storefront east of 56th & Old Cheney Road.

If this is a dream, Sturgis does not want to be awakened.

History of success

Sturgis pursued her dream after a successful stint as owner and operator of the White Orchid Salon & Spa. A former fashion coordinator for Hovland-Swanson, Sturgis knows quality when she sees it. She also has a penchant for pets, dating back to her childhood days growing up on a small farm near Kearney, Nebraska.

“We had an old potbelly stove that didn’t keep up with the winter chill,” Sturgis reminisced. “Snuggling with our family’s dogs and cats helped keep me warm on those cold winter nights.”

A successful business career put her in a position to pursue her passion, and on Dec. 10, 2008, Cause for Paws opened quietly in the Old Cheney Plaza. Quality clothing – many items with the tags still on them – jewelry, accessories and household items immediately poured in. Many pet-lovers embraced the store’s mission.

It wasn’t long before a lack of space became a problem. Bursting at the seams, the tiny boutique expanded to the east – not once, but twice. With the five-year lease about to expire, Sturgis found more space, greater visibility and better parking, south of South 48th & Normal Boulevard. With the five-year lease due to expire, she signed a three-year extension in late 2018.

A storewide half-off sale, offered for the holidays, has been extended through January. The store had its biggest one-day sales total ever - $3,400 – in early December.

Getting noticed

Donors and buyers are noticing. So are like-minded pet lovers with similar ambitions.

“A gal from Atlanta was here, followed me around for a week, and now has two stores of her own,” said Sturgis. “Another store of this kind has opened in Colorado, and there’s one in North Carolina.”

Sturgis attributes a lot of the store’s success to the efforts of Jane Lammers, who’s worked part time at the store for nine years. Lammers helped set up a Facebook page and website presence, and is working on establishing an online store.

The nucleus of volunteer workers includes a half-dozen regulars and Sturgis’ husband, Darren.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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