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cause for paws

Store owner Sue Sturgis is moving her Cause For Paws boutique to a larger storefront south of 48th & Normal Boulevard. She and her husband took possession this month. The Chihuahua in photo is one of three dogs she owns.

Five years ago, a burning desire to help animals motivated Sue Sturgis to open a boutique.

She’d sold her successful spa business and focused on her passion.

Well, good news for Lincoln’s cats and dogs: Cause For Paws, the boutique Sturgis created to help animals, is moving – and expanding by 30 percent.

In theory, at least, that means more sales, which means more money to help the area’s animal welfare organizations reach more critters.

In December 2008, the newly-retired Lincoln woman fulfilled a dream and opened Cause For Paws in Old Cheney Plaza, east of 56th and Old Cheney Rd. Several expansions later, she’s moving to larger, more visible quarters south of South 48th and Normal Boulevard, occupying a building that’s been empty since a Blockbuster Video moved out 7-8 years ago.

Sturgis has signed a five-year lease and will take possession in January. She said Old Cheney Plaza owner Marlyn Schwartz has been a “great landlord” but that it’s time to help more groups in their quest to help more animals – and that can only be done by expansion.

Location, size

Sturgis looks forward to better visibility on a busy north-south street in the heart of Lincoln, and 6,500 square feet of floor space compared to 4,800 square feet at 5700 Old Cheney Rd.

A combination of volunteer salespeople and donated quality merchandise has enabled the boutique to help causes such as the Capital Humane Society, The Cat House, the Coalition for Pet Protection, and Hearts United for Animals (HUA).

In recent months, Sturgis broadened her scope of assistance to include financially-strapped individuals with pricey animal-related expenses such as veterinary services. Sturgis said she’s going back to helping animal welfare groups exclusively.

“I decided that saying yes to individual requests is not who I am, that I need to get back to focusing on helping groups. I was still supporting charities, but not at the level that I was,” she said.

$23,000 needed

Even with lots of volunteer help, moving to a larger building with a central location will come with a hefty price tag. Sturgis figures it will cost $23,000 to renovate the building and whip it into shape for an early February opening – and that includes a lot of the work being done by her talented husband, Darren Sturgis. One of Sturgis’ nephews, Brandon Truey, is building the front desk for the new store.

One area that’s not a concern is finding enough merchandise to fill the 6,500 square feet. “We’ve got enough already to fill the new store,” said Sturgis. “We’ve got some wonderful donated items, and we’ve come down on prices a lot.”

While there are bargains aplenty, the real winners, of course, will be the animals. Just the thought of a burgeoning cat population causes Sturgis to lose sleep. She worries about cats that crawl under a car’s hood in search of warmth ... and “outdoors dogs” whose negligent owners fail to provide hay on a cold winter’s night, and small doghouses that provide inadequate shelter.

She regrets not being able to do more. She hopes that the building on South 48th provides an answer.

“I’m driven to the point of exhaustion,” says Sturgis, “but we’ve got to keep this going ... we’ve come too far to let this go.”

Finding enough volunteers will provide a seamless transition and avoid any down time between closing the current store and opening the new one, she added.

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