I came across this post: http://www.thebark.com/content/innovative-sheltering which represents real progress in the animal rescue world. I have not had a chance to drive out to the mall to see this store in action but the article discusses a pet store in the Freehold Raceway Mall that was set up by Monmouth County SPCA. I am not familiar with this organization or the store but the idea is very progressive.
They took a spot in the mall and have built out a store full of food, treats, dog clothing, and dog accessories to provide revenue for the shelter in addition to showcasing rescue dogs. Remarkably, the article states that in the first 8 months, the site has placed over 200 puppies and 350 kittens. The store operates like a normal shelter and there are reference checks and questionnaires. Apparently, many people in the community thought the store idea would be a miserable failure and would have a higher return rate of animals from impulse adoptions at the mall.
I have written about this idea a few times over the last couple of years and I am a huge fan of it, but I would have guessed there would be higher return rates as well. However, so far this has not been the case. The reason the idea makes so much sense to me is that the store brings awareness to rescue animals, increases the ease of adoption, and can be self-funding because of the sales of other supplies in the store. The hours of operation are much longer and as the store is a retail venture of sorts the staff has to provide customer service. The awareness issue is not a small factor in my opinion. Many people would love to save a life but are unaware of the staggering number of pets euthanized each year.
I do not know how many stores across the country have popped up of this sort so far and a google check did not have any great info, but I think this is a trend we can expect to see continue. I think the stores should experience more retail sales than the average store as well because people should be willing to pay higher prices to a non-profit and give extra business they might not otherwise give. Finally, as stores test out different ideas, the whole of them will progress and make the model even more compelling to shelters. Maybe mall owners will even offer subsidized rent in an effort to drive traffic to the mall.