A new retail complex in New York City brings new meaning to the phrase “multi-tasking.” At this one stop shop, the animal-savvy can drop off their pets for a day of pampering on one floor and then shop for high-end pet products and pick up a new animal that desperately needs a home on the next. Best of all, every penny spent while passing the day in this fur-friendly environment goes directly to animal rescue!
The Animal Haven Society, a coalition of no- kill animal shelters and sanctuaries based in New York City, recently made the dreams of many animal lovers a reality with the opening of their newest project, the Animal Haven Boutique—a 7,000 square foot adoption center and pet superstore in New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood. “It’s guilt free shopping,” says Jennifer Bristol, associate director of the Animal Haven Society. “Not only are you spoiling your pet, but it’s going back to the homeless animals.”
Animal Haven’s unique idea of melding retail and adoption services together in their newest facility is a concept they hope will become the new trend in sheltering, according to Marcello Forte, executive director of the organization. “Even if shelters are happy places and look really good, people perceive them as scary, depressing places,” he says. “We wanted to create a space that was not what people think of as a shelter… this a beautiful, bright, high-end Soho boutique that features animals for adoption.”
Architect Mandy Lew designed the three-level space with those principles in mind. The third level serves customers as the combined retail boutique and adoption space; it was distinctively designed to house shelter animals in large glass windows just above the shop’s specialty items, much like a pet shop would. But the truly unique aspect of the space’s design, says Forte, are the four-level glass enclosed platforms built into the wall that feature adoptable animals interacting and playing together. The platforms also showcase certain retail products, and recycled barn siding used as shelving allows employees to easily adjust displays for different sized items.
The second level provides grooming services and dog training, as well as houses what Forte describes as a “living room,” complete with an Internet café, flat screen TVs, and a lending library for customers. “We wanted it to be a very interactive space,” he says.
Animal Haven Society’s “traditional” adoption facility is located in Flushing, NY, but the innovative rescue organization also owns Animal Haven Acres, a country oasis in Delaware County, NY created for rescued dogs and cats in need of rehabilitation before adoption. The organization, now in its fortieth year of operation, also holds mobile adoption events that bring shelter animals into highly trafficked environments, such as malls and pet stores, and encourages people to adopt a pet rather than buy one. Their newest project, made possible by a grant from the Mayor’s Alliance, tackles the marketability of shelter animals.
Forte says he believes the unique and friendly retail-based concept embodied in the Animal Haven Boutique will further engage animal lovers in the adoption process. “We wanted to change the experience so that the coolest thing to do is adopt,” he says.