One of the largest misconceptions about animal shelters, particularly the no-kill variety, is that they receive all the money they need to function and stay open through either state funding or federal grants.

And many of them do. Just not all of them.

The Faithful Friends Animal Advocates shelter is housed inside a clean and modern-looking facility on Highway 86 just west of Neosho. Because of the building’s beauty, most folks simply assume the shelter is the recipient of numerous, lucrative grants. Sadly, those assumptions would be wrong. Sure, donations help. Sure, fundraising events throughout the year help. But the monetary lifeblood for the shelter is located several miles to the east, just off Harmony Street, inside a second Neosho building.

The Faithful Friends Thrift Store, 915 W. Harmony St., generates and passes on all profits back to the shelter, which is turned right around and applied to the animals they’re working to adopt out to loving families.

“We wouldn’t be here without the thrift store,” said Nicole Porter, shelter director. “That’s how we stay open.”

Minus overhead such as rent, utilities, pay and benefits, etc., roughly 33% of revenue goes straight to the shelter, though Porter would love to see that number eventually rise to around 50%.

It was impossible for me to miss the connection between the thrift store and the shelter: The shelter’s logo, for example, adorns the Harmony-facing side of the building, while inside, there’s a cute welcome area filled with portraits of cute dogs and cats — past shelter animals, I can only assume. But then again, I was there specifically to snap pictures for this column. If you didn’t know anything about the shelter, or were thrifting from out of town or out of state, I guess I could see why some folks might easily overlook the connection between the two buildings.

“A lot of people don’t realize we’re the same organization,” Porter said, “so we want people to know that.”

Interestingly, the thrift store was in place before the shelter — a long-time dream for FFAA members who had been meeting twice a month since May 2008 — was constructed and completed.

“That’s really how we started out,” Porter said. “We were a fully sponsored based rescue (first) before we opened up the thrift store.” With much fanfare, the thrift store opened in February, 2014. Initial cat and dog adoptions were conducted from the store, when the foster families would bring their four-legged charges for visits with interested parties. In 2015, the adoption center opened to the public, shifting the store back to its original revenue-raising purpose.

“We have wonderful community support,” said Vivian Patterson, a member of the FFAA Board of Directors. “We couldn’t do (anything) without them.”

At first glance, the thrift store’s interior looks like most other stores of the kind. But that’s just at first glance. Unlike so many other thrift stores, Faithful Friends is very clean, very organized, with pricing signs posted everywhere for easy access.

On Friday morning, after rushing into the store because of a rain shower, I was warmly greeted by Phyllis Rush and Sue Hobson, who in no time had me laughing at their good-natured jokes. The two truly do make you feel right at home.

“Some of the biggest complements we receive is how clean it is,” Porter said. Added Patterson: “People enjoy coming in, shopping, walking round and seeing what’s out (on the shelves).”

While I’m sure many people would head out for the clothes or home décor items, my eyes were focused on the store’s extensive book collection located at the very back of the store (If you follow my other Joplin Globe column, you’ll know I’m a huge paperback collector. I won’t go into details of what books I nabbed, but let’s just say I’m happy with the eight books I brought home with me).

Donated items the store’s employees will happily accept include: Clean clothes and linens, kitchenware and working appliances, usable toys and miscellaneous items and gently used furniture (no large chairs or sofas).

Items they won’t accept include: Wet clothing or linens, mattresses, bed pillows, damaged or stained furniture, broken items, food, electronics (computers, TVs, DVDs or VHS players), used cans or paint cans, tires or moldy items.

Preferred drop-off hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Details: 417-454-4555 or visit the store on Facebook.

Address correspondence to Kevin McClintock, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email kmcclintock@joplinglobe.com.

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