Saving Lives in Forsyth
Sidewalk Stories: Humane Society Thrift Store of Forsyth County
It’s mid morning at Humane Society Thrift Store of Forsyth County.
Executive Director Debbie Bertsch and a volunteer disassemble a massive print of Manhattan’s skyline that’s too big for a customer’s SUV. Store Manager Cliff Norton, meanwhile, rings up an array of much smaller items for another customer.
While the hours can be long at the thrift store, just north of Atlanta, it’s worth it for Bertsch. Five years ago, she left her job as a market center administrator for Keller Williams Realty, where she handled agents’ commission checks, to assist with the startup of this nonprofit thrift store concept.
The store donates profits to the Humane Society of Forsyth County animal shelter — about $8,000 per month on average — and takes donations on everything from skirts to saws.
“The big surprise for me when starting this store was the amount of time I’d spend,” Bertsch says. “This business requires a good two hours outside store hours to deal with everything. My big advice for anyone looking to quit their corporate job and go into retail? Make sure you have enough time.”
Financing furry friends
Since opening its doors, the Humane Society Thrift Store of Forsyth County has donated about $400,000 to the no-kill shelter.
They’ve accomplished this on only a $10,000 investment from the shelter. That loan was paid back — and then some — in four months.
The team also takes part in fundraisers, including an auction called the Bark and Boogie Ball. In addition, a local Jeep dealership has a give-away for the new Jeep Renegade SUV to benefit the shelter.
We know at the end of every day that we have saved a life. For all of us, that is the No. 1 thing.
Choosing the perfect POS system
With many nonprofits, money is tight. That’s why they needed a point-of-sale system that didn’t break the bank.
When Bertsch was searching for new technology, she ran into a POS system that had too high upfront costs. She ultimately chose NCR Silver on iPad, in part due to its low cost of entry.
Now, the thrift store appreciates how simple it is to use.
“We just recently hired a high schooler,” Bertsch says. “The first day, she was able to jump on the POS and use it, because it’s so easy.”
Mobility and sales reporting
Mobility is also a plus. When it’s busy, Bertsch and her crew will take an iPad off the stand to take orders on the floor. In addition to these line-busting benefits, the thrift store takes NCR Silver to events.
“We have a secondary system,” she says. “When we get backed up, or if someone is purchasing a lot of stuff, I will will walk around and take purchases. At Christmastime, we’ll have people with a whole cart full of trinkets. It’s handy to take transactions to customers.”
While employees may not use inventory features, they do use sales reporting and are planning on taking advantage of the new activity snapshot comparison, which analyzes revenue in comparison to the same time on another day. This helps the nonprofit staff accordingly to maximize every dollar it can for the Humane Society.
Offline credit a good insurance policy
Another big draw? Offline Credit. It facilitates credit transactions in the event of a technology failure. While the team has only had to use the feature a few times, they work with less stress because of it.
“It’s great that it will still take credit if the Internet goes down,” she says. “It’s nice to know it’s there.”
The Humane Society of Forsyth County is not funded by local or state government and relies on the community, individuals and businesses. That means donations are the lifeblood of this shelter.
For Bertsch, it’s more than just a job. It’s also a family affair, as both of her daughters work here. In addition, employees and their families volunteer for outside events.
“We are all a little crazy when it comes to helping animals,” Bertsch says. “We know at the end of every day that we have saved a life. For all of us, that is the No. 1 thing.”