Posted: June 24, 2014, 4 a.m. EDT
© Courtesy Rose German
Rose German found a way to combine her love of ferrets and love of art via the Ferret Fabulous Finds Auction House.
"Let’s go shoppin’,” is one of my niece’s favorite sayings. And we know we are in for it when she hits shopping mode. Thank goodness for her bank account that she hasn’t found the Ferret Fabulous Finds Auction House (FFFAH) on Facebook yet. Of course, once she reads this article, she will inevitably check it out — and she’s not going to be able to resist what’s there. This will be great for her, but it will be greater still for little ones in ferret rescues because sales at FFFAH benefit them.
You could say it all began in the historical town of Plympton, Massachusetts, in 1998 when Rose German fell in love with and began taking in unwanted ferrets. People involved in ferret rescue quickly gravitated to her warmth and charm, and she soon found herself in a wonderful new world of ferret lovers. German is an incredibly talented seamstress, and she put her artistry to use by creating Little Feet Ferret Bedding, which offers handcrafted ferret bedding worldwide. Her high-quality products help support her efforts in ferret rescue and also help others. She donates them for raffles, ferret shows and shelters for the purpose of fundraising to aid other ferrets in need. German, however, is a lady of vision. And she was always on the lookout for a way to do even more for the ferrets.
One day in 2012, the tossing around of ideas in German’s creative mind grew into a heck of a brainstorm. A hurricane in fact! She combined her love of art with her love of ferret rescue by establishing a place for people to visit and buy ferrety things from struggling artists. A requirement for an artist to join her auction group was that they already had to be donating their goods to help ferret shelters. From there a rule was established that 10 percent or more of all sales by the self-supporting artists would be donated every week to a ferret shelter.
So let’s review this. My niece is happy because she has a place to shop. Artists are happy to have somewhere to sell their wares and for a good cause. Ferret shelter operators are happy in that they will be able to better provide for their rescues. Did I mention my niece would be happy? "Let’s go shoppin’!”
It wasn’t very hard to find brilliantly talented artists in the ferret community, nor was it difficult to find caring, generous, and hardworking ones for the group. However, success of the auction house cannot rely on talent alone. It requires the efforts of a dedicated team leader along with dependable and supportive administrators to take the FFFAH to the level it is at today. German is quick to say, "Our key members are every artist that participates on a regular basis! This group would not function in any way, shape or form without their contribution to the group. They are the foundation for which we stand.”
The following people with the following wares have been there from Day 1:
Tootsie Mead – Ferret figurines;
Kristen Fischer – Crocheted ferret toys;
Tracy Keelan (of Ferrets With Soule ferret shelter) – Books, greeting cards, playing cards, tote bags, umbrellas, notebooks, blankets, watches and handbags;
Clara Rodriguez – Ferret sketch artist;
Becky Moffitt – Knitted/crocheted Space Pods and scarves;
Patti Riggert – Key chains, necklaces and bracelets.
A newer addition to the crew is Dave Wooldridge, the chairman of the Five Points Ferret Refuge and also an artist himself. He was recruited within the last year to add to the diversity of the artists at the FFFAH. But he brought more than just his beautiful carved wood signs to the house. He became an administrator of the auction and was made the shelter nomination coordinator. Most notably he has helped to build the group up and revitalize its impact on a global scale. Ferret shelters in countries such as Canada, England and Australia have been on the receiving end of hundreds of dollars due to these efforts. When asked what it was like to work with German, he replied, "Rose is the most kind-hearted, generous, bombastic and outspoken rescuer that I know.”
© Courtesy Ferret Fabulous Finds Auction House
This sampling shows some of the products available through the Ferret Fabulous Finds Auction House.
Speaking of impact, this very young organization has made stunning progress. The group has grown to nearly 2,500 members from around the world and is now generating an impressive $12,000-plus a year in donations for ferret rescue.
"We, as a group, have contributed over 104 weekly donations that average $250 to $300 to the shelter chosen from the list for most of the time that we have been in operation,” German said. That totals more than $25,000 in donations to date. That’s … a lot of shoppin’.
The variety of items to be found at the auction house is astounding. Just a few of the things to bid on include: handcrafted ferret bedding, ferret-shaped sun catchers and wind chimes, figurines, stained glass art, crocheted ferret and cat toys, duck soup for ferrets, laundry soap, books, greeting cards, playing cards, tote bags, umbrellas, notebooks, blankets, watches, handbags, ferret hats and accessories, ferret cross-stitch art , ferret clothing, stuffies, ferret sketches, knitted and crocheted Space Pods, scarves, key chains, necklaces, bracelets, ferret embroidered goodies, play barrels, custom basket-beds, shoe beds, custom decal stickers and signs, ferret harness sets and collars, painted wood crafts, hand-painted ferrety items, pet engraved wood signs and plaques , doilies and more.
It’s extremely simple for you to "go shoppin’” at the auction house! Upon going to the website, just click the "Join” button at the top. Once approved, it is extremely important to read the welcoming paragraph at the top of the page. It explains everything you need to know about how to use the site, the rules and how to participate. Then the fun begins. If you don’t want to bid on something in the house, there are plenty of "buy now” items. But believe me, the real fun is in the bidding!
The FFFAH is more than just an online auction house. For an artist, this group offers support and helps new artists grow. Kristin Fisher, who crochets ferret and cat toys, credits the growth in her creativity and confidence to German and the FFFAH. She looks forward to more opportunities to help ferrets in the future. "I have so much fun meeting people from all over the world...knowing we are making a difference and that people know this! These people want to help us, help others. I would love to see FFFAH be more popular. The more people are familiar with Rose's FFFAH, the more animals we can help. It would be best if there was no need for shelters, but as long as there is, may we be able to help as many as possible.”
The products from the online auction site offer more than just financial support to artists and ferret shelters. And the people of FFFAH are much more than a social network. Lisa Galarneau is a volunteer at her local shelter and a frequent auction bidder. She shares both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story about how the auction group helped a ferret that was rescued by a couple after getting thrown from a car. She said the ferret was starving, filthy, blind and very scared. Furthermore his back legs were impaired, which made it difficult for him to move around on any smooth surfaces. She had previously seen a unique play-mat on the FFFAH site that had tunnels, pockets and jingle toys attached. The play-mat was perfect for offering a safe, warm, interactive play area that could easily be rolled up and moved around. Galarneau contacted German to see if it would be up for auction any time soon. "Her immediate response was to hit the sewing machine and make a custom play-mat for Lotto that shipped out almost immediately,” Galarneau said. "That became the first place Lotto felt safe enough to wander around a little bit and learn to play.”
But that wasn’t all. One of the other FFFAH artists, Becky Moffitt, sent Lotto a crocheted Sleep Pod that proved to be a turning point in the little one’s life. Galarneau said, "The little ferret who cried in his sleep every single night suddenly did not anymore.”
When my niece and I shop at the FFFAH, we will certainly always remember little Lotto and how the kind, hardworking artists stepped up to help a traumatized and lost soul find some comfort during his last days. Every time I look at the goodies I buy from there, my heart will swell knowing the countless "Lottos” I have helped. One thing is for sure; my niece will have a whole new meaning added to her favorite phrase, "Let’s go shoppin.’” And so will I.
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