Animal Place, one of California’s oldest and largest farmed animal sanctuaries, purchased Berkeley’s vegan specialty store, Republic of V, one of only eleven such stores in the United States. Renamed Animal Place’s Vegan Republic, all profits will fund the organization’s sanctuary, rescue, and outreach efforts.
The store is a win/win for human and nonhuman animals: shoppers get delicious vegan treats, and purchases help fund the care of 200 rescued farmed animals.
Opened by Joe Haptas and Noelle Callahan in February 2014, Republic of V had a mission of making veganism fun and accessible to everyone, with an emphasis on artisanal and hard-to-find vegan products. Earlier this year, the original owners offered to sell the store to Animal Place. Haptas did the same in 2005 when he sold Seattle shop Sidecar – now Vegan Haven – to Pigs Peace Sanctuary in the Pacific Northwest.
Owning a retail store may seem a stretch from the sanctuary’s regular work of rescuing and caring for needy farmed animals but the two blend nicely. Haptas says Vegan Republic fits perfectly within Animal Place’s advocacy efforts.
“Animal Place is an example of how animal nonprofits can save animals directly – through rescue and sanctuary – and indirectly through providing the community with compassionate and sustainable food choices,” he said.
In terms of location and timing, Animal Place is sailing into a perfect storm. The East Bay is currently experiencing a vegan business boom. New vegan restaurants are starting up and established vegan businesses are opting out of high San Francisco rents and relocating to Berkeley, Oakland, and other areas in the East Bay.
Animal Place will ensure Vegan Republic serves as a hub for the Bay Area’s animal rights community, and intends to host events such as cooking demonstrations, book signings, film screenings, and activist meetings.
“Joe and Noelle developed relationships with customers, suppliers, neighbors, and local groups, and we plan to maintain those bonds and also build new ones within the local community, and the vegan and animal rights community at large,” said Animal Place executive director Kim Sturla.
Animal Place’s Vegan Republic will continue to stock vegan groceries including locally made gourmet foods, accessories, beauty and personal care products, home goods, dog and cat foods, books, and other supplies. As of this weekend, along with other clothing, the store will debut Animal Place merchandise.
Aside from promoting veganism, Animal Place looks forward to helping support dozens of independent vegan businesses that supply the store with specialty products, including locally made cheeses, chocolates, and baked goods.
By the end of 2015, Vegan Republic hopes to offer online merchandise sales. This would also give Animal Place fans around the country a way to support the organization if they can’t visit the sanctuary or the store in person.
However, the organization’s advocacy and education programs all send the same message.
“The single most important thing people can do to help farmed animals is to adopt a vegan diet,” said Sturla.