A Boise thrift store is under fire for its claims about assisting animal rescue.
The business, Re-Style Animal Rescue Thrift Store, sells used clothing at 625 S. Vista Ave.
A complaint filed with the Idaho attorney general’s office in November accused the store of violating Idaho law, which prohibits charitable organizations from misusing charitable assets.
The complainant, Lindsay McKlveen, accused Re-Style owner and founder Troy Jackson, and his wife, Carolyn Jackson, who is also the business’s secretary, of using the store’s profits for their own benefit, saying the couple “purchased a new house, a large RV, cars and a cabin.”
McKlveen filed another complaint in July that said the store’s name is misleading because its patrons donate and purchase items with the impression it supports animal rescue efforts.
She alleged that the business does not give away money to or otherwise support animal rescue organizations.
“I donated to Restyle Animal Rescue Thrift Store with the understanding that they were affiliated with animal rescue and that proceeds from the sale of my donations would be furthering animal rescue efforts,” McKlveen wrote. “I then discovered that Restyle is not affiliated with animal rescue.”
Since it opened in 2011, corporate tax returns show Re-Style has operated as a for-profit business – despite being registered as a nonprofit for over a decade, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman via a public records request.
Following the first complaint, Idaho Deputy Attorney General Stephanie Guyon contacted the business and communicated back and forth with its attorney.
The attorney told Guyon that its owner “mistakenly assumed it transformed into a for-profit when the IRS declined to recognize Re-Style Rescue as a public charity,” a letter from the attorney general’s office said.
“It’s a for-profit business,” Guyon told the Statesman by phone. “It’s not a charitable organization.”
In December 2021, after receiving notice of the initial complaint, the business filed a conversion notice to change its status. It officially switched from a nonprofit to a for-profit in early 2022.
“Re-Style Rescue Thrift Store Inc. needs to be cautious about how it presents itself to its patrons,” a letter from the attorney general’s office to the business said. “In no way should the business imply to the public that it is a charitable organization or that any donations it receives are tax-deductible.”
Following the second complaint several months later, the attorney general’s office sent another letter to the business, this time recommending it change its name to “Re-Style Thrift Store” to eliminate consumer confusion and maintain brand recognition if it doesn’t support animal rescue. endeavours.
On Google and on the store’s signs, the business can be found as “Restyle Animal Rescue Thrift Store,” although it’s legally registered as “Re-Style Rescue Thrift Store.”
Re-Style has not changed its name since the attorney general’s recommendations.
“We can’t force the business to change its name or order it to change its name – it was merely a recommendation,” Guyon said. “That was pretty much the end of it.”
Troy Jackson told the Statesman by phone that the business is involved with animal rescue activities but declined to specify in what way. He said the person who made the complaints is a disgruntled family member.
“We save animals’ lives,” Jackson said. “We’re going to keep doing what we do. If you need help with your animals, come down.”
Jackson started the business with the intent to “operate thrift stores for charitable support of Northwest Animal Companions Inc.” for animal care,” according to its articles of incorporation. Northwest Animal Companions was a nonprofit organization that provided spay and neuter services.
It was dissolved in January 2012, about a year after Re-Style opened, according to filings on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website. Jackson was its executive director.
Kristine Schellhaas, public relations manager for the Idaho Humane Society, said the organization has not received any donations from Re-Style in the form of pet food, beds or other supplies, but its veterinary clinic has helped two customers in the last year who used spay and neuter coupons provided by Re-Style.
“From what I understand, you can go to Re-Style and request a coupon of some kind or basically a check to our organization – I’m not exactly sure how it works – and then Re-Style will give you money towards getting your pets changed,” Schellhaas said. “We’ve only seen two coupons.”
McKlveen is the only person to file a formal complaint against the store. She shared her grievances via social media earlier this month in a post encouraging people in Reddit’s r/Boise community. to “be aware when contributing to businesses that may not be operating with integrity.”
The post garnered over 130 upvotes and stirred responses from others on the site who chimed in.
“I’ve never liked the place anyways, but ethics-baiting is super icky,” one user said.
Another commenter recalled the business hosting free vaccination clinics and bringing pets in the store for adoption. Some said they would continue shopping at the store.
“They have decent prices and selection compared to other thrift stores,” one person said. “Part of the purpose of a thrift store is to reuse and repurpose the waste of our overconsumption, and I think Restyle is at least doing OK on that front.”