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Ark Antiques inspired by animals

BY JONATHAN VAN DYKE

Contributor

Junk is hardly the word for it.

Yet, inside the confines of a La Jolla shop in 1971 lay junk, but really, really nice junk.

“We were Glorious Junk, actually, with a q-u-e,” said Betsy Hillyer, co-founder with Sheila Vardaman of what became Ark Antiques in La Jolla’s downtown Village. “We started at the Humane Society and they converted a garage for us, and it was definitely junk.

“We were told eventually that it was too fancy to be junk with a q-u-e.”

In various spaces from Bird Rock to Girard Avenue, with different names such as Glorious Junkque or Ark Antiques, two ideals have stayed constant: to sell high-end antiques all in the name of animal love.

“We thought there was an absence of organizations that were giving back to animals,” said Elizabeth Davidson, current president of the Ark’s six-person board.

It’s now in its fourth location since its inception — at 7620 Girard Ave., just across from where it had been for 17 years. Ark will host a grand reopening at a date to be determined at the end of November or beginning of December.

After moving on from the Humane Society, Glorious Antiques opened anew in 2003 as Ark Antiques.

“We started the Ark so we could benefit many charities,” said Daisy Fitzgerald, store manager. “We get together and decide the best way to give (the proceeds) away, but we give it all away.”

Its newest name came naturally.

“What’s more appropriate since our purpose is to save animals?” Fitzgerald added.

The store carries many fine items, both consigned and donated.

“We’re known all over the country for the quality merchandise we have,” Fitzgerald said.

A number of different items have marched in and out of the doors of this shop, including an 18th century suit of armor, various china pieces, different jewelry and a Venetian cabinet that netted five figures.

With its proceeds, Ark sponsors grants for many organizations that benefit animals across San Diego and the country.

Recently, Ark helped Spay Neuter Action Program (SNAP) fund its Neuter Scooter mobile clinic, which helps service areas in need all across San Diego County.

“We’re pretty small, so we’re glad there’s an organization that knows what we’re doing and supports us,” said Candy Schumann, co-founder of SNAP.

A true sense of community has helped Ark remain a vital organization for animal nonprofits.

“We are very, very grateful for them,” said Peggy Howell, a founder of Friends of County Animal Shelters (FOCAS). “They are well-known people who have been in the community and have been known for philanthropy for a long time, and because of that, people flock to them.”

Regardless of name, location or affiliation, Ark continues to be big part of La Jolla and a big deal for animal lovers.

“They’ve had some setbacks, but because of who they are, they persevere and are truly dedicated to the animal cause, and they deserve a lot of credit and deserve to be celebrated,” Howell said.

For more information on Ark Antiques, go to www.arkantiques.org.