Karen Kamachi never imagined that running a thrift store would lead to her appearance on a TV series.
“It’s not what I expected from my job,” said the North Surrey resident, who is featured on the new Discovery Channel “Pets and Gatherers”, a documentary series that follows a unique animal hospital in Richmond and two thrift stores that help fund its operation.
Kamachi volunteer-manages both Second-hand clothing RAPS (Regional Society for the Protection of Animals), also located in Richmond. Proceeds from the sale of donated items fund the organization’s veterinary hospital, which provides low-cost veterinary care.
“Pets & Pickers,” which debuts Thursday, May 12, shows Kamachi and other “pickers” combing through the contents of donated storage lockers.
“I love the scavenger hunt of going into a locker. I mean, people have already donated entire homes,” Kamachi explained.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I’m 60, so that’s saying something,” added Kamachi, who previously worked as a florist and also a disability program manager.
Fourteen years ago, Kamachi offered to help RAPS organize a charity gala, and she ended up running their thrift store.
“Her boundless optimism and ability to learn on the fly helped her exceed expectations in her new role,” says a biography, “and she has since become an expert at securing donations, finding buyers and selling. ensuring everyone plays well as they raise money to help people and animals in need.
“Pets & Pickers” primarily focuses on the animal hospital and the people who bring their pets there, but also features Kamachi and the thrift store crew.
The first episode of the series shows Kamachi asking the staff to unload the “mystery” lockers during a rainstorm, and it doesn’t go well at first.
“I run this store as if it were my own,” she says. “The volunteers who work here and the animals we serve are all part of my family. Rain, sleet or hail, nothing stops us.
One of the lockers contains a vintage organ that excites picker Marty Kramer, who once led The Guess Who and is shown in photos with Neil Young and Billy Idol. Later the organ was sold to Gord Sauck, who ran Innovative Audio in Surrey.
“I think thrift shops themselves would make a great TV show,” Kamachi pointed out. “Originally it was a show of gatherers with animals, and now it’s the other way around, with the two featured.”
The first show in the series also focuses on Dexter, a dog who has such severe respiratory problems, worried owner Michelle travels for hours in the hope that RAPS can help pay for urgent surgery. Meanwhile, Halo the Chihuahua discovers more than exercise at the local dog park.
Eight episodes, “Pets & Pickers” was filmed for nearly three years, Kamachi said.
New episodes are available for broadcast weekly on CTV.ca and the CTV app.
A first RAPS Pets & Pickers event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 at the Ballroom of the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond, starting at 7 p.m. “It’s a fundraiser,” Kamachi noted, with tickets for $25 on eventbrite.ca.
Visit RAPS online at rapsbc.com.
AnimalsFilms and TV showsPets and People