Archive for Monday, July 13, 2009

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Shopping companions: Meet some of downtown Lawrence’s favorite furry characters

Alice, a denizen of The Dusty Bookshelf.

Alice, a denizen of The Dusty Bookshelf.

July 13, 2009

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Allie sits at the window and stares outside at customers. People with their dogs walk by, stopping to say hi. Someone comes in the store and Allie greets them, giving them the guided tour of the store. Allie works at It’s About Time, 816 Mass., but she’s not on the store’s payroll. Allie is the store’s live-in cat, which Jessica Irving, store manager, says is the perfect job for her. Many stores in the downtown area keep animals, which employees say make working in the stores more comfortable.

With the Downtown Sidewalk Sale coming up Thursday, here’s your guide to the animals you’ll encounter at the shops along Massachusetts Street.

Mickey Roy, Sam and Ernie, Love Garden Sounds, 936 1/2 Mass.

Types: Mickey Roy is a yellow tabby male, Sam is a tabby male with white boots, and Ernie is a gray male.

Origins: All three came from the Lawrence Humane Society, and Mickey Roy and Sam were cage mates.

Favorite spot in store: Mickey Roy and Sam roam around in the store and sleep in boxes on the counter and windows, but Ernie stays in the back.

About: Mickey Roy and Sam treat the store like their bachelor pads, says Aaron Marable, salesperson. He says they have epic wrestling matches every night, and employees cover the music racks so the cats don’t blanket them in hair. Ernie is less sociable, but he shares an office in the back with the store’s record buyer.

Allie, It’s About Time, 816 Mass.

Type: White female cat with black and orange spots

Favorite spot in store: Front window

Origins: Jessica Irving, store manager, says Allie was rescued from the Lawrence Humane Society and originally hunted for mice at Celestial Ironworks before she came to It’s About Time.

About: Allie has a legion of fans, including dogs that walk by that Irving calls Allie’s “boyfriends.” Allie’s never broken anything at the store, but once she did get into paint, as evidenced by green pawprints peppering the floor. Allie also has left her mark as a clock the store created in her likeness that hangs on the wall.

Alice, Dusty Bookshelf, 708 Mass.

Type: Gray tabby female

Origins: Alice was a stray found by a local veterinarian about 10 years ago. Shannon Jones, manager, says the trend of cats in the Dusty Bookshelf started in its Manhattan location but quickly spread to Lawrence.

Favorite spot in store: Jones says the green armchair in the animals section of the store is Alice’s property and can almost always be found there.

About: The Dusty Bookshelf sells T-shirts with Alice’s face on them and she’s even on a page of the book Cats 24/7. Jones says Alice is perfect for the store because she’s mellow and great with kids, but during interviews for new employees, they ask about allergies or fear of cats to make sure people can work with her.

Past Event
Downtown Sidewalk Sale

  • When: Thursday, July 16, 2009, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where: Downtown Lawrence, Lawrence
  • Cost: Free
  • More on this event....
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Stanley, Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 802 Mass.

Type: Tan longhair male with shaved body and unshaved head, tail and feet

Origins: Stanley came to the store about eight years ago after being adopted from the Lawrence Humane Society. Jill Meara, buyer at Sunflower, says Stanley has BBs in his body, requires a liquid diet and is missing all his teeth, so he probably had a rough life before Sunflower.

Favorite spot in store: On the counter or in his tent in the front window

About: Stanley has his own “Stanley Cat” Facebook page as well as T-shirts, buttons and water bottles with his face on them.

“Even people who don’t like cats like Stanley,” Meara says.

Possum, Sarah’s Fabrics, 925 Mass.

Type: All-black female

Origins: About nine years ago, workers outside Sarah’s Fabrics warned employees that an opossum had entered the store. Employees left food so it wouldn’t die inside, and eventually left out a litter box. Someone shook a bag of food and out came a black kitten.

Favorite spot in store: Possum regularly sleeps in her personal fur-lined basket or on bolts of fabric next to the cutting counter, but she really roams around the whole store, says Amy Mihalevich, saleswoman.

“It’s all a big cat bed,” she says.

About: Possum likes to sleep on top of all the fabric, and Mihalevich says employees follow her with a lint brush.

Bailey, Kring’s Interiors, 634 Mass.

Type: Black lab female

Origins: Jana Flory, interior designer, says Kring’s Interiors owner Brit Kring got Bailey at a Ducks Unlimited auction almost nine years ago and didn’t know where to keep her, so he took her to the store.

Favorite spot in store: Lying on the tile floor or waiting by the candy machine while people get M&Ms.;

About: Bailey comes to the store every day it’s open, and Kring says she’s an icebreaker for customers who can’t decide if they want Kring’s Interiors to work on their home.

“We’ve had a number of people say, ‘We decided to have you do it because of the dog,’” Kring says.

Duke, Winfield House, 835 Mass.

Type: Golden Retriever male

Origins: Duke, who is now 11, has been coming to the store since he was 3 months old, says Linda Campbell, former owner of the family business. He’s named Duke after John Wayne, and many people know his name before they know names of employees.

Favorite spot in store: Laying in the open door

About: Duke only comes to the store with Campbell on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but when he does, he’s either sleeping or is surrounded by people petting him.

“He’s the most important person around,” Campbell says.

Comments

Tex 6 years ago

The first three cats mentioned live at the Love Garden.

bkreed1960 6 years ago

Funny thing is some out of town friends and I were just talking about some of the animals that live in the Mass. stores just yesterday. The article is very timely.

Bunny_Hotcakes 6 years ago

I don't know which cat it was (I think it may no longer be with us) but I got TAGGED by one of the cats at the Love Garden several years ago. It turns out it is a really good idea to read the bios of the kitties before you just go petting one. I felt worse that I'd upset the cat than about my scratched hand.

I've gotten to pet all the other kitties on this list, though, and they all seem to like the attention. Still, after that experience with the kitty at LG, I always ask the store proprietors whether or not the animals like to be touched BEFORE i just go pawing them these days. (Pun possibly intended.)

Sidenote: there used to be a cat at Game Guy. Do they still have a kitty?

Mel Briscoe 6 years ago

AW! what a great article! i haven't been in all of these businesses but i may just have to make a visit now. all of these furry "employees" are so precious!

sustainabilitysister 6 years ago

Yeah for the businesses that adopted and rescued!!! I wish more places of work would consider having companion animals allowed. There have been studies on the work production and overall mental health of the workers within establishments that allow you to bring your own animal, or ones that have animals living at the place of work. In most cases people tend to work longer hours and are happier to be there.

outtatowntownie 6 years ago

Ooo.. going to join stanley's facebook page right now...

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

I don't understand anyone being afraid of a cat. I am a true animal lover though, so I think this is great to have them share our lives instead of acting like they are there just to keep us amused, or as if they are stuffed animals. I don't like the word pet, thinking of my cat as my companion and friends who shares my life.

Agent_X 6 years ago

I used to frequent Game Guy and there was a cat there but I can't remember her name since its been awhile. She used to sleep on the computer monitor on the counter. I took a photo of her sleeping and they had it posted on the wall behind the counter and they also used it in a couple of ads I believe.

RaynRavyn 6 years ago

B-H, Last week there were two at GG, a black and white one and a striped one. <3 the kitties downtown!

meggers 6 years ago

Marion,

Reread the article. Possum is the cat's name, because someone mistook it for one when it was a kitten.

Does Footprints still have a cat?

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Kinda like people mistake marion for a woman, don't you think?

KansasPerson 6 years ago

I shudder to think of the kind of life that Sunflower cat had before he was rescued. I'm so glad he's in a loving home now and I hope the events that led to his condition are not even in his memory anymore.

KansasPerson 6 years ago

I laughed at the possum part of the story. It'd have to be pretty dark before I'd confuse a little black kitten with a possum!

Marcus DeMond 6 years ago

I just met the cat at Sunflower and he is really cool looking. The grooming makes him look like a little lion. Wish the water bottle I bought had his face on it...

notajayhawk 6 years ago

Actually, Marion, sense of humor (such as it is) aside, possums are extremely clean animals that have incredible immune systems. They can get rabies (like any mammal) but do so less often than any other mammal. They also don't get distemper or many other diseases.

The 'playing possum' thing they do is an involuntary reflex. If you frighten one, they drop - you really have to work at it to get bit by one (including surprising them before that reflex kicks in). And they eat anything, so they keep the yard clean from trash/garbage that might attract less-desirable pests.

We had one in our yard for a long time. He slept with the stray cat colony (they got along great), and he was much preferred to the raccoon that started hanging around after the possum left.

LadyJ 6 years ago

Have to admit I mistook a possum for a cat once, he had his head hidden. I petted him then saw the tail, backed away quick then.

Mari Aubuchon 6 years ago

That is a lovely picture of Alice. She is a sweetie: )

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

Marion, I thought your remarks were funny, I don't know if you think that is a good or a bad thing. There was a possum that came to our back yard on Rhode Island Street and I named him Willie G. Allie has such a solemn, wide-eyed look!

riverdrifter 6 years ago

Had a possum that hung around at the farm for many years. He/she had a crooked grin & a tore off ear from getting hit by a car or something. Liked cast-aside barbequed ribs. Named him Awesome. Arrowhead Hardware in Baldwin has an enormously fat cat on the premises. Sleeps on the scales...

mdrndgtl 6 years ago

I'm going to have to disagree with you Mari, I think Alice is a very unsociable cat. Maybe it's the patrons who poke and prod her all day? I'm not sure. I enjoy the store, but I take care to never let my guard down when she's within eight feet.

J 6 years ago

These animals are adorable, but I am unable to shop at the businesses with cats due to severe allergy. I would like to support downtown shops, but due to these store pets, I have to do my shopping at cat-free establishments elsewhere.

password 6 years ago

ok, need to ask if anyone knows this about the animals in the store - where do they go to the bathroom at? as for the cats - who has to clean and change the litter box? the owners or the workers? plus, i have to give kudos to Love Garden for keeping up their tradition - the cats have long ago become a part of your atmosphere and your iconic setting!

Hawk6643 6 years ago

We went in an saw the cat at It's All About Time. Needless to say, the girl working there, who was not the owner of the cat, was very rude to us. She even tried to tell us that the cat wagging it's tail meant that it was nervous and it was going to attack us. Yea, right.

Danimal 6 years ago

I love to see animals in a business setting!

lawthing 6 years ago

There was a cat in a shop I worked in for a while.

The problem was that not everyone was an animal lover. People who did not like animals were often mean to him.

Then there were the small children that would pick him up by the tail..and eventually the cat was not tolerant of small children...That was the beginning of the cat becoming a liablity for the business.

Another problem was the customers afraid of animals or alergic to them.

Sadly too many issues and then the Insurance company found out about the the cat and told the boss that they would not cover the liability of the cat in the business.

That is when the cat had to go.

Hawk6643 6 years ago

75 x 55, the cat was not acting like it was upset. My cat wags his tail when he is happy. Not to mention this cat was purring and rubbing up against us. Somehow I doubt it was getting ready to attack.

jansypansy 6 years ago

I love Possum, she is so sweet.
Have you met the fun dogs at Anderson's Rental? They're not on Mass but worth the trip to visit.

SusieCreamcheeze 6 years ago

I think that Domino, my big black great dane, was one of the first animals to work at a dress shop in Lawrence...way back in the 70's at Susie Creamcheeze 1008 Mass. He would sleep in the dressing room. Some girls were shy about trying on clothing with him in the room. Sorry I have no pix of him on my puter.

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