We are very pleased to present our latest Store Owner Spotlight here on the Store Supply Warehouse Blog. We are always proud to introduce you to our customers who share our passion for offering wonderful products that they are proud to present to everyone.
What do you have when you mix modern day style with retro flair? The answer is Cat's Like Us. Since October 2009, Cat's Like Us has welcomed both an online store and a traditional brick and mortar location offering retro clothing, accessories, and gifts. The owners Julie Ann Davis and her husband Andrew have always loved and collected vintage clothing. Because it was hard to find vintage clothing it in good condition and the sizing was much smaller in the 1940s, 50s and 60s era. They decided that the perfect solution was to offer retro clothing. The best thing about retro clothing is that it is available in the classic styles but with modern fabrics that stretch. What's even better is that they can be found in sizes from XS through XXXL. When asked about their mission the answer is very simple. Julie Ann's personal mission is to outfit customers in clothes that look good and make them feel good. The modern sizing and stretchy comfortable fabrics encourage customers to want to wear the clothes.
With a name like Cat's Like Us, I had to know where the name came from and of course it was a funny story! The name was the hardest part of opening up the store. They had a running list of possibilities ranging from Shindig (which Andrew liked) to The Black Cat, but none of them seemed right. One day while they were listening to a song Cats Like Us from one of their favorite bands the Hillbilly Hellcats, the lyrics described what they wanted their store to be about and the rest as they say is history.
Julie Ann has worked in retail for almost 20 years in both corporate and small local boutiques. She has a Master's Degree in Modern Art History. Andrew has worked as a designer and web developer since 2001 around Buffalo, NY and as a freelance developer. They had been thinking about opening a retail clothing store for some time. When Julie Ann was laid off she decided to use her time to create her dream job. Her experience is in business and retail sales, and Andrew has experience in website development and marketing, so a partnership seemed a great fit.
Cat's Like Us has an eclectic funky vibe that is still very focused and pulled together. When asked about their design strategy they let me know that they envisioned a "retro boutique" with simple displays, bright colors and clean lines like something out of the 50s. Fortunately for them not much has changed in hardware from then to now. The overall inspiration of the store draws from 50's diners and their use of bright colors, black and white tile, and chrome accents.
The store is located on a corner with a lot of window space. The store design is a challenge because it doesn't have a lot of wall space. They always have dress forms in all the windows. Most of the floor space consists of 4-way racks, 2-way racks, and display tables. In one area of the store they have a display wall with vertical shelf brackets mounted to the wall that they can arrange however they want with faceouts, black laminated shelves and hangrail bars. The flexibility is one of the best things they love about their set up. They actually look forward to floor moves!
Since packaging is always an essential part of a business, I wanted to know what type of packaging they used for customer purchases and of course Cat's Like Us offers up some wonderful ideas that are unique and fresh. Since a professional look is essential and their store possesses a boutique atmosphere, each of their customer purchases get wrapped in white tissue paper and placed in paper shopping bags that match the turquoise color of the store. When the purchases require boxes, they are placed in black boxes with polka dot turquoise and white ribbon as "wrapping". They like that the colors match and are very identifiable as Cats Like Us bags, plus they are nice enough that they can reuse them.
When planning special events, Cat's Like Us is always willing to offer events that showcase local artists. Each month they try to have an in-store retro themed event. A few other things that set them apart from the competition is that Julie Ann uses her years of buying experience together with her uncanny sense of practical style and love of classic vintage look when assembling the store's collection. Julie Ann is really good at choosing styles that look great on many different body types. The small size of their business allows them to be very proactive in terms of customer service. They answer the phones and fulfill web orders almost immediately. And of course, they offer free parking! Now how great is that?
I saved the best question for last. Because so many people dream of owning their own businesses I wanted to know what advice they had to offer aspiring business owners. The advice is simple. Andrew was quick to point out that he has learned a few things. If you are going to have both an online and brick and mortar store, have the online store set up first. Always have a business plan and actually refer to it. Have a banker, lawyer and accountant that you like and can rely on.
Would you like to be featured in our next installment of the SSW Store Owner Spotlight? Email Patricia Sims for more information.Please visit Cat's Like Us at 67 Main St Tonawanda, NY 14150.
To reach them by phone: 716-694-6600
On the Web: www.catslikeus.com
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Cats-Like-Us/110506677934