WICKER PARK — A boutique benefiting an animal rescue nonprofit has opened in Wicker Park, and there’s a furry twist: Cats roam the store during business hours.
Tortie & Co., 1468 N. Ashland Ave., is the latest project from animal rescue nonprofit One Tail At A Time.
The boutique sells housewares, paper goods, candles and ceramics, as well as pet products. All proceeds from the store will support One Tail At A Time’s animal foster programs in Chicago.
“There are so many animals in shelters that need our help. And many of them have extra veterinarian needs. … Those funds can help us take those animals and care for them,” said Heather Owen, executive director of One Tail at a Time.
Owen said depending on their temperament and availability, as many as 10 cats can be found roaming around the store at any given time. Petting and playing is encouraged, and customers can even adopt them.
“We might have several adults integrated, or we might just have a single cat who doesn’t like other animals. So we’re going to try to showcase a lot of our cats, the ones with different needs,” Owen said. “People can interact with them and hang out. And if they have a connection, they could fill out an application.”
During the pandemic, animal adoption skyrocketed, and One Tail At A Time saw a surge in interest.
“In 2019, before things hit, we rescued about 950 animals that year. The next year, 2020, we rescued almost 1,900,” Owen said.
While adoption rates have remained high in 2021, Owen said her organization has seen an influx of cats in shelters. Part of Tortie & Co.’s mission is to find them loving homes.
“The reality is a lot of people dropped off because they either got a pet or they’re going back to work or they’re just too busy traveling. So the animals that are in the shelters are going to be the ones suffering because of that,” she said.
Tortie & Co.’s name was inspired by a specific cat named Patches, who has tortoiseshell fur coat, or “tortie.”
“We have Patches, who is a tortie in our care who is very special. She’s very naughty. And we tend to like the naughty cats and dogs here at One Tail At A Time,” Owen said. “She has a special place in a lot of our hearts. So we named it after Patches.”
Tortie & Co. is open 2-7 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends.
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