Cheryl Franklin is, by every definition, a cat person. She has four cats—two with special needs—is a professional cat-sitter, and runs the most feline-focused shop I’ve ever seen. For nearly three decades, she has been the ultimate cat curator of the Cincinnati area. Her shop, Confetti Cats, currently resides in the cute, small-town feel of Newtown, Ohio, a village located on the east side of the city. When you picture Newtown, it’s hard to believe it’s located in a major metropolitan city; the population is somewhere around 3,000 and the main street is, in fact, Main Street.
And Main Street is where Franklin has set up shop for her cat-loving customers, but it wasn’t the first location. “When challenged with renting, one may have to move,” she said of her repeat relocation. “Being a specialty boutique, no matter where the shop has been located, it remains a destination with a loyal base of customers.”
While Confetti Cats has been open since September, 1991, she’s been at her current location since March of 2015. It’s centrally located for her current customer base, offers parking — which is a huge bonus for customers — and is a free-standing building surrounded by other independent businesses. “Light streams in the front and side windows, and filters in from other directions, making the colors and shapes on the shelves come to life,” reads her Confetti Cats website. These are just a few of Franklin’s favorite things about her shop’s Main Street home. That, and the charm of the surrounding area.
And it is, in fact, incredibly charming. The village has such a friendly, neighborhood vibe that it’s easy to visualize the summertime soirees and Lent-time fish fries.
Inside Franklin’s shop, sit three rooms of everything cat owners could possibly want for their home. It’s somewhat of a feline mecca for cat owners, and is full of incredible gifting options for non-cat owners to purchase if they need inspiration. “I set the rooms up by my ‘creative’ spirit,” said Franklin. “What feels right at the time. There are some products, such as ornaments, greeting cards, sympathy-related, toys and cat foods, that I try to keep together.”
And there’s a lot to keep together. Franklin has no shortage of product offerings for any cat owner’s style, and as the proprietor, she seems to know exactly what each and every one of her customers want. “I try to offer a story with many of the items. Where (it’s) from, how (it’s) used, outside-the-box ideas for the product … whatever feels right at the time for that customer,” she said.
- Gifts for cat owners: socks, t-shirts, note packs and whimsical cats on anything
- Food & treats: Transitioning into Nulo products, which is a grain-free, premium brand for independent dealers.
- Toys for cats: Catnip cigars, carrots and jumbo tails. Cat charmers and Da Bird Flyer have all been popular since the beginning.
- Miscellaneous items: Feeding dishes and mats.
She has her loyal customers, but she too is somewhat of a loyal customer. When it comes to which products or brands she carries, that is. Franklin tries to work with cottage industries, which help make her shop unique. It can be challenging sometimes, however, when a company goes out of business. But product-wise, she seems to be loyal to big sellers, like mugs, stationery items, t-shirts and other accessories, along with pillows and décor pieces.
Franklin finds these pieces often in pet and giftware industry magazines, but she also finds these resources incredibly valuable when it comes to product layouts. They can often give her inspiration for displays; she frequently rearranges her window and tables, whenever the mood strikes her.
Franklin has been enjoying the previous 27 years in the cat-specific retail business. In the next five years, she hopes to continue offering an artsy, whimsical retail setting where she can share her love for cats, introduce artists and shelter groups, and share information related to the feline world.