For those Abyfans who do not live in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday,” is a day of publicly sanctioned insanity and celebration of the true American pastime: Shopping. Supposedly, most people’s holiday shopping happens all in one go on this day, which I just don’t get. I start Christmas shopping for each person as soon as their birthday is past; I haven’t got enough money to buy everything in one month!
I’ve also never understood the drive that motivates people to get up and be someplace at 4am to spend their money when, the other 364 days of the year, they can barely manage to get themselves out of bed by 6:30 to get to the job that pays them money. I mean, I love to shop, but seriously? 4am? That’s what we have the internet for, and you don’t even have to put on shoes to do it.
But, if you do plan to venture out, where do you go? What awesome local pet stores do you have in your town? When I go on vacations, I try to seek out local pet boutiques. I’ve actually gone to pet stores (or cat specialty stores) in Stockholm, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and Seoul, as well as New York, San Francisco, Key West, Chicago, Montréal and Seattle. It’s always fun to see what other pet stores have; many items they carry are regional, or locally made, so you can find things you may not be able to get at home.
A few of my favourite stores from my travels include:
San Francisco: George, on California at Fillmore, is mainly dog-oriented, but they have some great cat items. I bought a Cubeycat in 1997 for my Siamese Harri and Patrick, and, for whatever reason, it’s still on of the most popular toys in the house today. Currently, it’s in the bedroom right now, still popular 13 years later…not bad for $10!
Barry for Pets, nearby on Fillmore between Bush and Sutter is more of a neighbourhood store; I used to shop here when I lived in San Francisco, and we stopped in this summer when we were on vacation. It’s small, but it has some great cat toys.
New York City: The first time I went to NYC in 1996, I had to visit Just Cats Inc. in the Upper East Side on 60th (near Bloomingdale’s and Serendipity, and also the Roosevelt Island Tram). I’d read all about in Cat Fancy, so it was a must-see stop on my list. Also nearby are Pets on Lex and American Kennels. This was long before the pet boutique boom, but they are all still there (American Kennels has occupied their space since 1954). These stores do sell kittens (including Abys!), so keep that in mind; they also sell toys and supplies.
Key West: Key West is known for its cats, and when we stopped here on our honeymoon cruise, we fell in love with a shop called The Blue Cat. This store collects photos of cats from around the world, sent in by people who have shopped here. I found an incredible T-shirt here with an Abyssinian graphic that literally took my breath away.
Seoul: In Seoul, it’s not one pet shop you visit, it’s a neighbourhood. Chungmuro (충무로) Street is famous for its concentration of pet stores along its 1.75km. We saw kittens for sale (mostly Siamese, Persians and Scottish Folds), and I bought one of the best leashes I’ve ever found there.
Tokyo: No contest. Pet City in the Venus Fort shopping center, in Palettetown, Odubai, is a definite must see. Venus Fort is actually a super cool mall, which allows pets – on the first floor, they can walk around on leashes, and on the upper floors, they can be carried in bags. The pet shop itself is busy on weekends; many Japanese live where they cannot have pets, so they flock to Pet City to see cats and dogs. When we went, there were two Aby kittens in a playpen (I wish I had been brave enough to take photos)! Pets there were incredibly expensive, but well cared for. The clothing selection was impressive and took up about half the floorspace.
I know it sounds like an odd thing to do, visit a pet store on a trip to Tokyo, but you won’t regret the time you spend here. Or the money…of course we spent at least $100 on collars made from kimono fabric, catnip toys, and colourful cans of cat food. We also saw the infamous “Cat Smack” while we were there.
Stockholm: When I went to visit my friends Björn and Titti, they made sure to take me to Katt! Katt!. Hidden inside a building that looks like a castle, it is a shrine to all things feline. The best cat toy I’ve ever bought, a Sami reindeer fur toy, hung on our cat tree until it went into storage.
And, if you’re ever in Boston, we have a new shop in Back Bay named Pawsh. Jake and I haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
One final note: LL Bean has just added a new Faux-Shearling Jacket for Dogs! I’ve ordered one for Jacoby already; it matches the Faux-Shearling Coat I bought for myself a few years ago perfectly! You can also get it monogrammed, and LL Bean is offering free shipping until December 20. Also, through Monday Nov. 29, you can save an additional 10% using the code “LLBEANFRIENDS10” at checkout.