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Ace Hardware’s pets popular among shoppers

November 29, 2018

Ace Hardware is home to David City’s two smallest celebrities.

Shoppers visiting the hardware store at 443 N. Fourth St. are often greeted by the furriest and laziest employees the store has to offer: Kitty Purry and Chewy.

“People come in here just to see the cats. People bring them treats and stuff,” Store manager Erin Hotovy said. “It’s fun. They attract a lot of attention.”

Hotovy said he knew he wanted to get a cat for the downtown business before it opened several years ago. He said hardware stores have a long history of allowing pets and that he wanted to take part in the tradition.

A few months after opening, he went to a rescue shelter in York and took home Kitty Purry, or Kitty, for short. She is believed to be about 12 and her name comes from a competition the store hosted on Facebook.

“We just wanted an old, set in her ways cat, which she certainly is,” Hotovy said.

Last year, a customer and friend of Hotovy was trying to give away a litter of cats and Hotovy said his employees talked him into adopting one. They named her Chewy, after the “Star Wars” character.

The two cats continue to call the hardware store their home. Hotovy said Kitty likes to sleep a lot, especially in front of the store windows in the warm sun. Chewy, on the other hand, is a lot more rambunctious. Right now Ace employees are having trouble keeping her out of the store’s Christmas trees.

“She likes to hide in little nooks and crannies,” Assistant Manager Hailey Sklenar said about Chewy. “Usually if you can’t find them, you just shake a bag of treats and they just come running.”

Sklenar said the cats tend to jump up on the counters and nap on shelves and boxes. Sometimes customs will mistake them for statues of stuffed animals until they move.

Despite being in the store 24/7, a lot of times without supervision, the cats don’t make much of a mess. Hotovy said they tend to leave store inventory alone and they rarely have to clean up after the furry duo.

“The thing that amazes me is that we’ve had a shockingly small amount of destruction caused by them,” Hotovy said. “They really don’t mess with anything.”

During the summer Kitty got outside and was lost, so store officials reached out to the community on Facebook for help and many wrote on the website of their concern for her.

“Oh no! I hope you find her soon,” Jenny White wrote on Facebook. “I enjoy seeing her when I come in and have always envied her simple, pampered life.”

Hotovy said he was surprised by how much attention the store received from Kitty disappearing.

“The amount of traction we got from this cat being missing was absolutely astounding,” Hotovy said.

After missing for a week, Kitty was found.

“Thank heavens! I’ve been worried sick about her,” Connie Didier wrote on Facebook.

She was picked up less than a block away from her home.

“I sure wish she could tell us what she was doing while she was out cattin’ around,” White wrote. “But so glad she’s come back home.”

When it comes to interacting with customers, Hotovy said the two handle the attention quite well. He said that sometimes kids will convince their parents to take them to the store just to play with Kitty and Chewy. When not receiving attention, the two girls live a fairly relaxed existence.

“They’re pretty spoiled. They’ve got a pretty easy life,” Hotovy said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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