Looking for something fun and different for that special someone, or needing a break from the holiday rush yourself? Maybe you’re a loyal supporter of the boutique scene, or inspired by the localization movement to broaden your shopping horizons. This holiday shopping season, try something different on for size. Swing down to “Cats Like Us” on Main Street in Tonawanda, the hip new rockabilly, retro, goth, punk, swing, pin-up and vintage store in town.
Run by husband and wife team Andrew and Julie Ann Davis, the store was a natural evolution of their own love of vintage clothing and lifestyle. Jet back to a time when the soda fountain was a hot spot, cars were an ozone-obliterating work of art, the jukebox a diner standard, and Grease wasn’t just the word, it was a way of life. Welcome to the wonderful world of rockabilly.
"Julie Ann has worked in retail forever, and always wanted to open her own store,” said Andrew. “We went to the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender in Las Vegas, basically the Lollapolloza of the rockabilly / pinup / classic car culture world. We had such a great time that on the plane home we started talking about starting our own store to bring those fashions to Buffalo.”
A longtime fan of the vintage/rockabilly culture, Julie Ann had always been frustrated by the sizing and condition issues with true vintage styles. Because the sizing and materials available were so different “back in the day,” a lot of work can be put into a piece that doesn’t fit any “real” people in the end. The solution? Marry vintage styles with modern materials, and vintage-style clothing was born. Enter “Cats Like Us,” the first store in the Buffalo area to cater to this growing niche market.
Julie Ann and her husband Andrew, a freelance web designer and developer, enjoy living the retro lifestyle, and can be seen modeling their own clothing on their website and facebook pages. Like any modern couple, their interests are as versatile as the clothing they carry. “It's funny because while we really connect with the music and the style we don't necessarily define ourselves that way,” Andrew explained. “For example, Julie Ann loves industrial/EBM music as well as rockabilly, swing and surf. I'm in love with the new MUSE album, which is pretty much 70's glam rock. We like a lot of the simple pleasures of life: great music, great food, and great people.”
So what sort of people can shop at “Cats Like Us,” you ask? Anyone who loves good style and even better quality. “Our shoppers aren't the people who want to spend as little as possible at Wal-Mart. The clothing we carry is stylish and extremely well made, with quality fabrics and metal zippers. A lot of our clothes are made in the U.S.A. as well,” Andrew said proudly. Now that’s true localization.
Anyone can shop there, and pretty much everyone can find something they like. “In store we see high school students that shop for accessories, moms looking for baby onesies, career women looking for something different and classic to wear to the office, men who love bowling styled shirts, and alternative fashion seekers,” said Andrew, mentioning their facebook page shows 85% of their customers are between 25 and 45. “And now that the Cats Like Us web store is online, we are attracting customers from all over the country.”
Recently, Cats Like Us teamed up with local purse designer, Dungaree Dolly, a basement operation with some of the most popular vintage purses around. “She makes all sorts of handbags, change purses, and hair accessories by hand from scratch in fun retro fabrics like Fuzzy Cheetah, Tattoo Flash, and Cupcakes just to name a few,” Andrew raved. “We had a Dungaree Dolly trunk show in November, where she brought in a big variety of merchandise, some things we don't normally carry in our store like dog leashes and aprons and it was a huge success. We plan on having another one in spring.”
Speaking of favorite merchandise, if you’re still stuck on that one person you can never seem to find a gift for, what about Cats Like Us’ “Never Lose Mittens?” Not a single person in Buffalo should venture outside without a trusty pair of hand covers, and these old-school babies come with a string to connect through your sleeves. Fans can reconnect with their childhood and stay connected to not one, but both of their mittens with these fun, quirky stocking stuffers. Not a mitten fan? Check out Andrew and Julie’s collection of funky tiki mugs, accessories for everyone from office dwellers to high schoolers, and even foxy underwear for that special someone. As a last resort, go with the almighty gift card. That way, not only with the recipient have something they can’t return, they can get the full Cats Like us experience themselves!
If you haven’t been inspired to check out the latest addition to Buffalo’s quirky boutique scene, Cats Like Us’ mission statement should help convince you. “Julie Ann's personal mission is to outfit customers in clothes that look good and make them feel good,” said Andrew. “I'm constantly delighted by the people we meet, that if we had not opened the store we never would have met.”
Cats Like Us is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10am-6pm, Thursday through Saturday 10am-8pm and closed Sundays and Mondays. On Christmas Eve and New Years Eve they will be open 10am-5pm and 10am-5pm on December 26th. No time for shopping this late in the game? Go online to www.catslikeus.com or find them on facebook to get a taste of the hippiest cats in town.