Some say there are two kinds of people: people who like cats and people who don't.
With Elizabeth Toms, you never have to guess.
Toms recently re-opened Happicats
—a cat-inspired gift and collectible shop in downtown Williamston. It was a store, she says, that was a fixture on the city's main street from 1981 to 2005 until her mother and store owner Evelyn retired from retail.
"I had worked alongside my mom as my own children grew," says Toms. "She played a large part in my deciding to continue the business today."
Shortly after her mother retired, Toms closed the brick-and-mortar storefront and migrated Happicats to the virtual world. She operated the online shop for two years, then returned to face-to-face retail through booth operations in neighboring towns. In mid-2013, she opted again for the comfort of an old-fashioned shop, and rehung the Happicats shingle close to her mother's previous locale.
"Since then, I've met new cat lovers as well as rekindled relationships with loyal customers from the past," says Toms, who cut the store's ribbon at 133 E. Grand River Ave. in January 2014. "My daughter Melissa is a great help most days, and my husband Jim's lifting ability is priceless."
Toms repainted and laid new carpet and filled the 1,000 square feet with with cat-related wares, antiques, collectibles and vintage clothing. New items include cat motif needlepoint pillows, tea sets, Kliban cat items, designer T-shirts from Laurel Burch, as well as feline-inspired vintage Ganz and Henriksen imports ceramics. Toms says she's constantly on the lookout for antique and used items with cat themes, attending auctions, estate sales, and scouring other antique or used merchandise stores.
"I love cats," says Toms. "Everyone in our family does, too. We have three: Duke is 20, Jade is 10, and Keekee is 2."
Source: Elizabeth Toms, Owner, Happicats
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor