Lining one wall in Luverne Ace Hardware in Luverne, Minnesota, are a bank of kennels, the temporary homes of cats and kittens up for adoption. The store partners with the Tracy Area Animal Rescue to find homes for the furry felines.
The partnership started in March 2020, when Luverne Ace Hardware added a store cat to its roster of helpful employees, says operations manager Renita Enninga. She reached out to Tracy Area Animal Rescue to help her find the perfect outgoing cat for the store.
“We had heard of other stores having store cats and because most of our staff loved cats, we wanted to join that trend,” Enninga says.
Once Ace the cat joined the team, the store began hosting meet and greets for the Tracy Area Animal Rescue. The rescue does not have a brick-and-mortar location and fosters all the animals at private homes, making it harder for potential families to meet and adopt them.
Last January, the rescue approached Enninga and asked if they could put a kennel in the store. She said yes immediately, and it only took a couple days for the first cat to find a new home. The store now has three kennels and a rotation of cats up for adoption and has helped 35 cats find happy homes.
“We thought maybe we would be able to help out the rescue with a dozen adoptions at best but the support has been amazing, and everyone is always trying to find the newest kitty a home,” Enninga says. “Our shortest stay was one day and our longest has been one month. When we post a new cat to our Facebook page it gets shared all over right away.”
The partnership has brought joy to the employees of Luverne Ace Hardware but has also helped the operation engage with customers. Enninga says they have customers stop in almost every day to see if a new cat has arrived or to visit one they can’t wait to find out has found a new home. Pet supply sales have increased, and she has seen a number of new customers come through the door to see the cats.
“We hear all the time, ‘I can’t believe you offer so much more than just hardware here,’” Enninga says. “We get to be the place where they found their new best friend. Kids love coming into the store and will beg their parents to stop in. We are finding the next generation of shoppers every chance we get.”
The cats also contribute to the positive company culture.
“Our employees love these cats,” Enninga says. “When someone is having a bad day, all it takes is a few minutes with one of these foster cats and their moods change so much. We still have our Ace, and she is awesome for lifting our moods, but helping these cats that have not found their place yet does wonders for the moral.”