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Meet Nicole Kay of Just Cats in East Denver

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Kay.

Nicole, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started Just Cats as an online store in 2016 in Houston, TX. It was a spin-off of a wildly popular pet sitting business I started in 2014 and I saw the need for a retail store that only sold cat-only products. I moved to Denver in 2016 and continued the online store. It wasn’t until one day when I saw an ad on Craigslist in early 2018 that I considered opening a brick and mortar business. I wanted to open a pet supply store for cats for several years now, but saw it impossible as I have a successful day job as an Environmental Scientist. I didn’t want to leave this job, so I opened the small store in Glendale in March of last year to test out the concept without quitting my day job. I guess you can call it a side hustle. Not only did I want to have a pet supply store for cats only, but I also wanted to help cats in need. I decided to have rescue cats live in the store and guests could interact with them as they shopped. If they fell in love, they could adopt them and provide a loving home for them. The first store was 150 sq feet and I found homes for 18 cats in 2018. I decided to take the leap and open a larger store (12o0 sq feet) and have an adoption center inside. I’ve partnered with a local nonprofit that I volunteer for and have cats living in a 150 sq foot cat room in the front of the store called the Just Cats – Cat Cottage. I am the only pet supply store in the area that caters to cats. The closest store is in Dallas, TX and Portland, OR.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. I had people close to me doubt my concept and not be supportive. I’ve had to juggle two full-time jobs and also I foster cats on the side. I also still have the pet-sitting business here in Denver, which hasn’t been as easy to start because of my competition (Rover). I’ve had to risk my savings to start this business and also sacrifice my personal life and free time. The first store that I opened, the landlord decided during the middle of my lease that I could no longer have cats in the store, which was a huge part of why I wanted to start the business so then I was forced to find another commercial space and risk my house and job for this new venture. I also left an 8-year relationship due largely because of this new venture.

Just Cats – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?

Just Cats is the only pet supply store for cats in the Rockies from Canada to Mexico. We are an independent pet store that specializes in high-quality cat food, litter and toys. Not only do we sell cat-approved products, but we also help local cat organizations. We donate money to local animal charities, have fundraisers for projects and supplies, foster cats in and out of the store and build a strong, cat community in Denver. Our mission is to help cats in need and also educate the needs of cats to cat parents. A portion of the sales goes towards helping cats in need and we hope to have 100% of profits go towards charity in the future.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is being able to take risks in life and have no regrets. Success is not always monetary, but it’s how well I can communicate my message to others and what I have done to improve the lives of cats. I daily have emails from people that need my help when it comes to their cats or cats that need my help, whether it be an owner surrender or a friendly feral cat that needs food and shelter.

Contact Info:

 

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Juanita Spears

    May 22, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Extremely proud to call Nicole a friend. She is tireless in her efforts to care for the kittahs.

  2. Danielle

    July 4, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    Nicole is amazing!

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