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The cat’s meow: Feline-themed antique store opening in Winooski

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) - A new business in Winooski caters to old-fashioned cat lovers.

It seems like there’s always another box of cat collectibles. Jaye MacAskill and her husband, Joe, have been unpacking for months getting ready to open up Catland Vintage in Winooski. The funky, whimsical store is a tribute to 10 years of chasing her twin loves: cats and antiques.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: So you collected all of these yourself?

Jaye MacAskill: We did, primarily at estate sales.

Joe MacAskill: We’d get up at five in the morning and go to estate sales and try to be the first in line to get all this.

Jaye admits the figurines, mostly from the post-World War II era, are frivolous. That’s what she loves about them.

Jaye MacAskill: It makes me feel good. It just gives you a warm feeling, especially if you’re a cat lover.

Cat Viglienzoni: I mean, obviously I like cats, but why cats?

Jaye MacAskill: I’m just a cat person... I thought I’ll just narrow it down to cats. That’ll keep me honest. It won’t get too out of control. Then it got out of control.

So into the boxes the cats went and moved with the MacAskills across the country last year when they traded San Diego for Burlington during the pandemic.

Jaye MacAskill: The cats just keep coming.

Joe MacAskill: It’s like in real life.

And when they didn’t have room for all the collectible cats in their home, they decided to find the kitties new homes.

“It just at some point became an imperative. When you have this much cat stuff, you have to do something with it or look a little crazy,” Jaye said.

From that crazy idea, Catland Vintage was born.

“We wanted to make it sound like a destination like Disneyland or Dollyworld, it’s like Catland, like we need to go to Catland,” Joe said.

So, they found a former cobbler shop on West Canal Street in Winooski this past winter and spent months restoring the vintage look inside.

Former customers still stop by.

“We get people walking in, shoes in hand, and they look confused,” Jaye said.

“People still come in asking where the cobbler is. To the point where maybe we just need to learn to cobble and offer that. Cats and cobbling, I don’t know,” Joe laughed.

“Part of the problem may be that we left up the shoe repair sign in the window-- which features a cat on it,” Jaye said.

That’ll do it! And while it isn’t just cats in the store, it’s a niche market.

Cat Viglienzoni: I have to ask, is there a market for something like this?

Jaye MacAskill: Well, we hope so... We’re fairly savvy marketers and so we know people love cats. So that’s how we’re getting them. That’s how we’re getting them in the door... That’s our gimmick.

Joe MacAskill: I’m almost afraid that after the first week we’re open the shelves will be empty and we’ll have to go find more cats.

The couple, who says they’re new to retail, hopes what they’ve hand-picked over the years will be the cat’s pajamas for someone else, too.

Catland Vintage celebrates its grand opening on Friday. It’s also the one-year anniversary of the MacAskills moving to Vermont.

Catland Vintage is one of several new businesses to fill empty storefronts in Winooski.

Rosie’s Confections is moving in next door, a new restaurant planned for the former Tiny Thai spot, and the Archives bar opened up its second location across the circle.

I asked the MacAskills what the draw was for them.

Cat Viglienzoni: So why did you choose Winooski, of all the places you could put your business?

Jaye MacAskill: Well, Winooski is just a funky little town... It’s just a good example of how a community can take advantage of the resources it has, the built environment, to create a really neat destination for recreation.

Joe MacAskill: Winooski has Winooski Wednesdays, there’s the farmers market, everyone really does get involved and it’s so nice to be a part of that.

The MacAskills also say they think the pandemic helped them snag the spot for Catland Vintage because they think there would have been more competition for it otherwise.

They say they’re glad to be bringing something unique to the area.

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