Neighbourly help for Cat House following devastating Stadium Shopping Centre fire
The owners of a popular northwest pet supply store hope to reopen in a new location mere months after the business was destroyed by fire. Now. the transition is receiving support from an organization known for offering a hand to those in need.
Joanne Wegiel, the co-owner of the Cat House, continues to scour northwest Calgary for a suitable spot to relaunch the business that had been a fixture of the Stadium Shopping Centre.
“We have been very actively looking since the first week after the fire,” explained Wegiel. “We would like to stay in the northwest because that’s what our customers want.”
“I’m really hoping that within the next month we’ll be able to announce the location.”
In an attempt to keep staff morale and camaraderie intact, Wegiel had an idea to arrange a once-a-week meeting where the employees could begin to replenish its stock of the popular handmade toys the store, which opened in 1991, was known for.
“We do supply our toys not only for our store but also for cat rescue groups in Calgary and other provinces, even in the states,” said Wegiel. “Our toys have helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for rescue groups. We sell it to them wholesale, they retail it and keep the funds.”
“In the fire, so many of our toys had been built up in order to fill these orders. Thousands upon thousands of these toys were destroyed.”
While considering spots for the Cat House gatherings, Wegiel noticed an empty storage room in the Goodwill Donation Centre in the Stadium Shopping Centre just doors from where her business had stood. Goodwill was quick to offer the displaced Cat House staff the use of a larger, furnished room every Sunday afternoon.
“It doesn’t interfere with our operations and, if we can help somebody transition back to success, it makes terrific sense,” said Dale Monaghan, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Alberta. “For as long as she needs (the room), she’ll have access to it. We hope we can do more.”
Monaghan says Wegiel is a wonderful, wonderful human being citing the inclusive employer’s philanthropic work. Goodwill is more than willing to help her out during a difficult time.
“It’s about a wonderful community person having less to worry about,” said Monaghan. “It’s an opportunity for her to have a little pressure taken off, a little (less) worry over what really nobody should have to go through personally or professionally,”
Wegiel remains motivated by the phone calls and emails she receives from her customers, and their cats, who eagerly await the reopening of the Cat House. The co-owner of the Cat House continues to build stock of the homemade toys and several of her suppliers have offered support.
“We’ve had suppliers who have said to us that they’ll give us longer terms when we reopen,” said Wegiel. “Some have even offered some free stock when we reopen.’
“It’s really amazing how people have come forward to help us.”
Support for the business continues to pour in from the public as a GoFundMe fundraiser for the Cat House recently exceeded its goal of $25,000.