BROOKFIELD, Wisconsin (AP) — When Sheila Tearny was three years old, she told her mother she would own a “real business” one day.
According to her, that day has come.
Specifically, February 19, 2008. That’s exactly 10 years after Sheila opened her novelty habberdashery, Hats for Cats, in downtown Brookfield. Why wasn’t the store a “real business” yesterday?
“Look at the sign on the front of the store–Making Hats for Cats Since 1998. Yesterday, people walked past the store thinking if they want a hat for their cat, they should go to someplace a little more established. Today they walk past and think, wow, 10 years? That place must know how to make hats for cats.”
Sheila groomed a small tabby while she spoke. “I’m just happy that the time flew by. When I started the place, I knew no one would take us seriously until we were around for a while. I thought 5 years would be all I needed. But 2003 rolled around, and you know what? 5 years don’t look like much. I’ve had headaches last longer. But 10? 10 is a long time.”
Stores in Brookfield take pride in announcing how long they’ve existed. Michaelangelo’s Pizza, owned by war veteran Mike Johnson, has a neon sign proclaiming “Established 1975” on the front window. Next door is a fudgery/barber shop with a plaque reading “Circa 1932” on the door. And across the street from Hats for Cats is an Antiques ‘N Things with the date “2006” stamped on a signpost.
“Just don’t seem right,” Sheila said, pointing her chin at the antiques store. “A store that young, selling old stuff. They need to wait a few years.”
Although she didn’t start making hats for cats until 1998, Sheila dabbled in habberdashery during her younger years. She made “at least four” Easter Sunday hats for her mother when she was in elementary school.
“Back in 2002, when Hats for Cats just hadn’t been around long enough, I thought about changing the date of origin to sometime back in the ’80s. You know, ’cause I been making hats since then and all. Companies do it all the time. Like, maybe Macy’s hasn’t been around since 1890, but they’ve bought a store that existed back then. That counts for something. But I figured I just had to be patient.”
Sheila continued. “Say you walk into a store and see two boxes of chocolates. One company’s been making chocolates since 1967 and the other since 1977. Which one are you going to choose? Always the older one. They’ve had more time to figure out how to make good chocolates. Same with hats for cats. Would you by a hat for your cat if the hatmaker’s only been doing it for three years? I sure as hell wouldn’t. Not on Purrfecta’s life.”
When asked what was next for Hats for Cats, Sheila merely winked. “Only time can tell,” she said. “Come back in 10 years and look at my storefront. In 2018, this store will seem older and more established than ever before.”
Copyright 2008 The Ass Press.