Stores With Stories: Cats Like Us

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on | Last Updated

Walking into clothing boutique Cats Like Us is like walking into the 1950’s. The décor of turquoise, black and white checkerboard floor, and colorful 45s adding pops of color to the walls sets an energetic and colorful shopping mood. There’s a Rydell High (à la Happy Days television series) pennant displayed prominently and the music playing through the store’s hi-fi is a mix of rockabilly, and swing. The clothing for guys and dolls is a mix of authentic vintage pieces and spot-on reproductions.

Married couple Julie Ann Davis and Andrew Davis opened their boutique in 2009, first on Hertel Avenue before migrating to a highly-visible corner storefront in the City of Tonawanda. Cats Like Us is located in an intact historic section of the city near the Erie Canal, and along what has been dubbed “Retro Block” – other like-minded businesses that love the fun flare of the Fifties. 

Inspiration for the shop’s name came to Julie Ann and Andrew while attending the annual rockabilly convention in Vegas: Viva Las Vegas. After hearing the band Hillbilly Hellcats perform their song “Cats Like Us,” they knew they’d found their business’s name: both are confirmed lovers of rockabilly – and cats. And, lest you’re wondering, they don’t take in stray cats at the store, a fact mentioned on their website.

Women’s clothing – a bevy of dresses and skirts – is ready to be paired with well-curated jewelry, sweaters, and one-of-a-kind, vintage handbags. Cats Like Us also sells crinolines, sunglasses, and fishnet stockings in an array of colors; their girl-cut t-shirts embrace the retro aesthetic. 

Men’s vintage silk ties, western-style shirts, vivid Hawaiian shirts and more fill the racks near a display of several lines of pomades for various degrees of hold for flattops and pompadours. The boutique sells fun, cheeky socks for men and women, as well as an array of gift items like flasks, rockabilly CDs, and their own turquoise-colored swizzle sticks shaped like their iconic Cats Like Us pinup girl – in sets of six.

Julie Ann and Andrew get customers regularly from far and wide, many times tourists who’ve spent some time at Niagara Falls and are looking for local experiences, and shops. They report that they’ve had shoppers in from Germany, Rochester, Albany, and throughout Canada. Cats Like Us offers in-store, curbside pickup, and online shopping: many of their orders are shipped to California. 

“The cut of vintage 50’s dresses is flattering, fit and flare is so feminine,” Julie Ann says. Andrew adds “There are a lot of guys and girls who like these styles, especially fans of rockabilly. A lot of local swing dancers want true vintage, something that’s unique. We sell everything from casual to dressy here – we are a small operation, but we’re lean, mean, and cater to this specific stylistic niche.”

Cats Like Us / 67 Main Street, Tonawanda / / 716-694-6600
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Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.