Although it’s a not a retail operation, Puffy Paws Kitty Haven
- also known as “The World’s Greatest Cathouse” - follows a business model that’s rather offbeat and quirky, and pretty cool.
Established in 2006 as a nonprofit organization in Englewood, Fla., by husband and wife kitty lovers Rick and Chris Kingston, this no-kill shelter (the only one in its county) provides hospice care for about 130 special needs cats that may have any number of physical health or behavioral issues that render them unlikely to get adopted.
The shelter also houses 100 adoptable kitties. Although the cost to the shelter to get these kitties ready for adoption is $120 each, Puffy Paws only charges $75; the costs are defrayed through donations.
So this really is a labor of “Mad Kitty Love” per the shelter’s motto.
The Cat’s Meow of Nonprofit Organizations
While Rick and Chris do largely rely on – and encourage – donations to keep this unique animal rescue operation running, they have also come up with some creative ways to raise funds via products and services marketing.
Sales of Donated Goods.
Although not technically a thrift shop, the Cathouse/Kitty Haven operates a store
out of a storage unit off of San Casa Road where people can acquire various donated items by making donations to help the kitties.
In a further effort to set itself apart, Puffy Paws has established its shop as “Englewood’s Strangest Store,” due to the many offbeat items available there.
The store carries such items as a never-worn wedding dress a guy donated after his nuptials got called off (displayed on a stuffed bunny rabbit); vintage soda glasses, old 45 records, comic books and various other unique collectibles.
People are invited to donate their unwanted goods to help the store.
Some items are also available through eBay and an online store
, through which one can purchase such wacky collectibles and gag gifts
as a Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure, which comes with six toy kitties, and cat butt beverage coasters.
So it’s a pretty unique non-retail concept.
Virtual Kitty Adoptions.
This is another highly creative concept that’s similar in principle to those “sponsor a needy child” programs often promoted on late night TV.
People can sponsor a kitty, which remains housed at the shelter, for $10 to $100 a month. Each adoption comes with a certificate and regular updates about the specific pets.
This is a great way to defray the costs of the care for these otherwise un-adoptable pets, which is yet another reason why this is such a great business model.
Other businesses can advertise.
In another resourceful move, Puffy Paws offers advertising on its Web site. The site also contains a business directory
and three different yearly packages - for tax deductible donations of $100, $150 or $200 - from which to choose.
Rick, who is a graphic artist, designs the ads.
While many of ads are for those in the pet industry, the majority are for non-related businesses such as restaurants, auto sales, people beauty salons and more.
In addition, Rick offers custom-designed, one-of-a-kind business cards available for a donation of $125 for 1,000 or $250 for 5,000.
All of this goes to supporting the shelter.
Puffy Paws leaves no stone unturned when it comes to promoting
the shelter via:
At this writing, the shelter had more than 3,000 “likes” on Facebook. They also have a presence on Twitter, YouTube and MySpace.
Plus, Puffy Paws has a rather kitschy Web site that is jam-packed with concise information that effectively tugs at the old heartstrings, with a healthy dose of humor.
Meanwhile, 100 percent of every dime goes to supporting the shelter.
This truly is an amazing operation that is arguably the greatest labor of love I have ever encountered.
It just goes to show that passion and a sense of purpose are the most important components to any business, especially those related to critters.