This is the story of a cat and his bookstore. A mostly black cat who is, by the way, named Frank and has an admirable work ethic. Frank, who is impeccably cute has consistently shown up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Next Page Books in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This kitty is so dependable, in fact, that he has his very own special corner inside the bookstore, says his cat dad Bart Carithers.
Dubbed “Frank’s Corner” (what else?) Frank has his very own line of cat-themed books, cards, coffee mugs, and a bevy of other cat-related items.
“He’s become the face of the bookstore,” says Bart, who bought the bookstore in December, 2015. “He’s a fixture here.”
And he’s a cute fixture at that.
Customers Have Fallen In Love With Frank
The little bookstore is thriving, despite the pandemic, the continuing rise of Amazon, and as bookstores continue to close. While it was probably tempting, Carithers resisted the idea of moving his store to a website, and his sweet kitty Frank has become the adorable embodiment of the in-person retail experience, The Lacrosse Tribune reports. And Frank excels at this, building personal connections that bring customers back.
With the advent of the internet, we’re bombarded with literature everywhere, and adorable Frank offers customers a chance to pet him, to slow down a little bit, a little more time to enjoy their day. And most customers, Bart says, often don’t know what they’re looking for when they come in.
“This was about an experience,” he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “as opposed to sitting in front of a screen or a phone.”
And adding Frank’s Corner shows just how valuable this remarkable cat really is. During its opening weekend, Frank’s Corner raised nearly $500 for the Iowa Humane Alliance. This was through a combination of 10 percent of net sales and through donations added to a jar next to the cash register. Adding the little corner has been a definite improvement. On a typical Saturday during this time of the year sales would definitely be considerably less, Bart says.
Before opening Next Page Books, Carithers spent a couple of years working in daily news but he grew tired of the tedious, usually dreary news. He wanted to do something fun and enjoyable, something that highlighted the joy that books often bring to us. And as the pandemic wore on, it seemed to have little effect on this inimitable little bookstore — although cat and cat dad did work from home for a little while.
Frank Is A Multitasker
And sweet Frank is a cat of many talents who has several jobs at the bookstore, including marketing, advertising, and social media mascot. But what he really does best is to bring customers out of themselves, in that mysterious way that cats do with people.
“Most people will immediately stop and pause and either try to talk to him or try to pet him. People are attracted to animals in general,” Bart says. “It helps create an inviting atmosphere. For people who have never been in before, it’s a conversation starter.”
Frank is definitely one highly valued employee and he reaps the benefits that this brings. Those benefits include cat treats, climbing up the bookshelf ladder for a nap, and watching birds from the window. Oh, and he has his favorite toys: his blue mouse and crumpled pieces of paper.
He’s always happy to climb into his carrier to go to work and almost never misses a day. There’s only one very minor drawback: He loves to steal his cat dad’s chair but he never knocks over displays of items that would likely be pretty tempting for most cats.
This lovable cat was rescued as a feral kitten when he was just four weeks old. He was introduced to Carithers by a customer four years ago. He began making his rounds to the book store when he was about four months old.
The People Connection
Now he’s so popular that some customers will simply leave if he’s not there, Bart says.
So what’s the biggest way Frank has helped his cat dad? Well, it turns out he’s definitely good at helping with stress management.
“People ask ‘aren’t you stressed?” Carithers says. He works seven days a week, and even though he’s 64, he definitely doesn’t want to retire.
“Not really,” he tells customers, “because I don’t really know what to be stressed about. I’m having the time of my life here. I’m enjoying this so much.”
Below, we see Frank’s efforts at being a “work buddy.”
“Work buddy. Not much help but good company.”
“Frank’s not feelin’ today’s display book.”
Frank seems happy too. After all, he gets so much love and attention from book lovers, all kinds of treats, comfy places for napping, and plenty of home time with dad.
Not bad. Not bad at all.