Nuzzles & Co. Adoption Center reopens Saturday
What started out as a goal to rebrand Summit County-based animal rescue Nuzzles & Co nearly two years ago has now grown into a much larger effort to modernize the organization beyond the name change and revamp the whole adoption experience.
After the organization changed its name from Friends of Animals Utah to Nuzzles & Co., board members began brainstorming innovative ways to create a "more friendly and personal experience" for customers when adopting, according to Kathleen Toth, board president.
"When you look at the problem of overpopulation in our state and the country, it’s solvable on two sides: spay and neuter and adoption," Toth said. "We looked at our resources and said, ‘Where can we have the biggest impact in solving the problem?’ While we always worked the spay-and-neuter side, we also have this incredible spot in Tanger Outlet with a ton of foot traffic. We figured let’s work the adoption angle and really go after increasing our numbers."
On Jan. 23, the Nuzzles & Co. adoption center closed its doors while a massive renovation of the more than 2,000-square-foot space took place. The organization has leased a space for approximately $200 a month in the Tanger Outlet Mall for more than 10 years. However, Toth said it "was stuck in the past" and had never been renovated beyond small maintenance repairs.
"It was sort of captured in time and it really did need an overhaul," Toth said. "It wasn’t a great experience for our community. People wouldn’t linger and they would cry when they saw the animals in cages. It felt sad and so we did some soul searching and said that we wanted the organization to take some risks.
"We wanted to make it more of a community center and more welcoming and inviting for our customers," she said. "We created nooks and spaces and a café where we are encouraging our customers to stay and interact with our animals."
The organization will host a grand re-opening this Saturday at noon with a ribbon cutting and other featured events, including a performance by Salt Lake City artist and volunteer Nyah Young, a reading and book signing by Park City author Katie Mullaly, and an appearance by the cat, Pompous Albert, an internet sensation with thousands of followers on social media.
The adoption center’s new design allows more natural light to flood the space, Toth said. Some of the new features include a retail wall with several pet-related items for purchase, along with a mini-coffee bar with pastries. An all-glass communal cat room, BJ’s Romp Room, greets customers when they walk through the doors.
"What we decided to do is make it a lot brighter and more comfortable for the animals by having communal rooms and more inviting for people to come and hang out," Toth said. "I’m a child of the 70s and every indoor mall we used to go to had pet stores. It was pretty routine with my family and friends that when you went to the mall you stopped by the pet store and played with a puppy. And we’ve moved on from pet stores, which is great, but we want to bring back that experience and access to the animals.
"We want people to linger," Toth said. "You’re welcome to go in that room and lay on the floor and get smothered with puppy kisses and then leave. I mean where else can you do that?"
The renovations are being funded by some of the organization’s larger donors through a capital campaign that was launched in February, Toth said, adding that the organization has only spent about $60,000 because most of the equipment, labor and furniture was donated.
"We wanted to create an adoption center that isn’t quite so dingy and doesn’t feel like a second-hand experience," Toth said. "We want people to walk into a really warm and inviting space where they want to stay longer and interact with the animals."
The grand re-opening of the Nuzzles & Co. adoption center is scheduled to take place from noon until 5 p.m. this Saturday. The adoption center is located in Suite B-103 on the lower-level of the shopping center, behind the Calvin Klein store on the southeast end of the building. The adoption center will be open Monday through Friday between noon and 7 p.m. and on the weekends from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
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