Nora Yockey and Damond Gallagher have one goal: to make you happy, no matter how old you are. If you've ever set foot in , the card and gift shop owned by the couple, who were married on July 11th after 13 years together, you'll know that they've succeeded, with flying colors.
"We both have a background in theater production, and running the store is like putting on a show, every day," said Nora. "The experience needs to be fun, creative, and interesting."
Scaredy Kat first opened its doors back in 1999, in the tiny storefront a block away from their current one, next to on Fifth Avenue between President and Union streets. After three years they moved into a slightly larger space, where Lotus Vietnamese is now, and seven years later, in July 2009, they moved into their current location, a much larger storefront on Fifth between Carroll and President.
"Back in 1999, some people didn't even consider Fifth Avenue a part of Park Slope," said Damond.
"We saw what looked like the potential for a thriving commercial strip, though, so we took the risk," added Nora. "The avenue has grown beyond our wildest dreams, and we've responded by growing as well."
Aside from growing in the literal sense, the mom and pop shop's offerings have expanded over the years, from greeting cards and stationery to candles, toys, picture frames, candy, children's books, sidewalk chalk, and some of the zaniest gifts I've ever seen, including flash drives shaped like R2-D2 and Batman, and a zip-up pouch shaped like a bagel with lox and cream cheese.
"We've responded to the neighborhood's needs," explained Nora. "We're always listening to the suggestions of visitors, and are look for things that are interesting and different. We know it when we see it."
"Our priority is to remain affordable and accessible," said Damond. "We want our guests to be able to come here daily, as opposed to just special occasions."
If your idea of greeting cards doesn't veer much from your standard Hallmark fare, a trip to Scaredy Kat will be a breath of fresh air. Cards were the first items they sold (many of which designed by Damond himself), and the hundreds of unique cards available for every occasion are still a standout, and nearly impossible to find elsewhere.
Damond and Nora attend the gift and stationery show each year, and use the opportunity to stock up on new merchandise and check in with folks who have become old friends, including the owners of Greenpoint-based Seltzer Goods.
"Some of these card companies were just starting out at the same time that we were, so we've grown together," said Nora.
It's clear that the merchandise keeps Damond and Nora young at heart, and that dedication to simple fun carries over to everyone who enters the store.
"We've added toys as the neighborhood becomes more kid-friendly, but look for things that evoke our childhood as well," explained Damond.
"We're most proud of the fact that we've really become a part of people's lives," he went on. "Kids who we sold birth announcements for are now 12, and we love the fact that we get to see our customers grow up with us."
"And we get to buy stickers!" added Nora, with a giggle.