People go to Summerland Gardens for the plants. They go to see the cats, too. Specifically, one cat.
All day every day, Marley is there, on the front counter or hanging out in a box of seeds or walking around to maybe get someone to pet him. He’s taken to hanging out near the shop’s cockatiel’s cage, too.
No visit to the shop would be complete without Marley, the shop cat.
Summerland Gardens owners Julie McIntyre said she never wanted a shop cat. She already had a shop dog.
But about 12 years ago, a customer asked if McIntyre might want a cat. She said no. Then the customer brought in Marley.
“And that was it,” McIntyre said.
There was no question she was going to keep Marley. She gave him that name because of how mellow he is. He’ll let anyone pet him and never acts out.
His easygoing personality has given him a lot of fans. And maybe the idea that he runs the place.
“He walks around like he knows he’s the boss,” McIntyre said. “He’s like a prince or a king. And this is his domain.”
The shop has started “Marley Mondays,” which is basically just an excuse to post cute photos of Marley and bring a slice of that cuteness to people’s Instagram feeds.
Recently, they went a step further and placed Marley’s face on stickers for sale, with proceeds going to cat shelters.
McIntyre started Summerland Gardens out of her house 15 years ago. She’s grown her hobby into what’s now a popular plant boutique, garden center and coffee bar.
And as she says on her website, “P.S. We have cats.”
Part of her mission with the store is to create a relaxing getaway sort of place, full of kind people and music.
And Marley is a big part of that.
“He’s just good for people,” she said. “In a way, it’s like a stress reliever.”
It happens to her, too.
Each morning when she opens the shop at 806 Arcturus Drive, part of her routine is spending a few minutes with Marley.
“We do our shtick,” she said. “I get coffee and he gets his food, and I pet him. He’s such an integral part of the day.”
He’s there all day. And for when she needs him.
“If we’ve had something stressful happen, it’s like I need a Marley fix,” McIntyre said. “I just need 5 seconds of petting a cat and I’m fine.”
Over the past 12 or so years, those moments have added up to a strong relationship.
“We’re like old friends by now,” McIntyre said, then offered another metaphor: “We’re like an old married couple.”
And she’s happy to share Marley’s love with whoever walks in the door. The shop has two other cats, Cleo and Waldo, that are also welcome surprises to visitors. But Marley is the favorite.
“He’s just a constant presence here,” she said. “He makes people feel better just by being there.”