By Robbie Johnson Weinberg, Co-Owner, Director of Operations
I was in New Orleans on Friday, January 26, 2018 and had just finished a fantastic dinner with my husband and son at Galatoire’s when I peaked at my Nextdoor app to see if what I had hoped before dinner had actually materialized. “MR. POTTS IS FOUND!” I exclaimed to my startled family, as we walked back along the always funky-smelling, gas-lit Royal St. toward our hotel. From there, what unfolded over my weekend in New Orleans on that silly Nextdoor app, that everyone loves to hate, was a resounding and beautiful miracle.
Let me back up a bit and say that Eclectic Eye is, if nothing else, is defined by its presence in our Midtown Memphis community. We are intrinsically a part of its successes and failures all day, every day. Mike and I live in Central Gardens less than a mile from the store. We grew up in Midtown. We went to Central High School and chose to raise our family and start our business in the neighborhood that we have always felt connected to and championed. So, when our neighbor’s and friend’s cat, Mr. Potts, went missing back in mid-December, we all collectively looked, hoped, prayed and mourned his loss. Much like we do with many of our Midtown pets that disappear.
Mr. Potts had been missing 47 days, I believe, when a kind family three miles away noticed him in their garage on the evening of January 26, 2018. They posted a photo and a call out to anyone that might be missing him. Within an hour, an active Nextdoor participant recognized and alerted the family of Mr. Potts, who said this about the moment:
“The Cifaldi family just north of Lindenwood Church near Summer Avenue notified Next Door this evening that they found an obviously stressed, frail cat. They posted photos. A number of you good people alerted us immediately.
We called the family, quickly dispatched to their home, and in their garage with his back to us perched a little ball, a shadow of the robust figure we know and love. Wobbling, 50% body weight loss, he quickly recognized us!
Summer Avenue Animal Emergency Hospital reported low body temperature, but as of tonight, blood work looks promising. If he makes it, we’ll report. Again, lots of love from us to all of you for your support! Best birthday present I could ask for.”
This was the post I saw on my way home from Galatoire’s that night. And, from that moment on, our community both on Nextdoor and in person, joyously celebrated Mr. Potts and his miraculous return to his family.
So, I reached out to my banner guy and asked if he could make us a “Welcome Home Mr. Potts!” banner and have it ready by the time I got back from New Orleans. He gladly, although somewhat confusingly, made it happen. We’ve had hundreds of banners outside of our store since we opened in 2002. Mostly for sales, trunk shows and many other events. However, this banner allowed us all to further extend the collective joy we have felt for Mr. Potts’s return.
Bruce VanWyngarden wrote an editorial in the Memphis Flyer, in which he talked about the banner and the story of Mr. Potts. Bumper stickers were printed that say “Mr. Potts is Midtown” and all proceeds are being donated to the House of Mews (per Mr. Potts’ request). There is talk of a spring parade and a possible book, too.
Mr. Potts reminds us that we can all be on the same team. We can all celebrate each other’s wins. This is what it means to be a part of a community. We are desperately starved for collaborative, celebratory experiences that unite us. Mr. Potts has ultimately given us all a much-needed gift.
Stop in and pick up your bumper sticker to continue the celebration. Eclectic Eye is matching donations for the stickers to send to House of Mews. Welcome home, Mr. Potts!