EVERETT — In order to replace those expired car tabs, you first have to walk down a tight hallway with hundreds of cats.
It’s that well-traveled catwalk between Andersen Insurance Agency and Beverly’s Auto Licensing.
Andersen’s cat decorations and funny feline memes are what people see while they wait in line for the complicated car stuff at Beverly’s busy back counter with three windows.
“It keeps them a little more mellow. It’s not only to keep them happy but keep us happy,” Judy Andersen said.
Andersen’s office has the front, larger space under the same roof as Beverly’s at the brick strip plaza at 9111 Evergreen Way. The two separate agencies have been roommates about 45 years, first down the street at the Fred Meyer complex. In September, Beverly’s is moving into a new space across the parking lot.
“We’re staying,” Andersen said. “We will have the space to fill with cats.”
A few dogs, birds and rabbits also inhabit the shelves in the narrow office.
The cat collection started by chance.
“Our son gave us two Siamese cats candles. I brought them here,” Andersen said.
It grew from there.
The cats are in the form of figurines, cookie jars, teapots and other assorted tchotchkes.
“People bring us stuff,” Andersen said. “You don’t want to get rid of them. You don’t want them to come back and say, ‘Where are they?’”
Many are repeat customers. They come in to pay their vehicle insurance, and score a few jelly beans from the candy basket. Or they come to get their car tabs and transfers in the back. At times the line spills out the door. People often don’t have the right paperwork to get the car task at hand done and need to make another trip.
The bulletin board display with cat pictures and cartoons is curated by Sharon Eubanks, who has worked at Andersen’s for 18 years.
“Sometimes people take them down,” Eubanks said. And not always to keep.
“Remember that kitten with the gun pointed at him and he has his little paws pointed up? Somebody got insulted and ripped it off.”
It was meant as a joke, said Eubanks, a cat-lover.
Most are punchy and silly: A cat’s bedtime prayer. Cats ordering yarn online.
“I’ve read them all. I like them,” said Shawn Welch, on a return trip to Beverly’s, this time with the proper car paperwork. “I like the (unlucky) dog who answers to the name Lucky. That made me smile.”
Some people put clippings up on the wall. Others draw pictures while they wait. Those earn places of honor.
Another highlight is the 20-pound rubber band ball that has been 20 years in the making. It’s the size of a basketball.