Chunky has become a fixture at Wholly Craft in Clintonville, but the black and white feline hasn't always been the store's craft cat.

Before last summer, Chunky's role was that of house cat to Olivera Bratich, who owns Wholly Craft at 3515 N. High St. in the Columbus neighborhood.

Bratich had owned Chunky, 15, since he was a few days old. When she had to move temporarily into an apartment that didn't allow cats, Bratich said, she decided to try him out as a store cat.

"He immediately took to it," she said.

Now, children stop on their way home to see Chunky and customers bring him toys, Bratich said. He also is featured on the store's website and Instagram page.

In April, the store celebrated his birthday with cupcakes, themed activities and a sale on cat-themed merchandise. He even received a birthday card from a young fan.

"We can't imagine him not being here," she said.

Chunky is one of several cats and dogs customers might encounter in central Ohio stores, breweries and art galleries.

Though some spend their nights at their owners' houses and others make their homes at the shops, the animals share the common thread of becoming essential to the daily routines of hard-working business owners and employees, providing everything from stress relief to impromptu marketing campaigns, as well as offering a bit of whimsy for customers.

Bratich said she and her staff joke that Chunky was their best marketing decision of 2017 because he is an endless source of inspiration for social-media posts.

And over the past year, customers have bonded with Chunky, who will often run to the front door the minute it opens, Bratich said.

"He just loves it here," she said.

D'Art

Although Chunky served as house cat for many years before dipping his paws into retail, another much-loved central Ohio feline found his way into an art gallery as a homeless cat in the dead of winter.

The Dublin Arts Council adopted D'Art, now 12, on Feb. 17, 2010.

Janet Cooper, director of engagement at the gallery at 7125 Riverside Drive in Dublin, said she remembers getting a call from a friend whose mother-in-law was trying to find a home for a domestic cat who had wandered onto her Pennsylvania farm.

"The barn cats were just not accepting him as one of their own," Cooper said.

Cooper said she went up and down the hall at the Dublin Arts Council, just to check if one of her co-workers had room at their house for a male cat.

When she got to executive director David Guion's office, he said the arts council would take him, according to Cooper's version of events.

"I don't remember that," Guion said.

But Guion said he relented in keeping D'Art (Guion named the cat) only after hearing pleas from staff.

Regardless of how D'Art came to the gallery, he quickly made it his home.

"He, for the most part, walked in like he owned the place," Cooper said.

Now, D'Art attends all gallery meetings, getting in the middle of papers and budgets, Guion said. When people walk through the gallery, D'Art tags along.

Some people visit the gallery just for D'Art, Cooper said, and bring him gifts.

Cooper said she hopes D'Art shows children visiting with their families that a gallery doesn't have to be a stuffy place.

"He says a lot about our openness in the community," she said.

Hops

Although D'Art meandered onto a farm from unknown origins, brewery cat Hops has bonafide barn-cat credentials.

Hops, a female kitty about 3 years old, came to live at Zaftig Brewing Co. when owner Jim Gokenbach moved into the facility at 7020A Huntley Road in Columbus, just outside Worthington, about two-and-a-half years ago, said taproom manager Frank Shoults.

Gokenbach said he decided to bring Hops to the brewery after a cat in his father-in-law's barn had a litter of kittens, Shoults said.

Although cats historically served as pest control to keep grain-loving mites in check at breweries and distilleries, Hops is a mascot rather than a hunter, Shoults said.

Brewery cats still are common around the world. CatsOnTap adds pins on Google Maps to show breweries, distilleries and wineries that maintain a feline presence, and Hops is one of the cats listed.

Hops also has her own Instagram account, @zaftighops, and usually sits in the taproom investigating and playing with customers, Shoults said. She also climbs on the bar and knocks pens off tables.

However, if dogs come into the taproom, Shoults said, Hops tries to get them riled.

"When she has furry visitors, she likes to let them know she's in charge," he said.

Henry

While a craft store, an art gallery and a brewery are the permanent homes of Chunky, D'Art and Hops, a couple canines spend their days at their respective retail operations and their nights at home with their owners.

Henry, a Boston terrier who will turn 10 this fall, has been an unofficial mascot for Westerville vintage store A Gal Named Cinda Lou for nearly nine years.

Henry's first store visit was when co-owner Julia Bennati adopted him as an 8-month-old pup – she was working in the shop, so his previous owners dropped him off there instead of at her home, she said.

The habit stuck, though, and Henry comes with her to the store at 20 N. State St. during the day and stays with her at night at her Westerville home.

"I like the community that Henry's built," Bennati said.

People visit him weekly, and the store even features some Boston terrier merchandise, Bennati said. Henry also has his own Instagram account, @henry_theboston.

Bennati is trying to get her other Boston terrier, Charlie, accustomed to being a store dog, as well. For now, customers can catch Charlie in the store about once a week.

Tucker

When Rod Geitgey made the decision to bring his 6-year-old Samoyed, Tucker, to his store, Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings at 7600 Fishel Drive N. in Dublin, he was continuing a tradition that began with his female Samoyed, Sammy, who died about nine years ago.

The decision to bring Sammy to the store, which he owns with his wife, Lisa, was because of the dog's separation anxiety, Geitgey said.

So when the Geitgeys got Tucker when he was about 6 months old, the dog immediately started going to the store with Geitgey.

The breed typically is sweet, smart, gentle and athletic, making Tucker a good ambassador for the store, Geitgey said.

He said the fur can be "a little bit of a challenge," but it is mitigated with frequent vacuuming.

Tucker recognizes when a customer is a dog person, Geitgey said, and acts accordingly, putting his paw on the shopper's foot to ensure he continues to be petted.

Other Tucker tricks include leaning into people and pushing his rear end into someone to get his hips rubbed.

Geitgey has devoted a section of the store's website to Tucker and also features him on social-media posts.

The dog also is a boon to employees, he said.

"It's almost like a built-in stress relief," Geitgey said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah