UPTOWN — Reptile lovers will have a new place to find a pet in Uptown with the expected Saturday opening of Curious Creatures, a new shop stocked with more than 100 snakes, lizards and turtles.
The folks behind the specialty shop, 4131-4133 N. Broadway, are Alison Pelletier and Andrew Babbitt, of north suburban Evanston.
The couple, owners of numerous reptiles themselves, said reptile-focused shops like theirs are scarce in the city, which was a big factor in their decision to open Curious Creatures.
Pelletier, 22, grew up with snakes and Babbitt, 26, grew up loving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Affection for the cartoon spurred an adoration of real life shelled reptiles such as turtles and tortoises.
"Reptiles are just so fascinating and unique to look at, and all of them have their unique personalities," he said.
Pelletier, wearing a lime green shirt bearing the Curious Creatures logo, said the young couple has been together for five years and met while working at Jimmy John's.
As the business owners searched for the perfect location, they looked around the city at a couple of other vacant spots but what they found either didn't match their requirements for space or their budget.
When they came to what would be their eventual choice in Uptown, those two requirements were met; "we fell in love with the space" — and the 'hood, Pelletier said.
"It's an up-and-coming neighborhood, more and more people are coming here, there's new stores coming, and we just thought it would be a great spot to start a business," she added.
The business owners are also eager, they said, to partner with local schools to educate kids about reptiles.
Curious Creatures' grand opening is set for Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. The business is giving away free Exo-Terra cricket pens to the first 24 customers to buy 12 crickets, and will hold a raffle at the end of the day to give away a free Exo-Terra cage for reptiles.