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George Migash, Product Designer 

click to enlarge SCOTT LARRICK

The age-old dilemma facing most cat owners -- what to do with the pooper scooper when you're done cleaning the box -- has finally been answered by local resident (and former Independent art director) George Migash. His answer? The Scoop Coop. Simple yet functional, the Scoop Coop is a professionally designed kitty-litter scoop housed in a plastic, mouse-shaped holder. Locally designed and manufactured, it's currently available in 30 stores nationwide, and three here in the Springs. Check it out for yourself at www.scoopcoop.com.

First, the obvious question. What inspired the Scoop Coop? A week I spent with my then fiance, Shalom. I was just visiting her for a week, and I'd stay home while she went to work, doing some housework -- not that there was that much to do. Anyway, one of things I was doing was cleaning the cat box, but I didn't know what to do with the scoop when I was done. So I asked her when she came home one day, and she was like, what are you talking about? You just lay it on top or put it on the floor.

I'd never had a cat, and that seemed silly, and I figured she'd just never gone shopping for the proper cat product. So I went out and looked, and she was right. There was no such product. So, I got the idea, though it was months before I actually did anything with it.

How long of a process has this been? I guess it's been about two years now. Things went a lot slower early on. Initially, I didn't do anything with the idea, just kind of let it roll around in my head. It wasn't until Shalom moved out here that I actually sat down and sketched the idea. Then it was another few months till the next step, which was to look up the word "plastics" [in the Yellow Pages] and make phone calls. I mean, I had no idea what I was doing, but it seemed like a logical step. I hit some dead ends, but finally got someone who said, "OK, come down and we'll look at it." And that's kind of how things got started. But again, slowly. Lots of details and dead ends.

Was there a point at which you made an actual decision to go ahead with it? I think the minute I wrote the $1,300 check for the prototype. I mean, everything to that point cost money, but once I had the prototype, it was pretty real. That was the first time I'd seen anything in three dimensions that looked like what I wanted.

Where'd the capital come from? It all came from friends and relatives. The majority of the outside money came from my dad. I also got a small-business loan from American Express for equipment, like the molds.

Where in the Springs is it available? Both Pet Cities (the Citadel and Chapel Hills) and Gigi's in Manitou.

Any advice for future product designers? I guess the classic clich is that if I can do it, anyone can do it. I suppose that's true to a certain extent, because I certainly had no special skills other than being a graphic designer. But I guess I'd say that you have to put blinders on and develop selective hearing. I mean, I had to ignore a lot of people telling me things I didn't want to hear. I had to decide which people I was going to listen to and ignore the rest. So yeah, blinders, selective hearing and don't take anything too personally.

What's been the most gratifying moment? Two weeks ago Thursday, in the middle of the night, when they got the second mold done. We put the two pieces together, and it worked. Everything worked. There was the product, and that was huge.

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