Happy Tails - Thinking Outside the 'Big-Box'
Bumper stickers with sayings like ‘Made in Canada Matters’, ‘I Shop Local’ and ‘Think Global – Act Local’ are being seen, more and more. Philosophies like these and other inspirations have inspired the actions of Byron entrepreneurs Joanne Custy and her husband Jim Kogelheide.
December 1st was the ‘soft’ opening date for Happy Tails Doggy Spa & Pet Boutique located at 1073 Gainsborough Road – just NW of Hyde Park Road. Shoppers have been very impressed with the many products and services that are being offered to the community. As Joanne explains how, “Happy Tails has created numerous relationships with local manufacturers of pet foods, toys and many hand-crafted unique gifts,” a smile breaks across her face as she hears a customer exclaim, “I’ve never seen this before! Where did you find it?” and our interview is momentarily broken off as Joanne tends to another customer.
While Joanne goes about her business, I’m left with a few moments to wander through the other areas of Happy Tails where I met Sam Finch who was in the middle of bathing a dog. Sam is the dog groomer and she was very eager to share some of the services that Happy Tails provides. “We have several grooming packages to choose from, depending on our clients’ needs. Some dogs are brought in for a quick brush-out and toenail trim, while others are brought in for complete grooming services.” Happy Tails also has a day lounge where dogs can socialize, play or relax while their owners are at work or out shopping for the day.
I couldn’t help but laugh when, after his hair cut, the pooch that Sam was grooming, had his teeth brushed! “Dogs love the taste of our doggy toothpaste,” Joanne shared, “and sometimes it’s hard to get the toothbrush past their slurping tongue!” The pooch did look very content!!
As I continued further into the back area, I was amazed with the size of the store – it just kept going and going! This is where I met Jim who was getting ready to take a couple of dogs for a stroll around the neighbourhood. “My college study was in the architectural field, so when Joanne brought this beautiful Victorian home to my attention, we both immediately knew that this would be perfect for our vision for Happy Tails!”
Joanne explained how, “keeping it local means more than just the products that we carry.” Several contractors were needed to help with the renovations, “so we worked with several Hyde Park contractors, including Jim Deacon Flooring and our personal contractor Blair Locke.” Joanne shared how many other local business and organizations have also shown their eagerness to welcome Happy Tails into the neighbourhood. “From all the support we’ve received from the community, I know that we made a great decision to become a part of the Hyde Park merchant family!”
Between 1999 – 2004 Joanne and Jim were following other ambitions as they travelled across Canada (including Nunavut). During these travels, Kogelheide (now an artist) also became an art teacher, musician and community volunteer. Over the last two years, Jim has also become a writer, as I’m sure that many readers have already recognized his name from several Villager magazine stories!
When living in Cranbrook, B.C., Joanne enrolled in and graduated at the top of her class in a college business program. In 2005, after returning to London, Joanne continued her education at Ridgetown College where she – again – graduated at the top of her class to become a Veterinary Office Administrator.
For the last ten years, Joanne has worked for two very busy and successful veterinarian clinics, all the while, saving for and dreaming of the day when she knew she would be ready to bring Happy Tails to life. Although her co-workers at the Central Cat Hospital miss Joanne’s smiles and positive work attitude, they all are great supporters of her latest efforts.
The Villager would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to our most recent community entrepreneurs, as we wish them the best of success while they continue to diligently care for our favourite furry family friends!!!
To learn more about Happy Tails – the products they sell or the services they provide – simply visit www.happytailslondon.com