Friday, April 18, 2008

Follow up to my post about the Coast's Best Pet Store in the CIty

I've had a few comments left on my letter to the Editor at the Coast about why I think Willows Pet Store is one of the worst pet stores in the city - 2 of which are by the actual owner of the store. I don't want this topic to continue on too long on my blog because I don't want to become too associated with either the Coast or this particular pet store - but I feel like I've got to say what I believe to be the truth - based on emails I've received in the past - by the owner of Willows Pet Place herself, and by her former customers of Paws and Play Doggie Day care. I think it's actually quite fantabulous that one of her comments includes portions of an email she sent to me - because I'm going to include other portions of that same email - which I'm sure she's going to be quite unhappy about!

First of all though I want to say - Joe - don't say it's so! I thought I was building myself an army of people who believed in everything I said! In your comment to my post you said that on a regular basis you don't agree with a lot of the things I say! I am aghast! At least we both share the fact that our neighbours hate our dogs. Maybe I should buy a house next door to you and then we'll both have no problems. I love beagles.

But on to more serious stuff.

For those of you who don't read comments - the comments that I am talking about have been left - here - if you want to go read them. I'm note quite sure where to start, really.

Maybe we'll start at the spot that I always think is the most important when it comes to a store - which is whether or not Willows is actually pet friendly. And yes, I do admit that I have only been to Willows once, and it was only for a minute, and I didn't have any of my dogs with me. I just sort of breezed on through because I was too worried about a confrontation. And yes, I did see a crate there. Kyra says in her most recent comment to my post though that the crates are now gone. She also however says that the store has been dog friendly since the day she opened. But I am going to quote from an email I received from her - and the same email that she's quoted from that I received from her in 2005:

Almost daily we are still getting people come in who just say thank you for finally opening a store here. It's so much easier for them (especially those without cars) then busing all the way out to Bayers Lake or Burnside or Clayton Park to get what they need. So yes it sucks, I couldn't agree more, but it is something we will continue to persue and hopefully change, but for now it is not legal for us to allow animals inside the building period. Having said that a lot of professionals in this industry, including B & R Pet supplies and Carnegy who have both had to stop letting pets inside, have said it is too hard to have people bring their pets inside. Joan just stop and think from the perspective of a small business owners of how you would be able to handle a situation where every day you risk losing (and some days do lose) hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise to damage caused by dogs. People who are busy looking at the products and don't see their dog lift their leg all over a display. Venus at B & R said she lost over $200.oo in product in one second because a dog lifted his leg and peed all through a basket display on the floor. The owner refused to pay for the damage and as a result that money came out of their pockets. And she said every other day something like that would happen at their shop. So now they say no dogs. And as someone on a very small budget here who really wants to give a raise soon to the staff, and maybe even get a better phone so we can here the ringer more easily (ours sucks) I can see how these business have decided not to let pets in any longer. I mean are you willing to have your pay check docked every day for damage caused by someone else at the hospital? Of course you cannot. It's just too hard. So getting back to us here at Willow's. We first had a giant size vari kennel outside the front door and asked people to leave their dogs in the crate outside while they came in and shopped. We had fresh bowls, and bottles of water for the dogs along with a variety of cookies for them. Then after me and I'm sure the other staff here breaking the rules every time and just inviting the dogs inside (it looked way too cold and we felt way to badly for the dogs) we finally called the owners of the building and said it's just not going to work. It's too hard to not let the dogs inside. They spoke with us and we reached a compromise that meant we could move the crate inside the shop at the front right by the door and the dogs could come in the store, but had to stay inside the crate. So that is what we are working with now.

So this is the actual email I received from the owner of Willows Pet Place. I doesn't say that their store is dog friendly - it says that dogs must be put in a crate while their owners are shopping in their store, and this to me is not a dog friendly store. Hence my labelling of their store as a non dog-friendly store - and she also gives the very tired diatribe of losing product to dogs peeing on everything - to which I always say - my dog doesn't pee on my stuff at home - so why would they pee on stuff at your store, obviously the store doesn't have good housekeeping skills.

On to problem #2 - unpaid former business clients - and on to another email I received, coincidentally almost at exactly the same time that Kyra and I were exchanging those emails that she and I have just quoted from. The only parts I am going to share are here:

"I was wondering if you have any idea as to what happened to PawsandPlay daycare. I spent over $300 there on a daycare package and membership a few days before they started their move to Robie Street and that's the last I have heard from them. Kyra is not returning phone calls or emails. I have lost my money, and Kyra has never updated her website. Any clue?"

So this is how I've come to believe the things that I said in my letter to the Editor at the Coast. I was not blowing smoke out of my ass. When push comes to shove, I have the paperwork to back up what I was saying. I would like nothing more than to have another high quality pet store in this city that's centrally located that I can go to that sells local products that I can take Buttercup in with me and I can spend liberal amounts of money at who I know is also supporting local rescue efforts and I see has donated stuff to almost every event I go to - which is what places like Global Pets and Naughty Dog and Glamour Puss and Metro Dog Wash DO do. But that hasn't been the case with the store that these 2 posts have been about.

And as I mentioned in my letter to the Editor - the owner also takes part in an illegal activity as currently defined in the Land Use Bylaws - a legal debacle that she herself set in motion that has cost Janet Chernin more than $20,000 of her own dollars to date. I don't see Kyra Foster chipping in any of that money to help out even though when the activity is legalized - it will be people like Kyra Foster who will benefit. Sometimes the world isn't very fair.

So that is my rant. I'm gong to end it here, and I don't see myself writing about it anymore because I don't think it's that important - I thought about taking Charlie down to Willows yesterday and seeing if I could walk in, take some pictures and buy something without being kicked out because I had a dog in there with me - but then I thought - I really don't CARE that much about this topic to take that much time out of my important Saturday to do something like that. Typing out this post took long enough out of my weekend, if you know what I mean. So I consider this whole thing tied up in a neat little bow. I've said everything I need to say.

I will write a foot note to this post though - my Dad asked me if I thought these posts were going to hurt this lady's business - and I thought about it for a minute, and I said - "no, I don't think so" - and I said it's because the people who shop in her store and read the Coast magazine are obviously not the same people who read my blog and go to my website - because the the people who go to my website probably believe the same things I do - that their dogs should be able to go shopping with them, and if Willows is not dog friendly - they probably don't shop there anyway. So she is not losing any money or customers - we are 2 entirely different markets, obviously.

NB: I have had emails about Willow's Pet Place telling me that the store is in fact now pet friendly, which I can fully believe that it is. I will never know seeing as how I've been "banned from the property" and the owner has threatened to "double-sue" me seeing as how she's an individual and also a corporate entity - I'm not too worried about being sued - because you can't be successfully sued if you're saying things that are true. It is true however that Willows Pet Place spent a long time when it was not pet friendly, and the owner has chosen to deny that which is rather inexplicable. I'll let her words speak for themself in these posts:


  1. Just a FYI- B & R in Windsor Junction is now pet friendly. About a year or so ago they renovated the store and put in wood floors. They are very very very pet friendly.

    Please post this in your blog Joan, as it is important to have up to date information.

    Thank you, Joe

  2. I can't agree enough with Miss Sinden that this is the most unproductive use of time spent by everyone. Everyone stop for a minute and turn and look at your dog. I'm sure they are right beside you looking back, waiting to get the attention and affection they deserve. I can only re-iterate again that I do not re-call ever trying to enforce those initial rules on a dog when we opened. Refer to comment "me and I'm sure the other staff here breaking the rules every time and just inviting the dogs inside..." you will see again that I did not lie to you and we have worked very hard to get this place to be more dog friendly. We now have a patio with elevated dog beds, bowls, tables and chairs and great food and treats for your dogs. Dogs are in our store every day and the landlord comes by regularly and has pet the dogs. We have been offering help to customers of nearby shops by letting your dog hang out with us while you run into Pete's or Cora's or wherever so you don't have to tie your dog outside. We have changed the building enough that a staff member of the avalon center brought her dog to work with her every day until she moved to Toronto and students in the vet tech program are bringing their pets to class on a regular basis. I have worked very hard to help bring this building around and think it's just sad that although we want pets to be more welcome in our city this whole thing is just mud slinging at this point and not at all about making sure pets are as welcome as possible.

    As far as the ? person that feels I owe them $300? Who is this person and why haven't I heard from them? If you're out there please call me at 405 3161. If Paws and Play owes you money of course I will make sure you get your money back. This is the first I have heard of this.

    As for comments about us not taking part in local fundraisers so we are not as good as other? Come down today in our shop and you will see a)our tree trimming fundraiser where every time a dontation is made to animal rescue (you decide which one) another ornament goes on our tree, b) a raffle draw for a luxury spa package wth the Summit Day Spa and Wellness Centre. $5.00 a ticket and again all proceeds to the animal rescue of your choise, c) a thank you note on our counter from Angela Miller & Allison Chubbs for the donation of food we made to their TNR program, d) a thank you email from Christine Bishop for our donation of gift certificate to the Women of Excellence Awards and the Pheonix Youth Programs, e) a Bide A While donation jar and yearly calander display.

    This is where I stop defending myself and my business. I feel good about the things we are doing here and hope we help as many animals as we can in as many ways as we can. If anyone feels they are owed money, or wants to talk about an unpleasant experience they have had with any business I am or have been involved in, then please get in touch as I am eager to speak with you. Again my number is 405 3161.

    All the best and thanks again to those who do support us. I guess it's true that you can't please everyone, so we'll have to be happy enough that we seem to have pleased the majority.

  3. Please the majority? Majority of innocent customers who are blind to your deception and misleading words? From your post above it seems you have finally admitted that your store was NOT dog friendly initially. However on previous comments you indicated you were friendly from the get- go.

    You know what Kyra- I am done commenting on a store and store owner that I have vowed never to purchase from. You will never see one cent from me or any other dog owner I know. I am spreading the truth about you. I hope for yourself that you can see everything for what it truly is. Your denial is a sad thing.

    Best of luck seeking some help with your issues.


  4. Anonymous6:38 PM

    Um.... excuse me....but I worked with Paws and Play before they closed and I did up all the receipts for purchases for the last month before they closed Islville street. There were no sales of $300.00 and no daycare packages issued. So in response to:

    On to problem #2 - unpaid former business clients - and on to another email I received, coincidentally almost at exactly the same time that Kyra and I were exchanging those emails that she and I have just quoted from. The only parts I am going to share are here:

    "I was wondering if you have any idea as to what happened to PawsandPlay daycare. I spent over $300 there on a daycare package and membership a few days before they started their move to Robie Street and that's the last I have heard from them. Kyra is not returning phone calls or emails. I have lost my money, and Kyra has never updated her website. Any clue?"

    Either this was created by Joan or the person who did send this email has lied.

    And by the one brings their dogs to Kyra's house anymore so what the hell ARE you trying to do here?

    Very very very silly behaviour indeed!

  5. This is JOAN SINDEN here - see that - I'm willing to say my name here? If you aren't willing to leave your name with your post, I'm not going to take any stock in your comment - I hope other people reading your comments have the same idea. If you leave a comment and you want to be believed - like the person directly above my post here - LEAVE YOUR NAME.... otherwise you're just saying bullshit as far as I'm concerned - I might as well just delete your comment for all it's worth.

  6. fran lawrence7:10 PM

    Fran Lawrence for the record! should have signed that i guess