Paul Brown took very good care of Violet Monday afternoon.
Over the course of a one-hour visit to Paul’s store, Wally Pets, Paul tossed her several treats from the bulk section, refilled the bowl by the entrance so she could wash them down (“Let me get her fresh water, hun”), and gave her more pats and snuggles than I (Mónica) could count.
“She can recognize him from a block and a half away,” Violet’s owner, Katie Lynd, told me as she tried to keep the big labradoodle from chasing down a very tempting fly.
“It’s hard being a pet owner. You understand your animal, you want other people to understand their quirks,” said Katie, who nominated Wally’s Pets for The Evergrey’s Small Business Week profiles. “Paul makes pet ownership so much easier.”
Paul has run Wally Pets in Wallingford for five years. Before that, he traveled all over the world and worked as a bartender in multiple states. That, he said, is how he learned the importance of getting to know his customers, and taking care of them.
“Now I’m a bartender for dogs and cats,” Paul said.
Katie wanted a dog from the moment she moved from Portland to Seattle in 2014. When she and her boyfriend found Violet, they brought their 4-month-old pup to Paul. He connected them to the neighborhood’s dog walkers and dog sitters, shared reviews of all kinds of products, and even let them borrow a harness for weeks to make sure it fit.
Around the holidays, Paul turned the front corner of his store into a winter wonderland for dogs, complete with a Santa so the pets could pose for pictures.
“I want people to come here and have an experience,” Paul said.
The star treatment has made Katie a pretty loyal customer. She and Violet come into Wally Pets about once a week, and animals seem to parade in and out of the store all day. Paul house sits for his neighbors and customers ten months out of the year, he said. He doesn’t own any pets himself.
“I have like 100 dogs!” Paul said. “I’m so lucky, huh? I love what I do. I just love what I do.”
And pretty soon, those dogs and their owners will have a new hangout. Paul plans to move Wally Pets to the soon-to-be former home of another beloved neighborhood business, Wide World Books & Maps, in June.
Thanks to our promotional partner TownSquared, an online community for small businesses, for helping us get the word out and gather your nominations. Stay tuned for more of your Seattle small business nominations in tomorrow’s Evergrey.