Island Pet Source

Published on November 3, 2023

For Michelle, owner of Island Pet Source in Victoria, BC, the transition into pet retail from her previous accounting job came somewhat unexpectedly. Having been left unable to work her desk job due to a neck injury, she took on a part-time job at a local pet store to keep herself busy. “I’d always had dogs, and I’ve worked and volunteered with rescue agencies, so I had the interest,” she explains. What started off as a casual position soon became more than that when the existing owner of the store, who was looking to transition out of managing the store, asked Michelle to take over the running of the business. “I got to learn a lot about the business and the business of nutrition while working for somebody else.” she says. Nearly two years later, the owner asked Michelle if she’d be interested in buying the business - and, of course, she was, so Island Pet Source became hers. 


“I’ve owned the business since 2014,” Michelle says. “It’s a food supply store with a grooming salon in the back, and in 2020 I started a dog-walking service.” Like many retail stores, the pandemic created several challenges, but Michelle realised that while people might be stuck at home, they still wanted somebody to look after their dogs. “It’s been a good synergy, having all those services and a vehicle that’s running around town at the same time.” When she took over the previous business, Michelle began introducing healthier, more natural options for her customers. For her, transparency is very important. “I need something that I understand, that I know about, and that has its own reputation,” she says. “We are constantly reviewing our product offering to make sure it still lines up with our values and offering high-quality product that is still affordable to feed.” 


When it comes to Smack, Michelle appreciates the fact that it is a Canadian company, and that she can call up and speak with the owner if she needs to. “The product feeds well, it delivers. I’ve been offering Smack and feeding Smack to my own dogs for a long time, and it’s still a really good, high-quality product.” Michelle likes that Smack offers variety and options to dog owners, noting its convenience for raw feeders who are travelling in particular. “It’s Canadian, and family-owned and operated and manufactured and people do like that,” she says.  


Island Pet Source prides itself on its customer service (the store manager is Michelle’s daughter, so it is truly a family-owned and run operation as well). “We take a lot of care and pride in knowing our customers and knowing how to help people, even people who are new. We really take the time and effort to know what people want, what pet-parents need, and help them with the overall care of their pets.” With incredibly low employee turnover, Michelle is happy to provide a positive work environment for her staff and make her store a great place to visit. “We have quality products and we know how to use them and when to recommend them. I tell people all the time, there’s nothing in the store that I haven’t fed my dogs or used for my own dogs.” Never having planned to come into the pet retail space (“I never had a business, never had experience in retail”) Michelle now loves what she does. “It was just meant to be. I’m very proud of the store and my staff. It’s a good place.”


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