Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pet Works To Open in Downtown Olympia

 Above: The Pet Works is set to open in downtown Olympia in about a week or so. Potential customers have been stopping by in anticipation every day Little Hollywood has stopped by.

By Janine Unsoeld

Rebecca and Eric Smith, owners of The Pet Works in Longview and Astoria, are excited to open a pet shop in downtown Olympia at 407 Fourth Avenue. The Pet Works staff has been busy stocking shelves and hiring employees, and is set to open any day now.

The store will be open at least six days a week, from about 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., with shorter hours on Sunday. “We're not sure yet what's appropriate for the area, but we'll figure it out soon,” said Eric Smith.
First reached in a telephone interview last November, Rebecca Smith had hopes of moving in by early December, but interior renovations to the historic railroad depot building have taken a little longer than expected.

The NW Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC) moved into a separate, upstairs space of new renovated offices yesterday. For more information about the NW Cooperative Development Center, see the October 17, 2013 story at Little Hollywood at

The building is next to the artesian well, which is being revitalized into an area with mobile food carts and restroom facilities. The Artesian Commons is scheduled to open in early May. During the project, access to the artesian well is available. 

The Pet Works store has seven new employees so far, and will continue hiring up into the 20 - 30 employee range.
While the Smith's will not be relocating to Olympia, they have hired a manager and employees to operate the Olympia business. Potential employees must have experience with dogs and other pets, be comfortable cleaning, feeding, and maintaining a healthy environment for pets, be a fast learner, have excellent customer service skills, genuinely love animals, must be able to lift 40 pounds, and have experience stocking and maintaining merchandise. Resumes may be sent to:
Eric Smith adds, “We have a low employee turnover because we treat them right. Our manager at the Longview store has been with us for 10 - 12 years, and another employee has been with us over 20 years. At our Astoria store, most have been with us since we took it over in 2008.”

Above: Catnip and related products produced by From the Field in Rainier will be featured at The Pet Works in downtown Olympia. Little Hollywood knows of at least four cats who can't wait to try it! Meow!

The Pet Works Supports Local Businesses and the Environment
The Smith's are excited to have established firm relationships with several Thurston County and Western Washington area businesses.
“Our dog bones and treats are all made in Tumwater at Western Meats, our catnip and related products are brought to us by From the Field in Rainier, our dog wash tubs are made at Olympia Sheet Metal, and our nylon leashes and collars are from a business in Washougal called LoCatis. We've been dealing with that company (LoCatis) for about 30 years,” says Eric Smith.
“We're all about keeping as much money circulating in the Northwest. In fact, 100 percent of our business funding is through Thurston Bank. From the ground up, the whole project is geared toward keeping money in Olympia.”
Asked why they were interested in coming to downtown Olympia, Rebecca Smith said, “Our Longview store was established in 1975. We’re locally owned and operated. Then we opened an Astoria store in their downtown. We love it. It kind of fits with our whole vibe….We plan on being part of the community and all the improvements. I see downtown as being on the verge of something amazing.”

Rebecca Smith added, unasked, that the business does not use plastic bags, with a couple exceptions. “We've been supporting our local community from the beginning. We come from a logging community and we've used paper bags since 1975. We don't do plastic. The only thing we wish we could figure out is how to not bag our fish and crickets in plastic,” laughs Rebecca Smith.

Above: Rebecca Smith, center, checks a display with The Pet Works staff earlier today.

About the store inventory, Rebecca Smith said, “It’s very important to us to have no farm raised pets. Having USA made products is huge for us. We’re careful about what we sell. We’ll offer natural, organic foods made in the USA as much as possible, brands such as Fromm, Tuscan Natural, and Blue Buffalo.
“We’ll have animals for sale - no puppies or kittens - but we’ll have small animals like guinea pigs. The birds will be locally raised. We’ll have a large selection of fresh water and saltwater fish, and yes, we’ll have bunnies. We know where they come from.”

The Pet Works will also offer some turtles and reptiles. When asked, she said ferrets will not be offered. They come from farms and they aren’t for everyone.”

Asked if the store will offer dog training classes, Smith said, “Maybe in the long term, but not in the short term. We will have grooming and self-service dog washes.” Smith said one current store manager relocated early to Olympia to find a dog groomer. ‘They’re hard to find!’”
“For us, customer service is huge, but we don’t want to ruin business for other independent, local businesses.”
The Smith's are aware that there are three pet shops in the area: Mud Bay in West Olympia on Harrison Avenue, PetCo, on Black Lake Boulevard, also in West Olympia, and PetSmart in Lacey.
“A man just stopped in this morning on his way to another pet store, wondering if we were open yet, saying that his pond fish got cleared out last night by a raccoon,” said Eric Smith.

Long Term Vision
Rebecca Smith has been a part of The Pet Works’ family for 15 years, starting with the original owners. She grew into managing the business for them, and in July of 2004, purchased the store to make a great life for her family. She has a blog that she maintains for the Longview and Astoria stores. Chances are, she'll start one for Olympia.

Asked if she’s concerned about the current difficulties facing downtown Olympia, Smith says, “We know how to do business in a downtown. In Longview, our business is next door to a historically known drug house. We’re not afraid of, or unfamiliar with, the situation.” And, she adds with a laugh, “Our manager comes from a background of security - he’s a big man.”

Asked if they were familiar with the Pet Parade celebration in downtown Olympia held every August for the last 85 years, the Smith's said they were not. But after hearing an enthusiastic description about it by Little Hollywood, they will no doubt be very involved.

Rebecca coordinates the Pug Parade in Longview and a pet fashion show in Astoria. It seems The Pet Works will fit right in.

Above: The artesian well saw non-stop business earlier this weekend, as it does everyday. In the background is the building now occupied by The Pet Works and the NW Cooperative Development Center. The NW Cooperative Development Center moved in yesterday.

For more information about the NW Cooperative Development Center, see the October 17, 2013 story at Little Hollywood at