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metronews.ca

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

metro

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Metro Workology exclusive: Paws and Claws Be sure to read Workology and Metronews.ca/work for our pet industry feature series Paws and Claws. Seen here is Bentley, the Cock-a-Poo, submitted by a loyal Metro reader.

Workology

Brock launches new ad campaign Brock University is running a print and online marketing campaign in support of its $75-million Bold New Brock capital campaign. The advertising initiative launched with an ad on the back cover of Maclean’s 2009 Guide to Canadian Universities. The ad depicts a split-image of a Brock biological sciences student, with one half touting his academic credentials and the other showing a painting of him playing the saxophone. The tagline reads: “For both sides of the brain.” METRO NEWS SERVICES

EDITOR: DOUGLAS.DUNLOP@METRONEWS.CA

Metro readers’ Best friends

• Metro would like thank

Cabbagetown shop’s owner aims to keep customers and workers happy RAFAEL BRUSILOW/FOR METRO CANADA

everyone who has sent in a picture of their pet, we’ll try to publish as many as we can throughout the month of April.

Pet store a labour of love Paws and Claws RAFAEL BRUSILOW for Metro Canada

While franchise heavyweights have come and gone, Menagerie Pet Shop in Toronto has kept growing and defying the odds for almost three decades. The independently owned store which spans three storefronts at 549553 Parliament St. has been a Cabbagetown staple for the last 29 years in a success story that surprises even its owner. Menagerie owner Garen Yaghejian, 49, says he started the shop in 1980 as a labour of love when he was just 20, hoping at best to keep the store afloat for a while. “I was a grade nine dropout who just loved animals. Menagerie started as a fun thing and then grew and grew and grew,” Yaghejian said. Born in Cairo, Egypt, to Armenian parents, Yaghejian grew up learning about animals from his dad who bred a variety of pets as a hobby. Yaghejian bought the store’s location and leftover stock from a previous owner in 1980, rebranding the shop and spending every last dime he had on renovations. Menagerie’s first incarna-

Here’s Ziggy the sevenyear-old Bermese.

This is Chewbac ca, acting all crazy.

Here’s Cessena, who’s been sick for a long time, but recently celebrated being 10.

Here’s Bronte, making friends with a groundhog.

A staff member helps customers at the Menagerie Pet Shop. The store’s owner Garen Yaghejian says that listening to customer feedback has help the independent story thrive against the larger pet store franchises.

tion was a tiny 350square-foot space but grew with its success to take over the two larger adjoining storefronts and expand to nine or ten times its starting size today. While he has no secrets as to why the store has prospered for all these years, particularly in the face of stiff competition from larger pet store franchises, Yaghejian suspects it may have something to do with his focus on customer service. “We’ve kept up with the big chains that have come through here over the years. I think it’s because

we treat people right and we don’t give people a hard time when they bring pets back,” he said. Another likely reason for the store’s success could be Yaghejian’s philosophy of listening closely to customer feedback to decide what to put on shelves. “Customers dictate to us what they want so over the years we’ve listened and gotten the products that work for them,” Yaghejian said. Keeping staff happy has always been a priority for Yaghejian who insists on paying his workers well in order to keep them moti-

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For more of the Paws and Claws exclusive series check Workology frequently or stop by:

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a pet store. “The costs of doing business are very high and they keep going up. You have to run a lean operation to survive but you also have to find a decent balance. You can’t just pay people seven or eight dollars an hour and expect everything to get done correctly,” Yaghejian said. Though the world of business can be challenging and often feel gloomy, Yaghejian says the best medicine is integrity, fairness and the occasional smile. “You’ve got to have a positive outlook. Be honest and don’t hesitate to treat customers fairly and your staff well,” he said.

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