One year ago, in the middle of the pandemic, RuffMutts opened its third location in Southern Manitoba.
Ruff Mutts grew from a home-based grooming business in Niverville in 2011 to full-fledged pet food, supplies and grooming business. A second location followed in Altona then its third storefront opened last June on Stephen Street in Morden.
Co-owner Guy Britten says although there were still challenges opening a store during the pandemic, they were more fortunate than a lot of other businesses in that they were deemed essential and could remain open throughout.
"I guess it's nice now that after the mask requirement ended I got to see customers almost like the first time...typically speaking, although it was during the pandemic, it was just really good response from the community and our customers, and some of the local charity groups, like Pembina Valley Humane Society and Furever Friends. So it's been a really good, positive experience."
Britten says they've been very thankful for that support. He adds as local business owners, and having a passion for pets, he says they recognize they will not make it as a business if they're not a part of the community, and they want to make sure they are giving back as much as they can. At the same time, they want to provide a service that's needed in the area.
Because the Morden location wasn't their first store, they weren't too concerned with an opening in the middle of the pandemic. Britten says they put their focus on fine-tuning what they were already doing and ensuring they worked within their identity. "We want to make sure we have quality products, really good choices for food that are typically Canadian made and are quite often Canadian made."
Some of those brands include Smack, Acana, Orijen, and Canadian Naturals. "What we do, is we really try and do the math for people. So we incorporate the feeding guidelines, and so people understand exactly what they're going to be paying for when they come here. Like we always say, when you come here, we're going to be able to help you out and feed your pets better and do it for less."
Britten says they love Southern Manitoba and love being set up in the rural community. He says they always keep their eyes open, and expansion is something they're always open to. "We love being set up in the rural community and we understand a lot of the bigger chains aren't willing to touch that."