Zeina Elgazzar jumps, literally, when people ask about her dogs.
As she quickly strides across the room to show off pictures of her “two boys” the passion to provide services to other Penticton dog-lovers is evident. It is why she came up with the business idea Okanagan K9, a dog boutique that opened this week.
“Having my own two dogs I felt there was a lack of services available to them in terms of daycare and various therapies,” said Elgazzar, who has lived in Penticton for 13 years. “There is a large dog population here, over 3,000 tags were sold through the city, and I just strongly feel the service is needed here.”
Working with the Community Futures entrepreneurship program Elgazzar put the ideas she had been dreaming up for years onto paper. With Community Futures support and the assistance of the mentorship program Elgazzar developed her business idea and found a location, taking the first steps for Okanagan K9 opening as a boutique. Right now the store has a number of Canadian-made dog accessories from leashes, beds, eco-friendly toys and locally-made treats. Okanagan K9 is also an exclusive dealer in the Valley of a product called blanketID, a dog tag system where pet owners register their tag online with photos, contact numbers and any special care guidance so that if your pet is lost it will automatically send out a email to local SPCA’s, animal hospitals, shelters and other blanketID members. BlanketID owners can log onto their unique ID number whenever they want to update their pets information.
Elgazzar and general manager Maxine Steil are currently working with the City of Penticton with the hope of expanding their business to include a certified dog physical therapist, groomers, dog walkers and have a daycare service.
“We encourage people to come down and see the location and please bring your dogs, that is a perk for us,” said Elgazzar. “Then people will get to see the direction we have and the calibre of services we hope to offer.”
The pair ran into zoning issues with the city in December, but will be returning to council chambers looking to get a second chance at dispelling any misconceptions about what services they want to offer.
“That was part of the challenge with getting zoning because people felt it wasn’t the right location, but we on the other hand feel it is the ideal location because we are close to the park, green space and the river channel walkway,” said Steil. “There was a bit of a misconception of what the facility was going to be. There was an impression it was a caged environment and there would be barking dogs left unattended. We hope through the appeal process people will visit the facility and see it is the complete opposite.”
Space in their location already is allocated for a therapist, grooming room and a dog play area. They plan on having a camera in the play area so customers can log onto their website www.okanagank9.com at any time and see what their pet is up to.
“It is really going to be customer orientated. We worked hard and really planned it out and feel it is going to be a really strong business for Penticton,” said Elgazzar.
Okanagan K9 is located at 3693 Skaha Lake Rd. and open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am. to 6 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and closed on Mondays. Elgazzar said if they get the green light from the city to offer additional services they may change their hours of operation to include Mondays.