Hey everyone… it’s that wonderful time of year again! Not only is it summer and sunny but it is coming up on July 1st, the day of the year that we get to showcase one of the best things about the Northern family – our Canadian pride! From the very beginning we have made it our priority as a Canadian company to keep our product as local as possible, whether that be in the markets we cater to, the ingredients we use, or the homage we pay to the Canadian culture we all know and love. That’s why for this month’s blog and to celebrate Canada Day at Northern we decided to delve deeper into the inner workings of the pet industry in Canada. In order to do this, we asked a couple of our good friends at the fantastic Canadian pet retail supply chain, Global Pet Foods, about the ways in which they see Canadian products and patriotism come into play in their own stores as well as in the pet retail industry as a whole. We chatted with the King City, Ontario location’s co-owner Marco Ariganello, and the Ottawa, Ontario locations’ Rochelle Lachance. Here’s what they had to say on the topic of all things Canadian pet retail!
Northern: How long has Global Pet Foods been in the pet retail business?
Global Pet Foods, Ottawa: As a whole, Global Pet Foods has been around since 1976. Our Bank St location (1176 Bank St) has been around since 2008, our St Laurent location (1021 Cyrville Road) since 2010, and our Bells Corners location (2150 Robertson Road) since 2012.
Global Pet Foods, King City: Global has been in the pet retail business for over 40 years, and we have had our location for 3.5 years.
N: How did you decide to get into the pet industry yourself?
O: The owner, Scott Harris, was eager to start a business and it only made sense to get into the pet industry, as he’s always had a love for animals. The rest is history!
KC: I had worked many years in retail, always had pets and have a passion for pets, therefore I thought it would be a good fit.
N: Do you get solid face time with the animals that you cater to? (the childhood dreamer in me is DYING to know).
KC: Fortunately, yes! This is the best part of my job. We encourage customers to bring in our TRUE customers, their pets.
O: 100%! Every day is different. We see at least five dogs a day, and if we’re lucky we’ll get the privilege of meeting a cat, a bird, and other small animals. At our Bank St store not too long ago, we even met a little lamb! We get to give our furry customers treats, find toys for them, and just give them a whole bunch of love. It’s probably the best perk of working here!
N: Have you seen an increase in interest with regards to Canadian and local products since starting out at your store?
KC: Yes, for various reasons. One being price and there are many that are happy to support Canadian and local. Also with the scare of quality of pet foods in years past, people like to ensure they are buying Canadian quality.
O: Definitely. We know it’s important to shop Canadian and local for so many reasons. We get to feel pride when we shop Canadian because we know we’re supporting our local economy, reducing our carbon footprint, and we’re creating a bigger sense of community. Distributors and manufacturers have noticed this too and are starting to present us with new Canadian products. We’re a Canadian company, Canadian products are always our first go-to!
N: You have continuously supported and featured local Canadian businesses - in what ways do you see the store growing its collection of Canadian products?
KC: I find there are more options to support Canadian products with the growth of the industry.
O: They’re becoming more and more prominent for sure. I’d say about 75% of our dog and cat food is Canadian, and we’re starting to see our treats grow towards that trend as well. I’d like to see more Canadian-made dog and cat toys, (which I’ve seen very little of) but hopefully in the next few years we’ll start seeing this. In general, people are realizing how important it is to produce and sell Canadian and so more Canadian products are presented to us and we are always seeking them out. Ideally, we’d have all Canadian brands but realistically it’s not possible at this time and there really are some great quality non-Canadian brands out there, too.
N: Do you think that even over time buying local and supporting Canadian companies will continue to be a priority for customers?
KC: Yes, it will always be a priority because people feel they are helping Canadian companies grow and that will in turn help the economy, as well it is patriotic to buy and support Canadian companies
O: I definitely don’t see people shopping less Canadian! I think it’s important for Canadian retailers in any industry to start that conversation with customers on why it’s important to shop Canadian. For us, it’s pretty easy because when it comes to any food items - we can tell them that the salmon in the kibble they’re feeding their dog came from British Columbia, or the treat they’re feeding has beef from Alberta. People love that, and it’s quite amazing when you think about it!
N: Do you find it rewarding as a Canadian pet store owner to watch local businesses grow?
O: For sure. We all come from the same litter. We all understand what the other is going through, in prosperous times and in trying times. It’s a support thing!
KC: Yes, especially now that I own my own Canadian franchise, I feel I have more of a vested interested in supporting others like me.
N: Do you have any pets of your own or any pets in the family? If so, do they reap the benefits of having a pet store parent? I know the dogs of Northern Biscuit sure do.
KC: We had a dog for over 15 years and yes he definitely reaped the benefits and definitely loved the Northern biscuit products!
O: Oh of course! When we work in an environment where we’re constantly around new and exciting products, it’s hard not to bring them home for our furry family! I can’t tell you how many toys I have laying around at home, some left untouched by my cat. But they really are spoiled and it helps us get feedback for the products we try.
N: How does your store, which already does a great deal to celebrate Canada and Canadian businesses, celebrate Canada Day? Are there any red and white outfits (the people kind or the pet kind) that we can look forward to?
KC: We celebrate in Red and White. We will have a HOME GROWN sale on selected Canadian products.
O: Typically, we make sure to decorate our store in all things Canadian, advertise Canadian sales and promos that are going on, and we do have some red and white outfits for sale for pets! We are normally closed on Canada Day so we don’t get to show our red and white in-store typically, but I can assure you, we are celebrating somewhere!
N: Why choose Global Pet Foods as the go-to store for pet-owners who prioritize buying Canadian products and supporting Canadian businesses?
KC: We are the largest Canadian owned, pet specialty retailer. Our staff is knowledgeable on our product selection and we carry a wide range of great Canadian pet foods, treats, toys and accessories.
O: The fact that Global Pet Foods is the largest Canadian retailer alone, I’d say that says a lot about our Canadian pride and having Canadian products in our store. We’re also dedicated to carrying quality and natural food and always have been - what gets more natural and authentic than food and treats that are made with meat from provinces across the country? You pair our selection of Canadian brands with exceptional customer service and knowledge and I think we’re a pretty great go-to store!
And there you have it! Our friends at Global Pet Foods always talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to supporting Canadian businesses and showcasing local products in their stores all over the country. Over the years we Canadian pet supply businesses have all reveled in what it means to be a part of this marvelous country. Not only do we get to surround ourselves with the wonders of Canada and the goods that it provides us in the pet industry, we get to enjoy all of the fun parts of being Canadian as well. Canada Day is the day that we get to take advantage of all of the perks of being Canadian – the business perks and the personal ones as well! In order to fully appreciate and participate in the holiday, however, we cannot celebrate alone. That’s why we here at Northern like to pass on our love of celebration and patriotism to our furry friends with their own versions of Canadian pride. No longer do our pups have to sit on the sidelines as we gorge on some of the most delicious aspects of being Canadian. This year, it’s time for the dogs to celebrate their patriotism with our brand new Poutine cookies, and some of our older favourites like our Craft Beer biscuits and our fan-favourite Canadian Bacon biscuits. Why should the humans have all the fun when we can all take part in some good old Canuck celebration?
Most of all, we wanted to take the time to thank everyone who shops Canadian and supports local businesses – it’s a beautiful thing to take part in and celebrate when you live in a country as great as this. Don’t forget you can find all of our Canadian pride products to treat your pups such as our Poutine, Craft Beer, and Canadian Bacon biscuits as well as all of our other delicious goodies at www.northernbiscuit.ca! And from everyone here at Northern Biscuit: Happy Canada Day!