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The Pooch and Pony is a pet retail store and salon in the heart of Stony Plain, offering pet owners a wide range of products and services for pets of all sizes, just as the name indicates. The store offers a diverse base of services such as skilled grooming, canine massage and quality retail products. Dina and Summer Merrills have worked hard to develop a memorable customer experience at The Pooch & Pony, and they swear by it. The women were praised by the Stony Plain Chamber of Commerce as having “redefined the concept of family business.”
The Pooch and Pony was founded by Dina and Summer Merrills, a powerful mother- and daughter-in-law duo with a passion for animals. Dina has a family history of entrepreneurialism, and watched her parents run a successful business for her entire youth. Into adulthood, she and her husband have run a local business together as well. After retiring from a successful career in the power industry, Dina sought her next chapter and ventured into the pet world with her daughter-in-law Summer. Summer’s love for animals had initially led her into a career path as veterinary technician. Unfortunately, lingering effects from a bad accident years prior left her unable to perform physically demanding work for long hours as the veterinary field often requires. In figuring out her next steps, Summer knew that she needed to stay in touch with her animal-lover roots, and the pair founded the Pooch and Pony in 2012 and built it from the ground up to where it is today.
Summer and Dina wanted to do business in a smaller community where they could focus on building a family without sacrificing their entrepreneurial spirit. The women did their homework, and market research pointed to a need for pets and horses in Parkland County. These owners were attracted to Stony Plain’s hospitable nature, as they wanted to develop strong relationships with customers. Dina and Summer felt there was no question it was the right place for The Pooch and Pony to thrive. It became even clearer to Summer and Dina after setting up shop that they had made the right choice, and they note The Stony Plain Chamber of Commerce as an wonderful resource to business owners for its networking and educational opportunities.
Since its beginning 5 years ago, The Pooch and Pony has experienced steady growth, reaching a milestone of a 26% increase in year-over-year sales. In the second year of ownership, the women felt the need to expand so that they could better meet the community’s needs. The shop now boasts a staff of 12, which consists of 8 professional pet groomers, 3 front-end client care representatives and a Canine Massage therapist. Recently, the Pooch and Pony has been nominated for the Alberta Chamber Small Business of Distinction Award, and the owners as individuals for the Alberta Chamber Women Entrepreneur of Distinction Award.