The Village Shoppes are looking pretty bare these days.
All but one of the tenants have moved out of the Church Street West location in Elmira.
Earlier this year The Kain Group, which owns the building, announced its intentions to consult with the township and the BIA to renovate the building. Previous tenants have since found other locations in and out of town to operate their businesses.
Total Health Pharmacy remains in the building as the only tenant staying on for the renovations.
Pamer Chiropractor and HMC Renewed Wellness moved to the Elmira Wellness Centre in the former township hall on Arthur Street.
The Art of Coffee relocated to its new location next to the library last fall after spending six months in the Village Shoppes.
Flow Café shut its doors at the end of January, and 123 Trade With Me has also closed up shop.
Elegant Fabrics used to be in the basement and moved out of the Village Shoppes at the end of February. They opened their new location near Elora at the beginning of May.
Donna Smith and daughter Lyric Pauley bought Village Pet Food Shoppe from previous owner Steve Thur. The mother-daughter duo relocated to Industrial Drive where Perks Coffee House used to be. Pauley’s Shampoochies Pet Grooming business is under the same roof, instead of operating out of her home.
They opened in the new location at the end of May.
“The other store was a store within a big wooden box and it was hidden inside. It was a big space, but it was dark and didn’t have street exposure until Steve put the grooming room in right at the front,” Smith said.
The store now has two walls of windows, making it nice and bright. Their retail space is only half of what they had in the previous building, meaning everything can’t be on display. But if someone comes in wanting a large item, like a large dog crate for instance, they can show it to them online and Smith will have it delivered to their home.
The move has been good for Pauley’s business as well.
“I loved being out of the house, but I love this more because I get to talk to people. I love the new location as far as the windows, it’s open, it’s bright, we get lots of walk-in traffic from the plaza,” Pauley said.
She had a full clientele out of her home and now she’s added to that with customers coming to the store. The exposure’s actually been so good that she’s in the process of hiring some additional groomers.
“Which is good business for Elmira, to create a couple jobs,” Smith added.
Buying the business together was a perfect fit because Smith has been breeding dogs for years and taking courses on animal health, while Pauley was unable to expand her business out of her home because of bylaws restricting her from hiring employees.
“It’s a family business, just a new family business,” Smith explained.
“And it’s always been a family-run business, always been independent and we’re keeping it independent. We like the freedom we have, that independence of carrying whatever we want, not being within the restraints of any kind of franchise or chain, and giving people what we want. They’ll say ‘we were thinking of trying this food’ and we’ll say ‘we’ll try to get that for you.’”
She notes they saw new small animal products at a recent pet food show that actually make the animals not smell so bad because their waste isn’t so smelly, which is something they’re looking to add to their store.
Pauley’s fiancé Justin Smith is also knowledgeable about wild birds and has mixed a custom blend of seeds to attract certain types of birds, and not squirrels, which they’re selling at the store.
“What we carry is stuff that we believe in. Things that we don’t believe in we’re slowing getting rid of, trying to change the public opinion on certain things that we have in the store … gently urging them to use better quality. It might cost a tiny bit more, but I guess it really depends on do you want to pay money now or do you want to pay money later to fix the problem you’ve created,” Smith said.
They agree it’s all about keeping pets healthy and happy for as long as possible without having to pay high vet bills.
They’ll be adding more natural essential oils and holistic medicine for dogs, as Smith takes more courses, along with raw food and food that’s free of soy, corn, and wheat for pets with allergies. Pet owners are always welcome to come in and get free advice on health or grooming.
“As a groomer I see their dog way more often than the vet does. I’ll notice if a lump gets bigger or if they have more skin issues than they had the time before. And I’m pretty good at remembering whether it’s a seasonal type of allergy or it’s a chronic thing, which is more likely food, so I’ve always said try the food, change that first. It’s so much cheaper than going to the vet,” Pauley said.
Pauley’s been grooming for 10 years now and is doing a cat grooming course right now, with the hopes of offering cat grooming at the store in the future.
They’re also excited about the prospects of an off-leash fenced-in dog park at the end of Oriole Parkway, which Pauley has been working on for four years to come to fruition.
Keith Schelter, owner of Schelter Office Plus, has also found a new spot for his business at 1 Union Street in the historic Roxton Furniture building
They moved in on the May 24 long weekend and he said so far customer feedback has been really positive.
“The part of the building that we’re in is the oldest part of the building. I think it’s about 100 years old. It’s got the high ceilings and it’s got the exposed brick walls, that real factory feel to it. We’ve tried to maintain some of that heritage and character, but we’ve put paint here and paint there, where required to try to get it cleaned up,” Schelter said.
He says other than that their retail face is very similar to what they had in downtown Elmira, but they’ve expanded their office furniture showroom and their own offices as well. They also have warehousing, shipping and receiving here that they didn’t have when they were on Church Street.
They’d been looking for a location with warehouse space for a few years and he says their decision to leave was advanced by the upcoming changes at the Village Shoppes.
“Our challenge has been that as the business has grown over the years it’s grown to a point where the amount of product that we were handling that used to come in by the box load then started to come in by the skid load, and then from the skid load to the truck load. And of course there was no proper receiving solution downtown for those large trucks, so we were renting warehousing space in Wallenstein for the last number of years,” Schelter said.
This meant their trucks had to run from downtown Elmira out to Wallenstein to pick up product and then if they forgot anything it was another trip out to Wallenstein and back, which wasn’t very efficient.
The new location fits them well with lots of retail space and parking.
“We’re here, we have the same hours of operation we had downtown. There’s lots of parking, including horse tie-ups in front of the building and we’re the same old Schelter’s we always were, just in a different spot.”