When Gregory Janicki found himself out of a job, he was at a crossroads.
The Gold River mill had just been shut down and, desperate to stay in Campbell River where he was raised, he knew he needed to expand his horizons.
So, he enrolled in the business program at Discovery Community College.
“I loved the community and wanted to stay in the community,” Janicki says. “I had never been in business but it piqued my interest.”
As fate would have it, as Janicki was nearing the end of his program, he got a phone call that would change his life.
His mother-in-law told Janicki she had earlier that day stopped by Dogwood Pet Mart and it came up in conversation that the owner was looking to retire. The owner told Janicki’s mother-in-law that coincidentally he was preparing to list the store the next day.
“My mother-in-law told him ‘don’t do that, I think I know someone who may be interested,’” Janicki recalls.
Janicki says that when his mother-in-law called to tell him the news, he was initially hesitant.
“My exact words were ‘what am I going to do with that hot dog stand?’ and my mother-in-law told me that she thought the store did quite well,” Janicki says.
So, he took a leap of faith, called up the owner and they met for coffee the next day.
“We looked over everything and we literally did it over a handshake,” Janicki says. “It’s kind of crazy how one door closes, you stay positive and keep your eyes and ears open and it literally fell in my lap and it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.”
That was 18 years ago.
Though the store has existed for 33 years as of Nov. 1, Janicki has been the owner for the past 17.
He’s used his success for good and is passionate about giving back to the community.
Dogwood Pet Mart is this year providing prizes for this Sunday’s SPCA Paws for a Cause event, which raises money for the SPCA; and the store is also sponsoring a hole in this weekend’s Campbell River Hospital Foundation golf tournament fundraiser.
Janicki and his team are also getting ready to do their annual Christmas pet photos which, every single year, have raised more than $1,000 in just four hours for the SPCA.
Janicki, through his business, also sponsors school groups and sports teams and has donated money and product to the local fire departments, dog and cat rescue groups.
Years ago, when there was a need, Dogwood Pet Mart also stepped up as a satellite adoption centre for the local SPCA and adopted out 1,300 kittens.
Janicki says he and the store’s seven employees are all community-oriented and try to help out where they can.
Janicki even personally delivers pet food directly to businesses and on occasion to float planes and the Quadra ferry to waiting customers. He also delivers to the homes of customers who can’t make it into the store, including to a woman who is legally blind.
Janicki says it’s the least he can do.
“Being really involved in the community is really important to me. I feel very fortunate to be in this community and I love to be able to give back to the community,” he says. “It’s a really nice feeling to help out where you live and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“Raising my family here, I just love the surrounding area. I love to mountain bike, I love to fish, I love to kayak, I love to camp,” Janicki adds. “And all of those things are in our beautiful backyard.”
Janicki is also thankful for his loyal customers who keep on coming back.
He strives to provide “exceptional customer service” and says that he’s fortunate to be an independent business and have the flexibility to purchase special orders for customers who are looking for items that may not be on the shelves.
The store specializes in pet food and carries a wide selection of healthy, natural dog and cat food, as well as a huge selection of toys, treats and pet beds.
“We’ve really adapted to people’s changes and wants,” Janicki says. “We’re like a mom and pop store; we really are all about the service and knowing our customers’ names and what they purchase.”
Dogwood Pet Mart is located at 223 Dogwood Street, next to 7-11.