Decatur pet supply store focuses on unique, local items
By Dena Mellick, Associate editor
Decatur’s new pet supply store, Furry Tails Pet Shop, is taking local shopping to a new level.
The shop opened in March at 228 E Ponce De Leon Avenue. Owners Anna Zaveryukha, her husband, Julian Perez-Dowdy, and friend Scott Patterson have focused on unique and hyper-local products, setting it apart from bigger chains like Petco and PetSmart.
“We’re very specific about our brands, what we have. We try to support family businesses, because family businesses really care about what they put in the food for their pets. That’s really important to us,” Zaveryukha said.
Instead of viewing other local pet companies as competition, Zaveryukha has embraced them, adding to her unique inventory raw dog food from Decatur’s Corrina’s Corner and treats from Oakhurst’s Taj-Mahound. The store also carries treats from Low Low Knows Bones, a Decatur treat vendor whose product is found at the Decatur Farmers Market.
Zaveryukha said the owners have worked to make sure Furry Tails Pet Shop is an inviting place for people to come hang out – with or without pets.
“We wanted something different and unique you won’t find at other shops. Even if you don’t have pets, people come and get great gifts for pet lovers in their family,” Zaveryukha said.
The shop also pet-themed tea towels from Avondale Estates artist Claire Christin.
A chance meeting at a trade show led to a partnership between Furry Tails and the non-profit Decatur weavehouse called re:loom. It’s a program that helps homeless adults learn how to produce and sell their own woven wares.
“We just loved the idea of what they do. I said, ‘would you be able to do something for us?’” Zaveryukha said.
Re:loom now supplies treat holder bags for training, pet crate mats, and reflective leashes created from recycled Delta Airlines bags to the store.
Zaveryukha said she moved to the U.S. from Russia six years ago. She and Julian married, and she started working at Petco in North Carolina, where she learned about the pet supply industry. After they moved to Georgia, the two decided they wanted to open their own business, utilizing Zaveryukha’s knowledge of the pet supply industry.
Finding a location for the store wasn’t easy in the beginning. Zaveryukha said because this is their first business, landlords weren’t encouraging as they searched for a shop space in metro Atlanta. But she said their experience was different when they looked in Decatur.
“We called … the landlord, he said we can open up the store the next day for you to look at. He asked what we would open, and we said a pet shop. He said that’s perfect, Decatur needs one.”
Zaveryukha said the business has been doing well.
“We are actually doing great,” Zaveryukha said. “I think just because Decatur is a pet town, and everybody loves their pets. People there are so friendly, and they tell other people to come to our store. It helps that Decatur residents are really concerned about shopping local.”
Furry Tails is having an award-winning silhouette artist at the store on Saturday, July 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., an event also mentioned this week on the city of Decatur’s blog. Edward Casey is one of only a handful of professional silhouette artists in the country, and he’ll be hand-cutting silhouettes of pets for $25.
Zaveryukha said the shop will also have professional dog trainer James Lyon there, a friend and former co-worker from her days at Petco.
Disclosure: Dan Whisenhunt, the editor of Decaturish, is a former board member for the Initiative for Affordable Housing, re:loom’s parent program. Decaturish also provides free advertising for the re:loom program.