Josh Louie hails from Brooklin, descending from a family of entrepreneurs. “I studied entrepreneurship at university, and I have always loved pets,” he said, “So I combined my interests. This is my passion – creating long term relationships with customers by providing high quality pet food, which gives their pets a longer, happier life.”
Josh developed a business plan and began to seek a location for his first pet store. He found Ballantrae and loved it. “The new plaza is beautiful, it has the only Tim’s in town and the community is so welcoming. Soon there will be a boutique grocer, restaurants, nail salon, pharmacy and a variety of medical offices. This will be the hottest location in Ballantrae,” he said.
“I had a soft opening in January 2021, but then the second lockdown came.” Right away, Josh had to revise his business plan around curbside pick-up and free local delivery of pet food and supplies. However, new customers are finding him every day.
First Choice for Pets has a franchise look and feel to it, but Josh reassures me that this is an independent business. “An independent has the advantage of bringing in what people want and need. We are more flexible, and like to specialize in locally made holistic and natural remedies,” said Josh.
Josh has a friendly demeanor and exudes a lot of passion for his pet store. “One day, maybe this will become a chain of pet stores that remain in underserved, rural area,” he said. “I love this environment and the people.”
Our photographer Dennis Hristovski recounted that during the photo session at First Choice For Pets a customer came in. “I was impressed with Josh’s customer service and knowledge of his products. He’s definitely big on products made or sourced locally. The customer has a 15-year old dog who developed skin irritations. Vet bills have been climbing with steroids prescriptions and specialty food. Josh suggested a small bag of all-natural dog food, along with a spray. She was blown away how inexpensive it was and felt very confident leaving the store to have her dog try out these products,” said Dennis.
“Our focus is to carry local, Canadian brands as much as possible that have limited ingredients, fillers or additives. I want the community to build the store, by bringing in what they request so that we are a one-stop shop. I’m taking special requests all the time,” said Josh.
For now, First Choice for Pets delivers for free in a 10km radius around Ballantrae. He is considering expanding free delivery to all of the L4A postal code. Also, make note that the store offers a frequent buyer program with many brands of pet food, a Seniors Day the last Tuesday of every where the majority of the items in store will be 15% off, and monthly draws on their Instagram page – @firstchoiceforpets where contestants can win free toys/food/treats etc.
For more information, visit Josh at 15301 Highway 48 Unit 5, or go to their web page at firstchoiceforpets.ca.