From food to toys, computer whiz unleashes new store for pets (6 photos)

‘Customers showing us pictures of their horses, dogs, or cats. It’s the lovely part of retail, meeting people,’ says Tack n Bark owner

Tack n Bark, a new store catering to all things horse and dog, opened this year and hopes to take a bite out of the pet products market in the city.

Located at 28 Currie St., Unit 14, near St. Vincent and Rose streets, Tack n Bark opened in January and supplies customers with quality sourced food and many other horse and pet accessories.

Owner Kajen Selva had created an online ordering platform six years ago and has now branched out to a brick-and-mortar store

“My background in technology allowed me to create the database as well as the online platform. We bring a lot of innovation in e-commerce as well as the fulfillment setup,” Selva tells BarrieToday.

As most business-minded people realize, it takes more than a nice-looking setup to be a success.

“We wanted to ensure that we weren’t going to be another big-box pet shop, so with building a brand and bringing in quality products, we truly worked on doing our research and making sure that the brands and the foods that we brought in was of the highest quality,” he says. “We truly believe in all of the ingredients and we wanted to make sure all of the ingredients were traceable and of premium quality.”

Those products include Open Farm from Toronto, Horizon out of Saskatchewan, and Frumm, a company that invented dog kibbles back in 1904 and which is still a family-owned business.

Getting started in this business evolved naturally for Selva, who rides horses in his spare time.

“I ride dressage, it’s one of my hobbies, and through that a friend of mine asked me to look into something that has to do with the equestrian industry, so I formulated Stable Masters Choice Vitamin E, which is a natural vitamin E for horses . We sell them here and ship them all over the world,” he says.

“I needed a website as people kept calling and asking where they could purchase it from. After I did that, people started asking if I could carry more products, so it was out of that demand, asking for more products for horses. Most horse owners also have dogs, so it’s named Tack and Bark,” Selva adds.

Building a business like this can be a huge undertaking, he admits.

“It’s a lot of work, but people are happy and we have lovely clients. We don’t really spend any money on marketing because we truly stand behind our products and everyone that walks through our door are doing the marketing for us with referrals,” Selva says.

The behind-the-scenes effort is just as demanding and keeps him busy as well. He does all the website coding himself.

“I’m very hands-on. I didn’t have anybody helping me, really,” Selva says. “I did all the wiring for the cameras and the network; that’s my background in the technology industry that allowed me to do all of that, which I also still do as well. I did have some help with painting the place, though.”

When asked about what his favorite part of this new venture is so far, he simply answered “the people.”

“It is very different from what I was doing before. I build technologies, but I think just meeting people and seeing how happy they are, and their puppies as well. Customers showing us pictures of their horses, dogs, or cats. It’s the lovely part of retail, meeting people,” he says.

Being as busy as Selva is, he isn’t about to take any breaks and is already eyeing expansion.

“We are already starting to look at opening another location in Courtice, and I’m hoping to turn this into a national brand. If I can take this across Canada, that would be awesome,” he says.

And the online half of the business is also expanding.

“We are getting ready to launch our new website in a few weeks and we will make other products available for small animals, farm animals, reptiles and more,” Selva says.

“We already do have cat products as we just couldn’t get away from it,” he says with a laugh. “We carry cat food, both wet and dry, as well as cat toys, litter boxes and other cat-related items.”

To find more about this new venture, visit www.tacknbark.com.

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