Rob Couture, owner of Top Dog Supplies in Soldotna, helps a customer inbetween unpacking boxes of mushing supplies he acquired as a result of Rae's Harness Shop in Anchorage closing. "It's roughly 70 percent more goods and service than what I was already offering," he said.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
A pet supply and feed store in Soldotna is in a position to literally live up to its name.
Top Dog Supplies has recently come into possession of a large quantity of products that may allow them to dominate a largely unoccupied retail niche.
"It's a juicy infusion of mushing and skijoring equipment sleds, snow hooks, harnesses. It's roughly 70 percent more goods and service than what I was already offering," said store owner Rob Couture.
In business, when a door of opportunity closes, a window often opens. Such was the case with Couture's possession of the products.
They came by way of Rae's Harness Shop in Anchorage, which after more than 30 years of operation closed Sept. 15, pushed out of business by larger retailers in the area, such as Petco and Animal Food Warehouse.
Couture was able to acquire what the store didn't liquidate before it closes its doors.
On Friday he began the process of unpacking the dozens of boxes of merchandise.
"We've ended up with a significant level of retail surplus to move. It looks like a U-Haul bomb went off in here," he said.
Despite the extra work unloading and unpacking entailed, Couture said the products will benefit his business greatly.
"For two years, I've been selling quality dog food, treats, pet toys and mushing gear at a limited level, but this will allow me to not only offer more, but offer it at a better price," he said.
"I've got enough stuff here to completely outfit two Iditarod teams," he added.
This comes as good news to the local mushing community, according to Lance Mackey of Kasilof the 2005 Yukon Quest champion and an annual Iditarod competitor.
"It'll benefit every musher on the peninsula both the professionals and the recreational mushers," Mackey said.
He said the benefit will come from not having to make as many trips to Anchorage to purchase needed supplies.
"Going to Anchorage is a pain in the butt, but until now, I had to go because there weren't stores here that catered to the unique demands of mushers.
"Not going to Anchorage will save me time, wear and tear on my vehicles and definitely money with the high gas prices," he said.
Mackey also said when it comes to spending money, he prefers to do it locally whenever possible.
"I'd rather support peninsula businesses, rather than sending all my money to Anchorage or the Interior," he said.
Since Top Dog also is one of his racing sponsors, he stands to gain from their gain.
"As they grow, I grow," he said.
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