Co-owners Deb Maddocks, left, and Barb Ashmead are joined by ‘Joy’, the queen of Qualicum Beach Pet Foods. — J.R. Rardon photo

Pet shop partners give back to community

Qualicum Beach Pet Foods carries on in third decade

For a business that Barb Ashmead planned to own for only a year, Qualicum Beach Pet Foods has proven remarkably resilient. Now in its 23rd year, the pet shop on First Avenue is perhaps best known by its secondary name: “The little store that gives back to its community.”

“It’s what we’ve all kind of been brought up to do, is to give back,” said Ashmead, who took on Deb Maddocks as partner in 1998. “We probably would have been richer if we never had. But we like what we do.”

The store carries food and treats, as well as all the toys and accessories necessary for dog and cat owners. But Qualicum Pet Foods has become far more than a quick stop-and-shop location. It has also been the home of Qualicum Beach Cat Rescue for the past 12 years, and is the headquarters of Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs, which began four and a half years ago.

Most of the work of running the two additional organizations is done by the two women, on top of the day-to-day operation of the pet shop.

“We built on it,” Ashmead said of the business. “And we continue to build on it. As it expands, we just figure it out. So we work a lot of hours.”

Ashmead and a partner decided to open the store when she took a year off from her studies toward a master’s degree following her father’s death in 1994. They were living in Victoria at the time, and had another couple managing the store.

“The idea was to start it for a year and flip it,” said Ashmead.

But money issues well before the year was out prompted Ashmead to split with her partner, let the store manager go and move to Qualicum Beach to try to stop the bleeding.

“I lived in the back of the store for the first six weeks,” she said. “I had $6,200 in stock. That was it.”

At this time, Maddocks was manager of Coastal Community Credit Union, where Ashmead set up her business account. So the two had known each other for several years when Maddocks walked in and said she was interested in partnering in the pet store.

“I basically told her she was nuts,” Ashmead said. “I said, ‘Do you understand the drop in wages you’re going to take?’”

“Yeah, I had to take a big drop,” Maddocks added with a laugh. “People were shocked. But I was looking around for a business, and I wanted to stay in Qualicum Beach.”

Since teaming up, the two have issued more than 2,500 free spay/neuter certificats through the cat rescue program and have grown Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs from a single client to a 34-team organization matching service dogs with sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ashmead has also travelled extensively as a volunteer with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team, helping spay and neuter animals on First Nations reserves and elsewhere.

Qualicum Beach Pet Foods is located at 104-166 First Ave. W. The store hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and closed Sunday.

Just Posted

Parksville-Qualicum home prices skyrocket

Benchmark price jumps 16 per cent in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Kiosk designed to help residents, visitors of Parksville Qualicum Beach

Parksville chamber hopes this to be first of many

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Corfield Street construction starts in Parksville

Crews will avoid shopping centre disruptions during Christmas

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

Proposed snowmobiles along Sicamous roads concern RCMP

RCMP, ICBC and province not yet on-board with proposed off-road bylaw in the B.C. Interior

‘Assemble your own meal’ kits grow into $120M industry in Canada

Kits offer a middle ground between eating out and grocery shopping

Millennials closing in as B.C.’s biggest wine drinkers

Generation X leads the way in current consumption of B.C. wine, as more wine drinkers are enjoying local varietals

Canadians lag behind Americans in giving to charity

Only one-in-five Canadians donated to charities in 2017

Police continue to seek missing Qualicum Beach woman

Oceanside RCMP requesting public assistance in locating Carmel Georgina Gilmour

Pair of pubs in Nanaimo scrap straws

VIU Students’ Union Pub, Dinghy Dock Pub no longer put straws in drinks

One man in hospital following targeted shooting in Courtenay

A 57-year-old Courtenay man is in hospital with a gunshot wound following… Continue reading

B.C. children adoption rates lagging, despite increased funding: watchdog

More than 1,000 children children are still waiting to be adopted, new report shows

Most Read