A Baraboo pet store is under new ownership, and the staff employs a hands-on approach. At Em-J’s Creature Comforts, animals are held daily by staff and shoppers alike.
“We don’t want it to live in a tank all its life; we want it to be part of the family,” owner Michele Young said.
She was an eight-year employee at the Lynn Avenue shop, then known as Pet Supply. Jane Fry, who founded the business in 2001, sold it to Young and her daughter Jazmyne Mack, another longtime employee, in October.
They went to work refreshing the 10-room building’s look, but were pressed by impatient customers eager to buy pets, food and accessories. “People were coming in while we were trying to work here,” Young said. “We have a lot of regulars.”
Em-J’s sells common household pets such as puppies, kittens and birds, as well as exotic reptiles. Young plans to open a reptile room to showcase bearded dragons, snakes and gekkos. A teenage turtle, Mork, serves as the store’s mascot.
The store offers holistic pet foods made in America. Accessories include tanks and toys. In addition to sales, the business offers grooming services and reptile day care.
“We try to cater to what our regulars want,” Young said.
The store is staffed by Young and her daughters, Mack and Jaa’La Edwards. Volunteers help clean cages and play with animals. “I like being here all the time,” Mack said.
While big-box stores offer pet food at lower prices, Em-J’s has developed a following as a large independent offering high-quality, hard-to-find merchandise. It draws customers from places such as Mauston, Reedsburg, Sauk City and Richland Center.
Those customers were happy to see the store reopen, telling the new owners they were glad to see them back. “We hear that about 10 times a day,” Young said.