ASHLAND -- Two weeks after the Ashland's Pet Valu closed, the former manager opened a new pet store in its place.
Jennifer Studer, of Mansfield, set out to open the Ashland Pet Store in late 2020 when she learned the retail chain was closing numerous locations, including the Ashland store that she had helped launch a few years earlier.
"At first, I was just in shock because I was losing my job," Studer said. "And then, I started thinking about how important the store has become to the community and their pets. I thought what can I do to keep the store in the community."
She called the building's landlord and asked if he'd be willing to rent the space to her after Pet Valu closed.
"He agreed. So I said, let's do this," Studer said.
Over two months, she led the closure of Pet Valu while making plans for her own business.
Her last day at Pet Valu was Dec. 28, and her first day at the new store was Jan. 1. By Jan. 8, the storefront was open to the public again.
"Maybe we opened a little earlier than we should have, but we wanted a minimal closing for grooming clients. And some customers need a certain food for their dogs," Studer said.
She now orders products from a variety of distributors, allowing a greater variety for customers, she said. The store also now includes live animals and items local vendors -- bandanas, mugs, signs and more.
Chinchillas, guinea pigs and hamsters are for sale, while cats from the humane society are also featured.
"Our focus is community. We're trying to feature the community and work with the community as much as we can," Studer said.
She kept features like the popular wash-your-own-dog station at the new store.
Studer started working for the Pet Valu in Mansfield, but she transitioned to the Ashland Pet Valu about three years ago to lead the new store. She remembers celebrating the location's grand opening.
Now, she anticipates the grand opening for her own store. She's hoping to hold the event on March 13.
The store is open now from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Grooming is available by appointment.