Green Tails Market will open Sept. 13 at 16 LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center.
By Ronni Newton
Green Tails Market is the type of retailer local dogs and cats – as well as their owners – want to wag their tails about, as the eco-friendly pet store opens a new shop at 16 LaSalle Road, in the heart of West Hartford Center.
“It’s been amazing – I could pinch myself,” said Ann Fryer, co-owner of the store with her husband, Paul Fryer. “Chester and I can walk to work,” she said of her 12-year-old Golden Retriever who has already been accompanying her on to the shop every day from their home, which is just a few blocks away.
The Fryers first opened their mom and pop store in Farmington in 2012, but although having a shop in West Hartford – where Paul grew up and where Anne has lived since 2002 – was always a dream, they didn’t think it would be possible. Years ago, she said she and her first dog, Hickory Rose, loved working together at the Three Dog Bakery in the Center.
The Fryers learned in May that they would need to vacate their current space at 1085 Farmington Avenue in Farmington, where they had been for more than six years after expanding from their first tiny space at 784 Farmington Avenue. While they found another spot in Farmington – the former Claudia’s Grinders space at 1035 Farmington Avenue (Claudia’s moved across the street), it was smaller. They were not looking forward to having to contract their inventory, but didn’t want to lose their customer base.
“Just as a coincidence we noticed that this was available,” Ann said of 16 LaSalle Road, which had recently been used primarily as a pop-up for activities related to the now-closed SockStarz next door. “One thing led to another and as we started to consider the possible benefits we got excited.”
While the two stores aren’t very far apart, having two smaller stores does provide an expanded customer base. “It worked out that having two smaller shops could mean growth and a larger reach,” she said, and they have always had a large number of West Hartford customers.
“Paul has been working so hard. I’m so proud of what he has built,” Ann said of her husband, who has a full-time job as a project manager but built all of the displays – which look like dog houses – and counters in the West Hartford shop from reclaimed wood. “He’s always been an entrepreneur, and is always making repurposed furniture,” she said.
When they first launched their business Paul ran the store, but they later switched roles and Ann left her career as a speech therapist to run Green Tails Market.
The West Hartford Center location is also the ideal launchpad for delivery via their e-bike which has a cargo box on the back that’s large enough to hold six good-sized bags of kibble. The zero-emissions deliveries are free throughout West Hartford.
“We’ve always delivered,” said Ann, noting that it was something that allowed them to grow through the pandemic.
She said her son was still in preschool when things shut down in 2020. They decided to shut the store to foot traffic so she could safely bring her son to work, and keep the business going. Now in elementary school, he’s learned the business from the ground up, too, and eagerly helps carry bags of kibble.
In addition to Ann, Green Tails has four employees, so while she will primarily work out of the West Hartford location there will be continuity in Farmington as well.
“Our focus is sustainability, natural foods,” said Ann.
Brands of wet and dry dog food include Go!, Canine Caviar, Now, Fromm, Acana, Orijen. If Green Tails carries it, “there’s more than one identifiable meat as the first ingredient, nutrient density, minimal processing. If it’s here, I’ve picked it,” she said. And while the display area is relatively compact in the roughly 500-square-foot space, there is a large basement storage area where they stock all sizes of food.
“We also have a freezer,” she added, where they stock frozen raw and frozen gently-cooked products, to be used as a topper or as a complete meal, all which can be components of a completely balanced pet diet. Ann said Chester, and her previous Golden, Ellie May, who lived to be 17, have been raw fed.
“I’m excited to have the fresh food here. I really do credit the raw food with Ellie May’s longevity,” Ann said. They also have goat’s milk – which among other uses is great for puppies and for soothing sensitive stomachs – and frozen bone broth.
Ann said she’s seen a lot of dogs over the years, and she is able to provide suggestions of foods and/or supplements that work for a particular pet’s needs.
She’s hopeful that the West Hartford Center location will not only be popular with regular customers, but will also be convenient for those who may come to the Center for dinner and suddenly remember they need dog food.
There’s also plenty of cat food available – kibble, wet, freeze-dried, and raw – plus Steve’s Real Food which is good for both dogs and cats.
Green Tails also has a wide variety of other pet-related products, all with a nod to sustainability and keeping the price point reasonable. There are decorated treats, dog and cat beds, collars, leashes, and toys, and she plans to also stock bandanas and bow ties.
She showed off a few of her favorites, including the collars from Pupsicle Shop and Cycle Dog – the latter of which is made from recycled plastic bottles and bicycle tire tubes.
The “dumpster fire” toy is “the official toy of back-to-school,” Ann said. Some of the toys squeak, some have a ball hidden inside so that once the stuffed toy is past its useful life there is a toy that remains, and another toy includes both a squeaker and a place to hide treats. There’s also a crinkly manatee (a nod to Ann’s childhood in Florida) with a ball inside.
Some hedgehog toys [Editor’s note: my dog’s favorite] are on order, too.
The “snowy owl” cave is for cats or small dogs. It’s 100% wool, made by female artists in Nepal, and smells like lanolin, which attracts pets. “It smells like mom,” she said.
Lick mats are great for dogs that have anxiety. “Active licking actually calms them,” Ann said. The lick mat can be spread with a layer of frozen pumpkin or peanut better, and the licking action will keep a dog busy for long enough and calm them down.
“Unique stuff, that’s what we like to do,” Ann said.
Among the assorted treats are bags of “crickets” – which are green and actually made from the insects, but are shaped like bones. “Crickets are a sustainable protein,” Ann said. Plus the bag itself is biodegradable.
“One of the things that’s really near and dear to our hearts is sustainability,” said Ann. In addition to carefully choosing products and delivering by e-bike whenever possible, Green Tails Market supports tree planting, locally and beyond.
So many trees in West Hartford were destroyed in the October 2011 snowstorm and other recent storms, and Ann said Green Tails Market has been a strong supporter of the West Hartford Tree Project, which provides residents with trees each spring to help restore the landscape. They also partner with the international organization “One Tree Planted,” giving a donation for every 100 pounds of kibble sold to help plant mangrove trees.
“We look forward to doing more of that,” she said.
“We do t-shirts as well,” said Ann. Those are for the humans, and can be customized with a name and image of a pet, and they also have some pet-related “fake brand” logo shirts available. Soy candles are for the humans, too.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Ann said of the imminent opening of the shop.
Green Tails Market will have a soft opening on Wednesday, Sept. 13, and a grand opening in October. For more information, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram (@greentailsmarket).
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