HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO                                Robin Neil of Robin’s Pet Supplies smiles with her dogs, Mickey and Hank.

HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Robin Neil of Robin’s Pet Supplies smiles with her dogs, Mickey and Hank.

Robin’s Pet Supplies is celebrating 16 years in business

“I thought I’m going to jump right into this, and I’ve never looked back.”

Robin Neil is celebrating her sweet 16 – that is to say, 16 sweet years of owning and operating her own business.

Neil and her husband moved to the North Island 22 years ago, and before opening her Port McNeill pet supplies store, she worked at the Shoe Inn – a store that sold shoes, giftware, and pet supplies.

“When they retired, they closed the business down and they sold this whole mall, so I was out of a job,” said Neil.

She decided to open her own business after seeing a “Do you want to start your own business” ad through Community Futures.

“I had a slew of my own animals and nowhere to buy good pet food,” said Neil. “Having worked in kind of a pet store before, I knew I loved it, and I thought ‘I’m going to jump right into this’, and I’ve never looked back.”

Neil said her first year in business was nerve-wracking, but her saving grace was being located right next to the veterinarian.

“People were coming in and saying ‘you don’t have much stock in here’, so I was panicking thinking I had to fill my store as fast as I can – now 16 years later I’m having problems finding places to put stuff in here,” laughed Neil.

Neil has a wide customer base from all over the North Island, ranging from Port McNeill to Port Hardy, Alert Bay, Sointula, Zeballos, Gold River, and even as far as Bella Bella or River’s Inlet.

“I have customers that used to live here and come back for vacation and stuff and do a whole bunch of shopping here,” said Neil, adding that she is proud to feature Candian and BC made treats.

She loves animals and has a cat and two Chihuahuas named Hank and Micky that she often brings to the store. She even admitted to having a better memory for her customers’ dogs’ names than their own.

“I get myself in trouble sometimes because people come in and I call them by their dogs names,” she said with a laugh.

Robin’s Pet Supplies provides a wide selection of supplies for all pets, but you won’t find a wide selection of pets to purchase.

“I don’t like impulse sales of pets,” explained Neil. “I will special order a pet in sometimes, but we try to re-home, so if someone needs to give up their pet for any reason, they can come in and ask for our help here.”

She does have fish and a little budgie in the store that she’s nicknamed “Angry bird” because he resembles the popular characters in Angry Birds.

Neil said her business hasn’t changed much over the years, mainly because she is still small and close to all of her customers, but she has learned a lot as time has passed on by. “I’ve learned a lot about pets and nutrition, all aspects of looking after a pet, and have been able to relay that on to my customers.”

One thing Neil is certain about is she wouldn’t want to do anything else for a living.

“I love doing this,” she said. “I love being on the North Island – I think the people are great, the pets are great, and I don’t know if I have another 16 years left in me, but I’m going to try.”

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read