K&S Pets opens in Brainerd
Imagine a pet pig the size of a tea cup.
For Kacie Johnson, it could be perfect addition to her new pet store in Brainerd. She flipped through photos of the tiny pet pigs on her phone. The micro mini teacup pigs were posed next to cups, cats and cellphones to give an indication of their minute size.
“It is so cute,” Johnson said. “Who doesn’t want a micro pig.”
Johnson recently opened K&S Pets with friend and business partner Sarah Schaltron, a familiar face in the pet store business. Schaltron formerly owned PetNorth when it was next to Ace Hardware in Brainerd and for the short time it was open in Baxter. Lack of a required air handling system in the building helped lead to the revocation of a conditional use permit and a mishap with a car, which crashed into an exterior wall, helped put an end to hopes of operating the business there.
In considering trying again in Brainerd, Schaltron said Johnson provided encouragement.
“She was like ‘We can do this. We can support each other,’” Schaltron said. “I think it is going to be good.”
Johnson said her strengths are on the business side with paperwork and details and organization. Johnson previously was a medical secretary at the Essentia Health clinic in Pequot Lakes and she worked as a vet tech for about six years, predominately with horses and large animals.
Johnson joked if the animals have scales or gills, the ball is in Schaltron’s court. Johnson is still be getting used to corralling crickets, but the pet shop is letting her get back to her animal science roots.
The cricket corralling was so entertaining to customers, they posted the event on their Facebook pages and sent mobile messages from the store.
K&S Pets opened the doors Wednesday. The shop is set in the middle of the strip mall along Highway 210 at the East Brainerd Mall corner.
The new pet store is focusing on fresh and saltwater fish, small animals (mice, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs), reptiles, along with pet supplies, food and toys. K&S is carrying Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul and Taste of the Wild pet food.
Johnson and Schaltron are staffing the store together. They want to take customer recommendations as they look at the store’s inventory. They want to carry a few equine products as well, horse halters and treats.
Both women were transplants to the lakes area as teenagers, Schaltron from California and Johnson from Nebraska. They said they complement each other’s skills and personalities. Their goal is to create a full-service shop right down to carrying out purchases to vehicles and they said they want to be responsive to customers’ requests.
The saltwater fish are expected to arrive in less than two weeks. The fish tanks, a battery of them with a high-tech system that automates the cleaning and feeding, were developed by Marineland. Pushing one button is all it takes to feed fish in multiple tanks. The system also operates with timers.
K&S has 22 freshwater tanks and 12 saltwater. Hardy glofish stand out among the early fish inhabitants with their neon colors flitting and gliding through the aquarium.
Customer Josh Gunderson watched the progress on the pet store as he arrived for work at Cub Foods. He was one of the first customers looking to add to his aquarium, picking up some rosy barb fish.
Gunderson said he’s had fish all his life. Watching them is relaxing, he said. Recently, without a pet store in Brainerd, he’s driven to St. Cloud for fish and ordered supplies online. Now the Brainerd store provides an alternative much closer to home.
Schaltron said the shop is the right size for them to operate and they’ll focus on their core products with the possible exotic addition bred in southern states.
After all those tiny pigs are litter-box trained and fit in the palm of a hand. They retail for about $800. But the buyer needs to be prepared for a long-term relationship. A teacup pig’s lifespan may be 15 to 20 years.