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Pet business set to open despite dispute - All The Best Pet Care to open in September

By Ruth Longoria

Pets and their humans will see a new, purr-haps familiar face this fall when All The Best Pet Care, a specialty pet supply store with locations in Seattle and Redmond, opens its sixth shop -- here on the Island.

Things seem to be on track for the store's anticipated Sept.1 opening, at 3037 78th Ave. S.E., in the Mercer Island Shopping Center by Rite Aid, said Susan Moss, owner of the All The Best Pet Care chain of stores.

However, there might be one fur ball in the mix. The store had planned to place an attractive display of cats eligible for adoption in the shop's front window. The adoptable cats will be provided by the Arlington-based Purrfect Pals, a licensed no-kill shelter.

After the lease was signed -- with provisions for a regular supply of up to four feline up-for-adoption tenants -- Moss received notification from her landlord that the cats can't be displayed in the shop window. The reason? Another business planning to relocate to the same shopping center apparently took issue with displaying the cats.

Haruko's Restaurant owner Isao Wakayama acknowledged the restaurant is in negotiations to move to the Mercer Island Shopping Center. The restaurant is moving from its current location on 76th Avenue S.E. as property owner ERA Care Communities plans to build a six story, 130-unit senior citizen apartment complex there. Wakayama said he has ``no comment'' on his stance on the pet store or its occupants.

Mercer Island Shopping Center is owned by Gull Oil Industries. Its Seattle-based attorney, Bill Block, said that although there is no specific wording in the lease as to where the cats can or cannot be displayed, the lease allows for rules and regulations. And rules for what's in the front of the building can be decided the same as with display signs and awnings, Block said.

Next week, Gull Oil Industries' representative, Bill Vivian, will sit down with the tenants and look at ways to resolve the issue, Block said. ``We need to look at how do you make it work, and don't get caught in statements of what's required,'' Block said.

Moss said she's hopeful that the situation will be resolved. She's going ahead with plans to bring what she calls a ``much needed facility'' to the Island.

All The Best Pet Care doesn't sell pets. It charges an $85 adoption fee for the cats that goes directly to the no-kill shelter to pay for the cost of the animal's spay or neuter, vaccinations and other related costs, Moss said.

What the store does sell is nutritional cat and dog foods and treats, including Moss' own line of raw meat items and several brands of organic foods. The store also sells a plethora of useful and frivolous products, such as collars, leashes, dishes, doggy dresses, coats, backpacks, carrying purses and other accessories. Pretty much what any pet or pet lover could desire, from chew treat Greenies to designer Kitty litter boxes and a $150 dog stroller, is available.

``This is a must-have to take your baby on an afternoon stroll,'' Moss joked Wednesday morning as she demonstrated the collapsible capabilities of one of the strollers on sale at her Madison Street store in Seattle.

Although All The Best Pet Care is doing well financially -- so much so that the five stores generated $4 million in revenue last year, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal -- Moss isn't just in business to take her patron's money. In the past 20 years as a business owner, she's trained employees to listen to customers and offer advice on pet problems and nutrition. She also offers free nutritional information and seminars for customers.

``We want to engage with every customer, we want them to learn something,'' she said. ``We don't claim to be medicinal, but we can offer the experience and knowledge of nutritional values. That's what sets us apart from other stores.''

Moss has wanted to open a shop on the Island for quite a while, she said. One reason is because her veterinarian, Jacqueline Obando, of the Mercer Island homeopathic veterinary service Mercy Vet, has expressed a need for Moss' services on the Island.

``At first I though Mercer Island wasn't big enough for us, but there's an unmet need. Cats and dogs are going hungry and unappreciated there,'' Moss said with a laugh.

Mark Quint, marketing director for All The Best Pet Care, said Moss' love of animals and passion for nutrition is what makes the stores a success.

``Susan is a pioneer of the nutritional value of raw food for pets, that's why she has her own line of products,'' he said. ``She has pets and she loves pets. It's her mission to enrich the lives of cats and dogs on the planet. She takes her knowledge of pets and uses it to help other people who also love pets.''

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