A New Breed Of Shopping For The Little Chief At Home
After 15 years of dreaming of opening a socially responsible shop for dogs, Jen and Mike McKenna took the leap two years ago and opened Little Chief & Co in St. Catharines to serve the Niagara Region. Their shop is focused on the cutest member of the family, providing everything from toys and clothes, to treats and food, all for your dog. The brand is built on values of responsibility and education, with a “passion for dogs and a commitment to quality” ingrained deep in the company. “We specialize in; premium and organic treats, pet apothecary products, eco-friendly toys, great clothing, and gear to make each dog’s life a healthy and happy one.”
The store’s health focus allows pet owners peace of mind when shopping for their pups. The McKennas want the ingredients to be organic and high quality, while also putting a focus on sourcing them locally from Canada and when possible, from the Niagara Region. Therefore, the store not only caters to the needs of dogs but also their owners and the environment at large. Soon after starting, the mission of Little Chief & Co. grew so large that it no longer fit within a store and original online presence, and this led to a new addition. By the fall of 2019, the McKennas started looking at ways to not only grow within their area but also saw an opportunity to expand beyond just the Niagara Region.
“We began building the new website in the Fall of 2019, in order to create a more robust experience for our online shoppers.”
An initiative started which turned from great business decision into serendipity by early 2020 once COVID-19 hit Canada. Soon “everything within the brick & mortar storefront was added to the online shop – especially essential items like food/raw food…” and their online store became a one-stop-shop. Already equipped with the makings of an innovative business, the McKennas were able to continue serving their customers despite the ensuing pandemic, allowing them to become “a full-service shop and deliver everything locally as well as offering curb-side and shipping internationally.”
Their growth was made easy through the use of the Shopify platform, and assistance from the ShopHERE Program. With the help of experts, the couple was able to take on a challenge that could have easily “cost thousands of dollars with any agency”. Through the government-funded program, and within a few months, they were able to make the journey without an outrageous investment.
“They offer so many resources to build a strategy, and the grant enabled us to scale and grow our eCommerce site.”
The McKennas recommend the free ShopHERE Program to anyone who needs help bringing and setting their shop online, saying that “it is an amazing concept that enables businesses to transition to online/eCommerce”. And they even go on to tout the benefits of other Digital Main Street programs, including the grant, saying that DMS is designed to provide “benefit for any business…to grow their online presence and future-proof their company.” Meanwhile, for all pet lovers out there, Little Chief & Co. is the place to go if you want your pup to become the new bark of the town.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Meta, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, Ebay and Canada Post.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Southern Ontario.