This year is the 20th anniversary of Leo’s Pet Shop in Oundle, making it one of the longest running businesses in town. The shop was opened by Maria Earl and has been run by her ever since. “They just can’t get rid of me!”
A pet shop was always a natural path for Mrs Earl, as she had grown up with animals. Her parents bred dogs and she had an equestrian background. Her first job involved collecting and selling second-hand equestrian items, which led to her to open the Oundle shop in 1999 to sell horse related merchandise.
Since then the shop has moved on from equestrian supplies, and now sells a huge range of pet supplies across two floors for cats, dogs, all small animals and even chickens.
For Maria the best part of her work is talking about people’s pets and being able to help her customers with advice about care, especially those who may have not had pets before.
“I always have tissues behind the counter for the worried pet owners.”
She also loves to meet her customers’ pets. “All animals are welcome. We even had a cat in the other day!”
Her own dog usually provides faithful company in the shop throughout the long day, a five-year-old rescue greyhound named Katie.
Raising funds for charity is an important sideline in the shop and over the years Mrs Earl has raised £8000 for Cancer Research via the shop.
To celebrate the shop’s 20th anniversary Maria has organised a charity dog walk on Sunday 12th May in partnership with Support Dogs UK. Starting at the recreation ground at 10am, it will follow a four mile trail to nearby villages. Entry and sponsorship forms are available in the shop for £5, to be donated to the charity.
“Support Dogs UK take dogs out of rescue centres and trains them to help children with autism, and anyone with epilepsy or disabilities.”
Mrs Earl will be sponsoring Minta, a support dog that works with a young boy in Peterborough with severe autism, making his life much safer.
Special offers during the month will help support the charity, as well as a tombola table at the
Mrs Earl’s family has been behind her throughout her career, and she is very appreciative of her daughter Kara’s support.
Kara is immensely proud of her mother’s success, and convinced her of the need to mark her shop’s anniversary milestone. “How many other people have been in town for 20 years and run a business single handedly?”
Hannah Wakeford and Lily Hunter