Passion for animals turns into retail success

All in the family: Christine Nurse, owner of Fairplay Stores and The Horse Store with her new puppy, Brie, and her two nephews, Reid (left) and Mike Stiles.

All in the family: Christine Nurse, owner of Fairplay Stores and The Horse Store with her new puppy, Brie, and her two nephews, Reid (left) and Mike Stiles.

By Sherry Warner

It was Harvey Mackay, best selling author of Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, who said: “Find something you like to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

For Christine Nurse, that “something to do” was turning her passion for horses and pets into successful specialty pet and horse supply stores — Fairplay and The Horse Store. “There has always been a dog in the family,” says Christine. “When I was 15, I got my first horse and now I have six.” In addition to her horses, Christine has two dogs, Abbey and new puppy Brie, as well as five cats.

Fairplay has been in Christine’s family for over 50 years. It’s success, in the very competitive pet retail market, is based on sound values and business practices, says Christine. “I like to believe that Fairplay is ethical and that we treat our customers and our suppliers fairly.”

Fairplay has many long term staff and customers who come from all parts of the city to shop. “We have customers whose parents shopped at the old store, which was on the corner of Memorial Drive and 10th St., and now their adult children shop here,” says Christine.

“My staff are all very passionate about pets and they really like their customers,” she adds. “What’s really good about the staff is that they know the customers by name or by the name of their pets. For a lot of customers, as soon as they walk in the door, the staff have gone to get them their bag of dog food — they don’t even have to ask.”

Christine depends on her staff to let her know what her customers needs and wants are so she can ensure she always has the right products in stock. They are very knowledgeable about the products in the store and when they can’t answer customers’ questions they won’t hesitate to call the manufacturer to find answers.

Fairplay offers a huge and diverse selection of products for dogs, cats, small animals, birds and wild birds. It also has a nice selection of giftware and cards for pet parents.

Feeding your pet the right food is important to its customers so Fairplay stocks kibble, canned, frozen raw and dehydrated raw food for dogs from quality pet food manufacturers, mostly from Canada and the U.S. There’s a selection of dry, canned and dehydrated food for cats as well as many different types of litter, pellets and different types of hay for small animals and birdseed.

Along with food you’ll find a great selection of accessories, toys, supplements, health aids and grooming supplies for all pets. Fairplay also carries a great selection of wild bird products including bulk and bagged seed mixtures, grains, feeds, bird feeders and bird houses.

Fairplay offers a frequent buyer program to its customers — buy 10 bags of the same food and get the next free. The store also honours the City of Calgary’s I Heart My Pet card. When you license your dog or cat, you receive the I Heart My Pet rewards card, which entitles you to discounts on a variety of products and services at more than 60 partnering vendors. At Fairplay the discount is 10 per cent off non-sale items.

Fairplay is located on Kensington Road just west of Crowchild Trail. It’s open Monday to Friday from 9 to 6, Saturday from 9 to 5:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 5.