Competing with the big dogs

The Rapsons jumped at the chance.

Neighborhood residents Linda and Rick Rapson have made a success in a dog-eat-dog business.

When they bought a neighborhood pet supply store 14 years ago, neither of them knew anything about dogs, much less the supplies needed for them. But since that time, they have turned their original 500-square-foot Canine Commissary into three large warehouse-size stores, two in our neighborhood and one in Plano.

“We have constantly done nothing but grow,” Linda says.

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They bought the business when they both decided it was time to move on from their previous jobs.

“As I got older, I thought there must be more,” Linda says.

They decided to open a neighborhood shoe store, and Linda quit her secretary job to sell shoes to ensure she would like retail – she loved it.

But suddenly the owner of the pet supply store they bought their dog food from told them her business was for sale and available.

The Rapsons jumped at the chance.

“We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Linda says.

Linda ran the store the first year. She took in freelance typing and answered the phone for other businesses to help make ends meet.

“I took a very serious approach to it,” Linda says. “I don’t have any business training, but I must have some business sense.”

Rick joined her a year later.

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Canine Commissary continued to grow, eventually taking up the entire shopping center in which the original store was located. Soon the space wasn’t large enough, and they moved to a bigger building at 11504 Garland.

In January 1992, they opened a second store at 3614 Greenville, and in April 1993, they opened the Plano store. Each store is different and reflects the neighborhood in which the store is located, Linda says.

Their goal is to open five stores, but there are no plans yet for the next one, Linda says.

“The growth should come with the natural growth of the store,” Linda says. “We’re very conservative in that respect.”

Running the business is a partnership deal for the Rapsons. Linda handles personnel, advertising and promotions. Rick handled the finances and buying.

“We have devoted our life to this business,” Linda says.

As the Rapsons were expanding Canine Commissary, pet supply chains with corporate backing also began their expansions. But Linda says their customers keep coming back because Canine Commissary offers something they can’t get anywhere else.

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“They still want that down-home service,” Linda says.

News & Notes

NEW RESTAURANT: Kokopelli by Via Real recently opened at 9090 Skillman at LBJ. The restaurant specializes in Mexican and American Southwest dishes. It is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with an extended hour to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For information, call 503-0242.

NEW & BIGGER LOCATION: The Pet Center will be moving from its location in the Lakewood Shopping Center to a store space at Live Oak and Skillman. The new location will allow the store to double its fish stock and supplies and have a special reptile room, says Harold Green, president of the company. The store will also have expanded hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Ebby Halliday Realtors office manager Madge Green was recently awarded the Posie Willess Woman of the Year Award from the Dallas Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Green is also involved in the Greater Dallas Association of Realtors and the Texas Association of Realtors Political Action Committee.

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