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These Virginia pet shop owners are gifting one of their stores to an employee

The owners say the employee has wanted to own a pet store since she was in elementary school. Now her dream is becoming a reality.

LEESBURG, Va. — Nancy Guinn has owned Dog Krazy Inc. since 2006. She and her husband Chris own and operate seven Dog Krazy locations across Virginia. Now, they are giving one of their employees a gift that will make her childhood dreams come true.

Dog Krazy has locations in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Richmond and Leesburg. Guinn says they opened their Leesburg location three years ago but didn't factor in the distance from the other Dog Krazy locations. 

"I am a hands-on owner and I am present at my stores as much as possible. The rest of our stores are a few miles apart and we are able to spread out and visit them all," Guinn said. "Leesburg is the only store that wasn't getting the attention it deserves."

The COVID-19 pandemic also had an impact, according to Guinn, driving customers to online shopping through their website rather than in-person. Guinn announced they would be closing the Leesburg store.

Credit: Courtesy Nancy Guinn

"After announcing it, customers came back in full force, so we decided against closing," Guinn said. "Business picked up a lot, but [the] distance was still an issue."

That's when they decided that rather than selling or closing the store, they would give it to an employee -- Cindy Samartino. Samartino has worked for Dog Krazy for more than five years.

"We both knew who deserved it," Guinn said. "Cindy is the most wonderful person. I'm tearing up just thinking about how she has been there for us through the ups and the downs. She's the person I call when I need someone to tell me it's all OK."

Samartino entered Dog Krazy as a customer before working at the store part-time and then full-time later.

Owning a pet shop has been a dream of Samartino's for many years. 

"When I was in fifth grade I was tasked with saying what I wanted to do when I grew up. My answer was to own my own pet store," Samartino said.

Samartino will not only take over the store but also everything already inside.

"We gifted the store and everything in it to her," Guinn said.

Samartino was shocked and thankful for the act of kindness.

"This just shows how much Nancy and Chris were listening to me. It definitely took my breath away when they offered me the store," Samartino said. "With their continued mentoring, I hope to be successful and carry on the legacy of Dog Krazy."

Under new ownership, Samartino said she plans to change the name to Wiggle Butt & Whiskers, but will keep running the store the same as it has been under the Guinns.

"Why mess with a proven formula? Same dream, different dreamer," Samartino said.

As for the Guinns, they say they will continue to operate their other Dog Krazy locations, and just announced a new store opening in Richmond. They are also working on another business wholesaling treats made in Dog Krazy's in-house 'barkeries.' 

Samartino will take over the Leesburg shop in the new year.

More information can be found here

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