It’s long been the place for pet lovers and owners alike to get the things they need for their animals.
From homemade doggy treats to collars to wine glasses with funny sayings, The Doggie Door has always served the community, making it a staple in the Winter Park area since its founding 18 years ago.
However, if you’ve paid a visit to the store recently, signs hanging on the windows declare in red letters the closing of the popular spot.
According to co-owner Brian Wettsein, it’s a move made in response to several factors.
“After 18 years, it’s time for a new chapter,” Wettstein said. “The other answer is that over time, the internet has slowly been eating away at our business — just like it does with any other retail business.
“In order for the new business model to survive, you really need a service element, and so after 18 years, we don’t necessarily see that we are interested in taking the business to the next level of doing that sort of thing,” he said.
The new chapter will follow a successful stint in retail that began back in 1999, when Wettstein and husband, Jeff Brow, were looking at venturing into a small business of some sorts. That’s when the idea for The Doggie Door came to fruition.
Both Wettstein and Brow have had a long passion for animals and their owners, so diving into the world of pet retail made sense. They understood the happiness that animals bring to their owners and the ways in which dogs and cats help bring people together.
“We love animals — we’ve always had animals, dogs and cats,” Wettstein said. “And animal people are good people, and animals are great connectors for humans.”
Originally located at 118 E. Comstock Ave., The Doggie Door was one of two endeavors for Wettstein and Brow. They also opened a store called Olive This, Relish That. The two stores would be combined in 2006 to form their new store, Bullfish — reflective of their respective astrological signs.
After a few years and a couple of moves up and down Park Avenue, The Doggie Door found its most recent home at 329 N. Park Ave.
Sticking with Park Avenue throughout the years was a critical move for many reasons.
“This is a pretty special street, because it is so pet friendly,” Wettstein said. “The farmers market has always been pet friendly, and you can bring your dog into nearly every store on Park Avenue — including the corporate stores.
“This is a special street, too, because when people walk down this street with their dog other people will stop and talk to them — that doesn’t happen every where else,” Wettstein said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a mutt, or pure bred or a hybrid dog — people will stop and talk to you.”
Along with the items sold at their store, The Doggie Door also hosted animal-related events — including a pet costume contest for Halloween, the Dog Days of Summer Wine & Beer Tasting and the Doggie Art Festival.
Wettstein and Brow said they will look back fondly on their time running The Doggie Door.
And their favorite memory?
“(It’s) the joy of people bringing their dogs into our store — it’s just an amazing thing to be able to connect with people’s dogs,” Wettstein said. “Puppies just make the world smile. … Those kinds of things are just beautiful, beautiful things.”