Critters & Company has been owned by Nathan and Debbie Wilkie since December 2015. The store specializes in creating an environment that encourages families to come by. It’s a common site to see young children holding kittens or bunnies or talking to some of the exotic birds. Debbie says, “We are known to many as the Clinton Zoo. We know animals want to be petted and loved.”
Walking through the door of Critters & Company at Kens Corner is the beginning of an adventure. Besides the kittens and bunnies that are at the front of the store to welcome visitors, there is a macaw on a branch facing out the window who glances around at the people coming in. Walking further into the store, there is a large area with tropical fish, a space for some impressive large and small reptiles, assorted small mammals, birds, and of course, all of the supplies needed to care for the various pet possibilities.
Debbie Wilkie is usually at the register at the front, ready to answer any questions. She is quick to notice the children who come into the store and encourages them to pick up the baby animals and make friends with them.
Soon after arriving on Whidbey, Debbie applied for a job at a pet store called Critters & Company that was a few doors down from where the store is located now. Debbie comments, “I always wanted to own a pet store.” It took several times of approaching the previous owner, before he agreed to sell the business to her family.
The Wilkies were able to make the purchase with help from Whidbey Island Local Lending (WILL). They have a desire to find ways to give back to the community in appreciation for being able to achieve their dream.
Although Debbie operates as the store manager most of the time, she is often assisted by her family as co-managers and sales specialists, including her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Melody who is 16.
In addition to selling pets and pet supplies, Critters & Company offers a pet sitting business, and it’s not unusual to learn that a particular reptile or a bird is at the store while the owners are away on vacation. Nathan is also doing K9 dog training. They also offer an apprenticeship program for children nine and over and also partner with South Whidbey High School to help children learn the responsibilities involved with owning a pet.
Critters & Company is maintaining a partnership with South Whidbey Animal Clinic. Most of the animals sold at the store are rescue animals, rather than animals obtained from breeders. Any animal purchased there comes with a health guarantee and a working relationship with the store and the vet. As Debbie explains, “It’s about finding the animal a forever home.”
The Wilkies take some of their animals for visits to schools, the Whidbey Island Fair and to various other animal shows on Whidbey Island. Through their “Banjo Fund” (there is a donation jar at the front desk) they have rescued 27 dogs within the last three years. They also have a giant tortoise, Raja, who is often seen coasting around the store and up and down the sidewalk in the front.
For more information about Critters & Company, visit their Facebook page, or give them a call, at Call (360) 341-1456, or stop by the store in Ken’s Corner, Clinton. Hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Check their Facebook page to see what critters are available: https://www.facebook.com/critterswhidbey/