By Jack Krayenhoff

Who on earth would think of selling pet supplies from a video store?

Two local neighbourhood store owners, that's who. Their names are D'Arcy Green and Ed Vulic, and their store is on the corner of Oswego and Beckley. This reporter went there to find out about it, and found Green alone in the store. He had to interrupt the interview several times in order to attend to customers.

As it happened, those interruptions helped a great deal in understanding what makes the store go. Green knew practically all his customers by name and chatted them up a little in a friendly way while doing business. One lady he did not know; he asked her if she was new to James Bay? She said she was, she came from a place near Winnipeg. He welcomed her to the neighbourhood. You could tell he knows and likes his customers. That's an important factor in competing: no one could imagine such exchanges at the check-out of a big chain store.

But Green gives additional reasons. The video business has actually been growing some recently because so many other rental stores closed. He has a large collection in the catalogue section alone: 16,000, and then some 1,000 new releases. The reason he added pet supplies was that he saw customers who came for videos, tie up their dog outside. They would talk about dogs, and the customer would say how handy it would be if he could get dog food here as well. Green, who believes in service, decided to bring it in. Then cat owners, who noticed this, asked about cat food. He brought that in. Then food for pet rats and mice, and for birds and fish. Scratch poles for cats too, and other pet supplies besides food. "We keep the prices competitive with the big stores," Green adds. "We make less profit, but it all helps to make it a community store. That is what I like about the business - it's fun."

I asked if he knows much about pets.

 "Since we started the pet foods, I've made it a point to learn a lot about the needs and problems of pets," says Green. "You can help and prevent much trouble with specific foods, I found out. It's been fun and very interesting to acquire that knowledge."

Does he run the store all by himself?

 "My partner, Ed Vulic, and I work here as much as we can, but the most important man here is Sean, the Manager. He is a great guy, who knows everybody and everybody knows him. He's been here since 1997."

Any last word for our readers?

 "We have sales on, both for buying and renting videos. Our trade mark deal is: 5 movies from our catalogue section for $5 for a whole week.

"What it all adds up to: we won't get rich from this store, but it's a lot of fun. James Bay is a great community!"