From retail and restaurants to tech and media, contractors to coworking spaces, large, small, and everything in between, a diverse array of businesses call Alexandria home. In our new blog series, Growing in Alexandria, we will sit down to talk with businesses around the City to learn more about who they are, what they do, and why they love it here. Have an idea for a business to talk to? Email us!
In October, we sat down with Jeff McDonald, Owner of Wag & Brew– a boutique doggy day care.
AEDP: Tell us about Wag and Brew.
Jeff: We are a boutique indoor doggy daycare. We offer hourly, half day and full day daycare for your dog, which is great for their socialization and expending energy. We also provide overnight boarding and dog baths. On Sundays, we are also an indoor dog park; we have owners and their dogs come in and hang out in the play area. We put some high-top tables back there and servers to bring you items from our cafe. We have a coffee, beer, and wine bar for you to pick up a coffee before work or to have a beer and watch the dogs when you pick up your pet. We support other local business by serving their products at the bar, including pastries from Buzz Bakeshop, beer from Port City Brewing (both Alexandria businesses), and Cervantes Coffee in Springfield.
AEDP: How did you get started?
Jeff: I worked for my family’s business until we sold the company about two years ago. I knew I wanted to use it as an opportunity to switch gears. I was tired of wearing a suit to work every day, and wanted to do something I was passionate about. I have two dogs – a German shepherd and a Chow Chow – that I had been taking to doggy daycares for years. I just felt like there was so much more you could do with a doggy daycare, so I decided to open my own. I think it is most important to have a personable, friendly, knowledgeable staff so you know your pet is in good hands. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service and building relationships between pet owners and our staff. Also, when you walk into Wag and Brew you can see exactly where your dog is spending their day. We are conscientious about not having too many dogs so each one has enough room to run around.
AEDP: What is the most rewarding aspect of running Wag and Brew?
Jeff: Seeing the business grow is really rewarding. We recently had our biggest day a couple of weekends ago – we had 39 dogs here. The staff and I were so excited because we remember when we would have just 2 or 3 days with us for the day. It’s more work but more rewarding. Knowing that staff are happy to come to work is a good feeling. As an owner of a business, having people that are reliable and believe in the same things as me is all you can ask for. I have learned a lot from the staff in terms of how to best run this business.
AEDP: What is the best piece of professional advice you have received?
Jeff: The best advice I have received is from my dad, who owned his own company before selling it recently. He said to always be honest and be fair. If you are not honest then you cannot be trusted, and the most important thing in business is being trusted. That is something we live by here. If something unexpected happens, we are going to be upfront about it. We know that the owner will be upset that something happened but it is better to be upfront and resolve the issue rather than letting it fester. In terms of being fair, I practice that with my customers and employees. My management style is to focus on the positive and not to come down too hard on anyone. I like to be more motivational.
AEDP: Why did you decide to locate in Alexandria?
Jeff: Alexandria is the number two most dog-populate city (behind Austin, Texas). Add to that the fact that Alexandria is a very friendly city for small business, and it just made sense to locate here. Getting all my permits and opening the business was very easy. Overall, it was just the right place for this business. The West End is growing and changing so much with new housing being built and those people will need a place for their dogs to spend the day. My goal is to make apartment dwellers lives easier because they have a great place to leave their dogs during the day.
For more information about Wag and Brew, please visit their website.