By Joseph Robertia
When he was a kid, Jody Hoskins became enamored with animals starting with a pair of pet cockatiels. His interest took flight all the way into adulthood.
His affinity for animals and caring for them grew until it was not longer just something he wanted to pursue as a pastime. He wanted it to be full time, to pay for itself and maybe even then some. With seed money he had saved up, he looked around the central Kenai Peninsula until he found a place he could afford and opened Our Best Friends pet shop.
“That was back in ’92, across the street where the small engine repair business is now. It was only a 600-square-foot place, and even though it was mostly just birds and fish at the start, the place was packed. If someone came in a wheelchair, I had to wait on them at the front door,” Hoskins said.
Over the years, the business grew steadily. In 1994 it relocated across Kalifornsky Beach Road to its current location, but even there the business grew to where the building was expanded. It finally reached the point where Hoskins had a new building built right next door, and in 2006 he turned the previous pet shop building into a self pet-wash business.
However, while all of this seemed liked a boon at the time, it may be the very thing that has now caused a bust, as Our Best Friends is preparing to close.
“I think my mistake might have been growing my business too big. It required so many employees, working so many hours to take care of all the animals properly. I thought with enough inventory I could survive anything, but maybe I should have had a little less and paid more to my mortgage and bills,” he said.
And there were a lot of animals. It is one of the things that separated his store from other small pet shops. Not only did Hoskins stock more than just dog and cat supplies, he also carried birds, reptiles, amphibians, rodents and insects.