This is the first in a series of occasional stories profiling Edmonds’ many Highway 99 businesses.
By Allision Pascoe
It all started when Craig Weindling needed to find some new toys for his dog. He had exhausted the supply at local pet stores, and began teaming up with friends to purchase toys from catalogs.
“The toys would come to my house. I’d take them to my friends’ houses. The dogs would play with the toys and we would have a visit. It was just a lot of fun,” Weindling said.
Eventually Weindling moved from delivering toys to delivering dog food. He worked to educate himself on the importance of nutritious food, talking to dog food company sales representatives and manufacturers, and conducting his own research on healthy canine food options.
When he started Smiley Dog in 1992 in a spare room of his house, Weindling had spent the past 20 years as a theater stage manager and had no intention of making dog food delivery service a full-time business. “It was just a fun thing to do on the side,” he said. But as delivery requests grew, the business spread to his living room, garage and a couple storage units in his backyard. “It took over my bedroom and then it was time to get a warehouse” Weindling said.
He was faced with a decision: to continue theater work or take on Smiley Dog full time. It was a risky choice and Weindling admits that it was very hard to leave the theater, but notes that his stage management skills come in handy when he is organizing his daily delivery routes from his warehouse, located in Edmonds for the past five years. He spends between two to six hours on the road about five days a week making deliveries, but still manages to find a balance between catching up in the office and driving.
“Our service area radiates out from around Edmonds,” Weindling explained. “We go as far south as Tukwila, as far north as Everett and we stay on the west side of the lake with the exceptions of some parts of Kirkland, Woodinville and Bothell.”
The main focus at Smiley Dog is cat and dog food, but Weindling also makes deliveries for other animals such as horses, chickens, birds, fish and rabbits. And on one occasion, “we have delivered toys to the Seattle Aquarium for their otter,” he said.
The Smiley Dog warehouse has no regular hours where customers can come in and shop the shelves, but every year in December there Weindling hosts an open house called Woof Stock. During Woof Stock, customers can find discounted items, and talk with representatives from local pet-related businesses as well suppliers who come with their new products.
Smiley Dog also sponsors an ongoing food bank that benefits various animal rescue organizations around the area. “We try to partner with as many local groups as we can so we are not just supporting the same group over and over again” Weindling said.
Weindling’s main objective at Smiley Dog is to provide people with useful information on nutritious pet food options with exceptional customer service. While the approach is much more labor intensive, he works to treat everyone as an individual. “It is really gratifying to see what feeding good-quality food will do for people’s pets,” he said.
My Edmonds News intern Allison Pascoe is a Marysville native who will graduate from the University of Washington this June with a degree in Communication and English. Allison’s free time is often spent with friends, playing tennis, soccer or waterskiing.