Six years ago, Wookie - an 8 month old shaggy stray - became part of Maricela Martinez’s family. Maricela rescued Wookie from the streets of the Southside, and she became smitten with her new family member within days. She wanted only the best for Wookie, and she did a lot of research on pet products, especially on dog food.
She quickly learned that not all dog food is equal. She educated herself about what nutrients were essential for a dog’s well-being and what ingredients weren’t so good, she says. And she spent hours perusing pet food nutrition labels, identifying those to consider. Much to her surprise, some of the most well-known and widely available brands ended up at the very bottom of her list. And much to her disappointment, many of the brands at the top of her list were no where to be found in San Antonio.
Marciela says that her research went beyond food. She spent a lot of time looking for the most durable leashes and harnesses, the safest and most engaging dog toys, and so on. And once again, she discovered that the ones she wanted often weren’t available here in San Antonio.
Maricela told me she was out-growing her space at the Cadillac Loft building. “I’ve been wanting to add grooming services to my offerings, and I just didn’t have the room to do so in that location.” She’s in the process of fitting out a niche grooming room in the space, and she plans to start offering grooming services in a month or two.
“Business has been good” Maricela explains. “I have a loyal following of customers who frequented the downtown shop, many of whom are from areas outside of San Antonio. I’ve got several regular customers from Austin who periodically come down to the shop to stock up, because they can’t get the brands I carry in Austin. Many of the products we offer are not available anywhere else in San Antonio or in Austin.” And the foot traffic has been good. “I think people in this neighborhood have been waiting for a shop like this to open!”
I think Maricela is right. We are a pet-loving community in a great walkable neighborhood. It’s only fitting that we’ve got a spot, right here, that provides such great options for spoiling our four-legged family members. Next time you are out and about in the neighborhood, go check it out. The Waggery is open Tuesdays through Fridys, from 11 AM to 6 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM - 4 PM.
It didn’t take long for Maricela to do something about that. In 2018 she opened The Waggery in the Cadillac Loft Building in downtown. The Waggery’s mission, Maricela says, has always been to offer only the best quality products. She says that her research on pet nutrition and pet products is on-going, and that she faithfully stocks the Waggery shelves with only high quality, safe, and durable products.
Maricela tells me “I believe in quality over quantity. We are not about having ‘the most’ options. We’re about having ‘the right’ options.” So unlike the big pet box-stores, she says, you won’t find dozens of brands of dog food or 30 different leashes to choose from. You’ll find products that - after extensive, thoughtful research - meet the quality standards that she insists on.
When Maricela first opened The Waggery, it wasn’t exactly what she had been planning. She grew up on the south side of downtown with strong ties to the Lavaca / King William neighborhood. She knew it was a pet-friendly area, and her dream was to open her pet shop here. As a first time business owner, it wasn’t easy to find an available location with a property owner who was willing to take a chance on her. That wasn’t the case with the Cadillac Loft building, and Maricela felt it was a good second choice. Right in the heart of downtown, it was across the street from a dog park.
Four years later, however, now with a successful, established business under her belt, Maricela says, she was able to move to our neighborhood. She opened shop at 1112 S St. Mary’s in December of last year. “This is where I always wanted to be” Maricela tells me. “It’s come full-circle.” The entrance to The Waggery is from the parking lot that runs between S St. Mary’s and S Presa streets, nestled between Southtown Vinyl and Kulture Kafé.
The space is large, bright, and inviting, with shelves stocked with a treasure trove of pet-lover products… a few brands of food (in dry, freeze-dried, air-dried, and raw forms), collars, harnesses, leashes, plush toys, squeaky toys, interactive toys, shampoos, pet shirts, bandanas, and more.
The Waggery even offers custom, made-to-order baked goods. Order custom cookies, cookie cakes, and pupcakes to celebrate the fur-baby in your life!
Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.