Dec 7, 2021
Retail shop owner gifts store to long-time employee

Yes, the holiday spirit is alive and well! The owner of Dog Krazy, a Virginia-based business that focuses on natural pet foods, pet accessories and toys, has gifted one of its stores to an employee. Nancy Guinn, the owner who was also featured in a previous issue of Gift Shop Plus, has truly delivered on the spirit of the holiday season by gifting Dog Krazy’s Leesburg store to Cindy Samartino, a long-time employee. We reached out to Guinn to learn more, and what we found may have you in tears for a good reason!

Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg store. Photos by Debbie Eisele.

“We opened the (Leesburg) store three years ago and (we) didn’t factor in the distance it was from our other locations. I am a hands-on owner and I am present in my stores as much as possible,” she said. “The rest of our stores are a few miles apart and we are able to spread out and visit them all frequently.”

Guinn felt the Leesburg store was just not receiving the necessary attention it deserved. So when the pandemic hit and its customers began turning to online stores, Guinn thought it was time to close the store. However, when she made the announcement, customers returned to the store in “full-force,” so she decided to remain open.

“Business picked up a lot, but the distance was still an issue. We told our business mastermind group we were thinking of closing, and another member suggested giving it to someone we love,” she explained.

Photo courtesy of Dog Krazy

Right away, Guinn and her husband knew who deserved the store: Samartino, an employee who moved closer to the Leesburg location to manage it for Guinn. “She has wanted to own a pet store since she was in the fifth grade!” she noted. “I’m tearing up just thinking about how she has been there for us through the ups and the downs. She’s the person I call when I need someone to tell me it’s all ok.”

Samartino, originally a Dog Krazy customer, reached out to Guinn for months, requesting a part-time job. “I had a strict rule of never hiring customers, and I broke the rule for her,” Guinn remembered. And that was many years ago.

“No one has ever given me such a meaningful gift. It’s not just the monetary value, but to know that someone was truly listening to me,” Samartino said. “In this time of job jumping and pensions being a thing of the past, my employers showed me how much they value me. They have taken care of me for the past five years and are taking care of my future.”

Dog Krazy dog collar display

When other staff members learned of this surprise gift, “some cried; some didn’t understand,” Guinn detailed. Some employees had not yet realized that she was gifting Cindy “the store and everything in it.”

This act of kindness stems from Guinn’s own personal experience; an act she said allows her to “pay it forward.”

“Years ago I was going to close my first location when my husband lost his job. A customer came in and handed me an envelope with a check for $5000 in it. She told me to use it to stay open so my husband had time to find a new job. It took me two years to pay her back, but it was because of her that we are still here,” she said. “Since she did that for me, someone she had only known for a short time, I try to pay it forward any chance I get. There is so much negativity in the world these days that I think a little bit of kindness goes a long way.”

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