Gladi Reilly says she has found her “second act” in business — Barktown Willoughby.
Reilly plans to have a soft opening for Barktown July 7 and then a grand opening July 10.
“When I first saw Downtown Willoughby, I thought it was such a cute area,” said Reilly, the owner. “It’s fun to be down here. Over the last few years, my daughters bought places here, so we’ve been getting to be a part of Downtown Willoughby. We’ve met a lot of people and realized what a community it is. This store for me, it’s my second act.”
Reilly’s first act in business started 25 years ago — Viva Spanish. After she started doing after-school Spanish programs, business grew and she started offering Spanish classes to nonpublic schools.
“We started hiring teachers and bringing them into schools,” she said. “In the last 25 years, we have grown to over 70 schools in Ohio. We have 45 to 50 teachers in a year and a curriculum that we have built.”
Glad Reilly, the owner of a new Downtown Willoughby business, Barktown Willoughby, holds dog collars she got from Mexico.
Four years ago, Reilly saw the 4074 Erie St. building that is now Barktown Willoughby for sale and considered moving Viva Spanish to the location.
“We bought the building, and at the time, Traveline was in here,” she said. “Four years later, they’re still here. They finally moved out in May of this year.”
The building on Erie Street was then divided into three businesses — Viva Spanish, Barktown Willoughby and Chelle’s Paw Spa. (Chelle’s is owned by Michelle E Kilker.)
“We don’t need a big office for Viva Spanish because we don’t do classes here, “Reilly said. “We just operate out of here.”
With a goal of contributing to the economy of Downtown Willoughby, business ideas were tossed around before Reilly said her family landed on Barktown Willoughby.
“We have two storefronts, but we have this whole building. We thought, let’s have a dog store on one side, and then we could have grooming on the other side,” she said. “It’s a great marriage because the groomer brings us business, we bring her business, it’s all dog-related. She opened in June, and it’s one dog after another.”
At Gladi Reilly’s new business, Barktown Willoughby, many local vendors are represented.
After Chelle’s Paw Spa was underway, the building was remodeled, Reilly said.
“At that same time, we also have three apartments upstairs. Two of the apartments had already been rented,” she said. “There was one apartment that Traveline used as their board room. When May 1 rolled around, we got that to be an apartment so we could rent that out. Then Viva Spanish moved in May 18. It’s been a whirlwind.”
Reilly said her daughter Maggie who is a software developer, has been key in being the buyer of Barktown’s inventory.
“She really loves dogs and was the one who convinced us to do the store. She came up with the name,” Reilly said. “Hannah, my other daughter — I’m selling Viva Spanish to her. That transaction is complete June 30. I’m not really retiring out of Viva Spanish, but she will be the official owner. July 1 marks her first day as the owner of Viva Spanish and my first day as really the owner of Barktown.”
Reilly wants her customers to be able to come into the store surprised and amused as well as to have fun.
“I want it to be fun,” she said. “When we first came up with the idea, we were like let’s really build a dog community in Downtown Willoughby. There are so many apartments and there are dogs everywhere.”
Gladi Reilly, owner of a new Downtown Willoughby business on Erie Street, Barktown Willoughby, holds one of her four dogs. For Reilly, Barktown is her second act in business, she says.
Barktown offers many humorous products and signs that may surprise customers or make them laugh, Reilly said. Additionally, customers may also find gift sets, bowls and cups, La-Z-Boy couches and loungers, outdoor furniture, clothing for humans that talk about their dog.
“The store is really for dog lovers, people who have dogs, people who have friends with dogs, so I think there will be something for everyone,” she said. “We’ll also have some treats. We’re trying to look for things that are different that you’re not going to see elsewhere.”
Initially, Barktown will be open Wednesdays through Sundays. On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I still have to go around and ask some of the other store owners what’s their best days,” Reilly said. “It’s really a family affair — my husband, Mike, and my daughters Hannah and Maggie. Downtown Willoughby is a lot of individuals who like the area, and want to make it something.”
Originally Appeared Here