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Posted on Tue. Dec. 23, 2003

 


A specialty store for pet lovers
Boutique carries items that are one of a kind

Ghiziana Iosif-Arndt knows a lot about building the brick and mortar part of a business, but she's also had to learn about building a niche in the gift boutique market.

Iosif-Arndt owns One of a Kind Friend, a store for pet lovers, in Overland Park. “We are not a pet store,” Iosif-Arndt said. “But we primarily carry gear for cat and dog lovers to decorate their homes.”

One of a Kind Friend carries decor such as wall hangings, pillows, statues, mugs and jewelry, all with a cat or dog theme. It carries a limited selection of pet accessories, such as custom-made sterling silver collars.

Iosif-Arndt came to Kansas City with her parents from Romania in 1967. She graduated from Westport High School and earned a degree in architectural design from MIT in Boston.

After she and her husband, Richard Arndt, got a puppy more than 20 years ago, she learned she had a gift with animals. After next getting a rottweiler and a dachshund, they founded the Rottweiler Rescue and Dachshund Rescue in the Kansas City area. Although they no longer operate the Rottweiler Rescue, Iosif-Arndt still trains dogs and works with pet owners on behavior modification. They still manage the Dachshund Rescue.

Ten years ago, Iosif-Arndt took a job as a retail cashier. She said she liked the flexibility and working with customers, so she started looking for a retail niche she could fill with a business of her own.

Iosif-Arndt knew firsthand of pet owners' desire to find gifts that represented their dogs' breeds and started making and buying items to sell at dog shows. Three years ago, she opened her shop.

“My husband got tired of walking sideways through the house through all the stuff,” Iosif-Arndt said.

She said one of the most challenging things about retail is knowing what her customers want.

“I buy things for the shop that excite me. The reward is when the customers come in and are amazed by what they find,” Iosif-Arndt said. “When people tell me they have seen something someplace else or have found it on the Internet, I stop carrying it.”

Iosif-Arndt also tries to find representations of hard-to-find breeds as well as popular breeds, which she said right now is the Wheaten Terrier. Items at the shop range from the affordable to up to $200 for a made-to-order wood-burned image of an owner's dog or cat.

Glenda Burns, executive director for the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, said it is Iosif-Arndt's knowledge of animals that makes her shop unique.

“Ghizi has a good representation of many animals that reflect their personalities, and that connection fills the needs of the animal owners,” Burns said.

Iosif-Arndt also offers services for pets, such as nail trimming at no charge, and she has promotions such as pet photos with Santa and the Easter Bunny, which benefit animal shelters and rescues in the area. The shop recently took pet photos with Santa, with proceeds going to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City.


For information

One of a Kind Friend
7210 W. 79th St.
(913) 649-8063 or (816) 726-8087

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