CLE Pets owner Kurt Henschel owes his love of pets to his parents. Growing up in Lyndhurst with three siblings, the family always had a dog. Daisy, a beagle-mix puppy, joined the family when Henschel was a little kid.
"We kind of aged together," Henschel recalls of Daisy. "Even in that small house, [my parents] had it in their heart to have a dog on top of all those kids."
The Orange Village resident continued the tradition when he started his own family. There was Max, the pug mix who liked to watch TV with the family, and Licorice, an affectionate miniature poodle who lived to be 18.
Over the last few years while visiting downtown Cleveland law offices for his job as a freelance legal videographer, Henschel noticed more people walking their dogs. "I'm such a dog and animal lover anyway," he says. "I thought this would really be great if I could get something small going down here just to service all the residents."
Like his childhood home, Henschel's small 5th Street Arcades pet store feels full of heart. The 250-square-foot space is packed with Cleveland sports team-themed dog beds ($39.99), liver dog biscuits ($7.50) and dog and cat toys such as a squeaky Kong plush ($12.99) and a rope in the shape of a Cuban cigar ($9.99).
But Henschel focuses on all-natural dog and cat food made by Ohio Pet Foods, a family-owned company in Lisbon, Ohio. Look for kitten, adult and lean cat food ($2 to $2.50 a pound) and seven varieties for dogs, including recipes for puppies and older dogs ($1.75 to $2.65 a pound). The food contains no corn, wheat or soy, common ingredients in cheaper foods and possible allergen triggers for pets.
Henschel brings his 1 1/2-year-old black miniature poodle Vito to the store and encourages customers to do the same with their cuddly companions. "It's all about having fun with your pet and bringing them out every chance you can," he says.
When You Go: CLE Pets 530 Euclid Ave., Suite 23-1, Cleveland, 216-905-6789, clepets.com
Nearby Find: Scoop up Cleveland-themed T-shirts, including one featuring the leg lamp from A Christmas Story wearing Cleveland Browns uniform pants at We Bleed Ohio. 530 Euclid Ave., Suite 31, Cleveland, 440-941-1178, webleedohio.com
Keep your feline friend busy with a handmade body pillow ($4.50) from Artzy Fartzy Inspirations. Stuffed with organic catnip, the fabric pillows come in patterns such as motorcycles, cat breeds or flowery prints. "A lot of cats are apparently cuddlers," Kurt Henschel says. "They're all crazy on the catnip, and they hug these things."