Friday, April 12, 2024

Wag’n Tails Transitions to New Ownership, With Continued Commitment to Furry Friends

Wag’n Tails new owner Michael O’Bryan stands with store manager Cody Zolla.

Both human and furry customers are a cherished part of the community at Wag’n Tails, the beloved Coronado pet store that opened back in 1999, with original owners Heather and Scott Grimes. In 2005, Melanie Parks took over the reins and has run the business with passion for 19 years. An integral part of the community, she is thankful for all the support throughout the years. When it came time for her to step away, Michael O’Bryan was the perfect next owner, because he was already familiar with the business. A 10-year Navy veteran, who ran NerdzToo, an IT consulting and computer networking company, Michael met Melanie when he changed her POS system more than six years ago. He then transitioned into a business consultant for her about two years ago. “I have always loved the store and enjoyed coming in and getting to know the employees,” he notes.

“My goal is to continue the amazing legacy Melanie established,” he comments, and shares a plan for remodeling that will happen in the next six to eight months, with hopefully no interruptions in service, culminating in a grand reopening in a year. Updates will include bringing more technology into the business, including updating the online store. Deliveries have been on pause but will resume in two weeks now that the delivery vehicle has arrived.  He realizes that this is especially helpful to locals during the busy summer months.  Curbside pick-up is also offered and will be streamlined even more, by knowing the customer’s car and seeing them arrive on the video monitor, so they can get their items quickly and be on their way.

Michael surveyed the community for information and ideas, and conducted extensive research on the pet industry, which grew exponentially during the pandemic, before taking over Wag’n Tails on February 12. He found that 65 to 75 percent of Coronado families own at least one pet.

Currently, the store focuses on a wide array of items for dogs, cats, and small animals, such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and birds. Michael has a 120 gallon freshwater fish display only tank with 25 fish he plans to add in the future, and he will be adding fish products to the store’s offerings. He understands that the store can’t carry everything, so customers can request special items so they don’t have to go out of town or order from other online companies, to get the products they need.

Self-serve dog bath tub

Wag’n Tails staff is known for being good stewards for our furry pet friends by educating customers, carrying quality products, nutritious foods, and offering self-serve bath stations. They are implementing a customer loyalty program which will give two percent back to customers on all product purchases.  The self-service washes are popular, with more than 200 customers a month, and the loyalty program will offer 10 percent off on those. Additional tubs, with multiple sizes, are planned as some of the updates to create a more luxurious experience for both dogs and their owners.

So far, it’s been a smooth transition. “I feel lucky that I have the perfect team to work here,” Michael remarks and offers high praise for store manager Cody Zolla, who grew up here in Coronado, and the other seven employees who are knowledgeable pet enthusiasts and keep things running smoothly.

Leashes and collars in stylish colors and themes, including Coronado themed, are available for fashionable pets.

Popular products include the positively gourmet cookies and Dr. Marty’s nutritionally dense dog food. Customers and their pets often gravitate to the treat bar in the middle of the store, which as Cody puts it is a “dog’s version of a candy bar, with treats in all shapes and sizes and the all-time favorite bacon flavor.” Dogs can walk in style with the many options from the collar and leash wall, which features Coronado, Navy, beach, paisley, coffee and many other themes. Cody highlights the innovative Tall Tails products which are great boredom busters with multiple uses.

Michael’s goal is to maintain exceptional customer experiences. He plans to create a feature wall highlighting a different brand each month, with a rep. coming in to educate customers and offer product samples. Additionally, he will update the interior by painting the walls black to showcase products and enhance the look with blue accents to help the brick pop. Looking further into the future, Michael hopes to offer mobile pet grooming and mobile veterinary services, as well as pet walking and pet sitting options.

As a veteran, Michael says, “Military families are near and dear to my heart,” and he is rekindling his spark to help the military, with an emphasis on catering to their needs. He also wants to carry on Melanie’s tradition of community involvement, with PAWS and other organizations.

With the tagline “Eat, Play, Scrub,” Wag’n Tails welcomes pets and their owners to stop by at 945 Orange Avenue, daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Staff can be reached at 619-435-3513 or visit their website at

Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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