O’FALLON – A specialty pet boutique is now opened in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon, and owner Julie Hughes is anxious to give back to her community as a tribute to her late father.
Furchild opened in December of 2018 and offers self washing stations for pets, grooming products and organic food and treats for cats and dogs.
Hughes moved to O’Fallon in 1999 after her dad’s unit was moved from O’Hare Air Reserve Station in Chicago to Scott Air Force Base.
An O’Fallon Township High School graduate of 2008, Hughes went away to college in Colorado and was impressed with the number of self-wash facilities for pets.
“When I was thinking of opening this, that’s where the idea came from. I hadn’t seen anything like that here,” Hughes said.
Furchild, located at 105 East First Street, is an open space with floor to ceiling windows. Hughes said that dogs do well while in the store due to the open, uncluttered space.
Hughes felt a desire to reconnect with her community after her dad, General John Hughes, died in August after a hard fought battle with cancer.
“It was rough,” Hughes said.
“He inspired me to be more connected with the community and I wanted to do it in a way that I liked,” she said. “I’m really big into philanthropy too and doing things for our community and I figured this would be the perfect spot in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon.”
“I wanted to make O’Fallon a little bit more pet friendly and have a place
where people could walk their pets.”
Furchild offers many benefits to the community including discounts for military, educators and city employees.
On Wednesdays, Furchild offers half price services for military and first responders.
There are two packages offered for the pet bathing stations — one is a $15 shampoo and conditioner option and the other is a spa package of $20 that includes additional, luxury spa products with the wash.
There are also heated dryers and fur combs offered, included in the package price.
Hughes said that while it is self- service, she is able to help with pet bathing should anyone need it.
“We hope to offer grooming at some point,” she said. “It’s just not going to happen yet.”
“We also do rescue affiliations,” she said. “We are constantly collecting things for shelters in the area.”
Hughes said that she would encourage O’Fallon residents to bring in collars and pet toys if they are in good condition for 10 percent off an order.
While she doesn’t have a background in entrepreneurship or sales, Hughes said that she has always been obsessed with animals.
“It was a natural fit,” she said.
Hughes said that she knew she had to move forward with her business after she saw the space available for rent on First Street.
“It was probably 90 days from when I signed a lease,” she said. “It’s been a seamless process because of all of the help we have had. Everyone has been phenomenal to work with.”
Hughes is now a member of the O’Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and has already experienced the benefits of being a downtown business.
“It has been nothing short of what I expected and anticipated, which was that people would be really happy about us being here and supporting local business.”
Hughes said that Furchild offers services that cannot be found elsewhere, especially larger businesses that provide pet care.
“I like to follow up with people personally,” she said. “It’s not something I feel forced to do by any means but it’s natural for me.”
“When you shop local, you are supporting someone in the community that is able to give back.”
Hughes said that her goal for Furchild is to become a solid part of the community and to be a “link in the chain of O’Fallon.”