A CANINE pet store has opened its doors in Ellesmere Port.

EP K9 Fertility and Pet Supplies, which specialises in the sale of raw dog food, launched today (March 15) on Whitby Road.

Stephen Carruthers, 30, and his partner Erica Dignam, 33, have set up their new business at the premises formerly occupied by Freebird Tattoo, which has relocated further up the road.

The couple, who have seven children between them, had been travelling more than half an hour away in order to buy raw food for their pet dogs.

Dog breeder Stephen, who has always used raw canine food because of the health benefits, saw a gap in the market locally and began selling products online.

Due to the high demand and lack of storage facilities at home, he and Erica decided to open their own shop which in turn has also spared them regular three-hour round trips to stock up from their supplier.

"We just couldn't keep up with the demand", explained Stephen. "We were constantly back and to to the suppliers. We were delivering and also having collections so it never stopped.

"We quickly went from one chest freezer to four. You'll be surprised how many people in the town feed their dogs raw food but are having to travel to get it.

"There are a lot of health benefits to it. With the ingredients it's literally what it is. Natural feeds is something I'm very passionate about. You want to give them the best."

Erica Dignam and Stephen Carruthers celebrating the opening of their new store EP K9.

Erica Dignam and Stephen Carruthers celebrating the opening of their new store EP K9.

Full-timer carer Erica said the couple have been working night and day for two weeks to get the shop – which offers a delivery and collection service – ready for the opening.

She added: "We weighed up whether we should open a store and we just thought 'let's do it'. It's always been Stephen's dream.

"Every bit of money we've made we've put into this. It feels so good to see the shop open. We've finally had a chance today to stand back and take it in.

"We've not had a minute these past two weeks. We've literally lived here from morning to night with the kids and family helping us."

The store also sells natural dog treats, collars, leads, food bowls and beds.

When Covid-19 restrictions have eased, Stephen plans to expand the business to provide canine fertility and microchipping services.

Erica hopes the couple's new business venture will inspire more people to do the same in order for the town centre to start thriving again.

She said: "We know how difficult it is, particularly as we've not had any financial support or incentive to do this. The town needs more businesses.

"It would be nice to see more people be able to do what we've done. There must be a lot out there with good business ideas – you see so many on Facebook."

  • EP K9 is open from 9am until 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am until 4pm on Sunday. Delivery is free to Ellesmere Port, with a small charge for surrounding areas.