by Stacy Conroy
Husband and wife team Geri and Augie Ray have just opened a hip, yet practical pet boutique on Brady Street, contributing to the revitalization of an historic Milwaukee retail district. The couple set out on a mission less than a year ago to start a business — Metropawlis — that would carve its own niche and fill a need as well. Augie has long-time family ties to the Brady Street area since his father grew up in the Italian neighborhood, and he and Geri have lived in nearby downtown Milwaukee for the past eight years. “It was a natural location for us, we recognized, just sitting at the Hi Hat and seeing all the dogs walk by,” Augie noted. “We want to serve basic pet needs, and we’re also offering unique items to let people show their style while shopping for their companion,” he said. Geri has always been an animal lover. She and Augie care for their beloved “Sassy,” a six-year-old American Short Hair who was a stray they adopted. In preparation for their new boutique, over the past year the Rays visited pet boutiques in Chicago and nearby communities, as well as pet supply-related establishments to find what they considered the best of pet-needs items. Much of their unique-to-the-area stock was acquired at the recent annual pet retail trade show in Chicago. Some featured lines include the “Bow Haus,” a tastefully contemporary, yet cozy pet bed and play hut; “Urban Hund” handmade collars and leashes; and “Buddy Belts,” a comfy-looking, humane harness for dogs and cats of all sizes. As a service to the residential area surrounding Brady Street and employees in the retail district, Metropawlis carries a few lines of quality pet food, a selection of natural pet treats, chews, toys, litter, and even first aid kits. “So many people are on foot around here, so if they are out and need basic pet items close by, we want to fill that need,” said Geri. This is the place to visit for holiday gifts for your pet or the pet of someone you know. Sometimes the gift you give the pet of someone you love can mean more than the gift you give to him or her.