Carrie Owen : Retail at Christmas

As Christmas fast approaches, shopping centres across the county are busy with frantic shoppers searching for last minute gifts.

But while you are out in town, do you ever spare a thought for the retailer workers who are working round the clock?

Carrie Owen, a Digs for Dogs franchisee in Stockport and Altrincham worked in retail for 17 years, before realising that there had to be a better way to enjoy this time of year:


“I worked for Tesco for 17 years, starting as a Christmas temp and making my way through the ranks, eventually being promoted to Senior Night Manager.

From mid-November, it was crazy. On a good day, I’d work a 12-hour shift, but more often was shifts of up to 15 hours.

While the run up to Christmas is hectic for everyone, it’s exhausting for anyone working in retail. After spending all day getting all of your customer’s Christmas shopping sorted, there’s no time – or energy- left to do your own. Putting up the tree was a rushed job, and it’s a military operation to get time off to attend carol services, pantos and Nativity plays.

I’d be off on Christmas Day, but I’d barely register it, completely shattered from working late on Christmas Eve to set up for the Boxing Day sales – another early start.

The festive season passed me by for 17 years and something had to give.

I was made redundant and while deciding what to do next, I happened to see a leaflet advertising Digs for Dogs franchises –  and it was a Eureka moment. As a life long dog lover, my shifts had meant I couldn’t have my own dog – but now I was a being given the opportunity to work with them all day long – as well as being my own boss!

I started out as a host and then took a dog walking and its grown from there. My son-in-law now works for me, along with my step-daughter in the holidays. The support from head office has been incredible and I’ve made lots of new friends.

What’s more, I’ve made a great success of my business. My walking franchise has grown way beyond my projection and is 25% up this year, and my home boarding side is up by £5,000 on last year. That’s serious money and its great to know that when I retire, I’ll be able to sell a profitable business.

The flexibility and change in lifestyle is amazing. For the first time, I have a weekends off, and I’m home every night at a decent hour. Christmas Eve is a very different affair now. After a brisk walk, it’s all about family time – PJs, hot chocolate and films, ahead of a relaxing Christmas day.

Being made redundant was incredibly stressful – but it turned out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, thanks to my new career with Digs for Dogs.”

Next: Preparing your Pet for the Christmas Celebrations