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Business Briefs: SF pet care provider pivots focus

Assistant Editor

Eric Curry visited McLaren Park recently with his dogs Prince and Penny. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Eric Curry visited McLaren Park recently with his dogs Prince and Penny. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

San Francisco native Eric Curry always had a fondness for animals. At age 9 Curry found a cat lying in the middle of the road not far from his parents home and asked his father if he could keep it.

Mistaking the feline for a fur coat, his father said yes, thinking it was a lost garment.

"I knew it was a cat," recalled Curry, 27, who named it Tiny. "Prior to Tiny, I was never allowed to own big pets. We had fish and birds."

Soon he was caring for his own menagerie of pets, including cats, dogs, birds, a chinchilla, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even a quail bought in Chinatown. Caring for his animals led Curry, who is genderqueer, to dream of attending veterinary school at UC Davis. But as he learned more about the stresses of the profession, he changed course and enrolled at UCLA.

"In retrospect, I drove my parents crazy. But it made for really good essays for college," recalled Curry.

His love of animals never subsided, as he recounts in his self-published book "A Real San Francisco Story. With Pets." In need of a job, he ended up launching Eric Curry's Pets, and after two years of college, dropped out to focus on his own pet care business. A year later he enrolled at UC Santa Barbara and graduated in 2016 with a chemistry degree.

All that time he continued to care for people's pets, and when he moved back to San Francisco last year, he relaunched his pet care business. Curry looks after both dogs and cats, offering everything from walking and grooming services to watching people's pets while they are out of town.

Business was booming, and two days after this past Christmas, Curry served his 1,000th unique pet. He was set to sign the lease for a new apartment at the start of this year, then the novel coronavirus outbreak hit. With people ordered to stay home, Curry's customers no longer needed his services.

"My business totally tanked at the end of February for a good two months. All of March and all of April I had nothing, a good deal of May too," said Curry, who ended up moving back home with his parents.

He landed a job at a pet store in Noe Valley in the spring, and by June with shelter-in-place orders eased, his business started to perk back up.

"I was fairly busy on the Fourth of July," he said.

Then came the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by police killings of Black people. With friends, Curry helped launch the nonprofit 4OurKin to assist other local youth of color.

"Our mission statement is we want to provide the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color with the tools that their privileged counterparts get," said Curry, from financial education to tips on how to start your own business. "At the heart of the organization is the belief that we can't create any change without education."

While Curry's paternal family is mostly Irish and settled in San Francisco prior to the 1906 earthquake, his mother is from El Salvador. He is the first in his family to attend college.

"My great-great-grandfather raised 10 kids on Chestnut Street," said Curry, the oldest of four siblings who are fifth generation San Franciscans.

The health crisis also led Curry to once again re-examine his career plans, as he now plans to seek an MBA and become more of a consultant. Continuing to care for the pets of his current clients, he is not taking on anyone new ones at the moment. Instead, he is offering online courses for others who want to go into the pet care business or launch their own web-based enterprise.

"I am always going to be doing pet care really, at the end of the day that is my passion," he said, but because of "these crazy times we are living in, I really learned one of the many definitions of being an entrepreneur is the best business owners are able to adapt to these circumstances."

To Curry, this is the time for people out of a job to launch their own online business. Having gone through the process himself, he wants to impart what he learned to others.

"I see this huge need for people to generate incomes from home. Who knows how long this is going to last or if it will happen again," noted Curry. "Also, I don't think people want to jump back in to going back to work and I think companies know that too. Why should Bezos make all the money online?"

For more information about Curry's business and to order his book, visit https://www.ericcurryspets.com/

Got a tip on LGBT business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com

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