“We’re in the business of solving problems and helping people.”
–Frank Papa, Phydeaux pet shop founder and owner

by Jessie Ammons

photograph by Elizabeth Galecke

There was an aha moment about 15 years ago that motivated Frank Papa to leave his former software development job to start the holistic pet shop Phydeaux in Carrboro. He just can’t quite remember what it was. “I had an indoor cat at the time who had inadvertently gotten out,” he says, “somehow she did something that made me land on ‘pet store.’ That’s all I can recall.”

He blames the lost memory on the store’s trajectory since: Within three years, he’d moved Phydeaux to a larger location in Chapel Hill, and then quickly opened Raleigh and Cary outposts, too. “It did take off pretty quickly … I wasn’t aware of how life-altering running my own business would be, how completely all encompassing. It’s pretty much the only thing I’ve done for the past 15 years.”

Not that Papa’s complaining. Phydeaux stands out for its independent ownership, organic pet foods, and product selection. It’s the luxury boutique of pet stores. “As a staff we look at every single product we bring in. We try to find the best that’s available on the market, anywhere in the world.” Papa is mostly self-taught, despite a business undergraduate degree. “I took what I learned there and did the opposite,” he says with a laugh. “I had no experience in retail, and I figured it out as I went.” Luckily, a dedication to “high quality” has paid off.

So has a passion for animal welfare. Phydeaux puts on events with local animal nonprofits most weekends. “We do our best to try to sponsor any and all local rescue groups that we can. That’s always been important to me personally.”

2535 Atlantic Ave.;