Bob Corman’s first job was as a bagger at an Albertson’s grocery store; today, customers may find him bagging healthy pet foods—but now he’s the owner of his own store in Park Hill. In May, the Colorado native and longtime Stapleton resident purchased the neighborhood institution—Ciji’s pet store—from Bonnie Simpson. Simpson, who opened Ciji’s two decades ago when natural pet foods were relatively new, says she only ever considered selling to Bob, convinced of their shared vision.
After working as Purchasing Director for the State of Colorado Department of Transportation for close to a decade, Bob sought a career change—he jokes “In what other job can you spend the day petting dogs?” Though Bob’s previous retail background includes years with some very big names—Albertson’s and Bed Bath & Beyond—he is committed to continuing not only the Ciji’s name but Bonnie’s concept of a small neighborhood store. “Our push is to be more inclusive of Colorado products and thereby support other small businesses,” he says. This commitment to local and small businesses may be a family theme; Bob’s father, Lee Corman, founded Lee’s Appliance in Denver in 1955.
Bonnie Simpson says she knew when she walked into the future home of Ciji’s in Park Hill in 1998 that she had found the perfect space for her innovative natural pet food store. Barred windows and dubious pet food distributors did not dissuade her from her vision of creating a retail outlet devoted exclusively to natural foods for dogs and cats. She felt an immediate connection to the space and loved the Kearney Street neighborhood. The store’s namesake and inspiration was a rescued terrier mix. Ciji embodied the store’s vision, which Bonnie says originated in her question, “How can I keep this dog healthy and alive as long as possible?”
Bonnie realized that the answer lay in good nutrition. By opening a store devoted to promoting pet nutrition, she felt she could help others extend the lives of their four-legged family members as well. Ciji lived to the very respectable age of 19, substantiating Bonnie’s conviction that “good nutrition matters.”
Over the last twenty years, Bonnie and Ciji’s became part of people’s lives and part of multiple generations of family pets’ lives. She shares, with some sadness, “I love this neighborhood. Everyone was so supportive of us.” When she sold the store, she received notes from customers reflecting on her years serving the community and supporting numerous canine and feline rescue groups, including the Colorado Pet Pantry, which helps low-income families feed their pets and keeps animals out of shelters. Bob says he is committed to maintaining the store’s community outreach and philanthropy.
From locally fresh-made pet foods to unique greeting cards and Colorado kitty “pot,” Ciji’s offers a wide array of local and natural products for pets and the people who love them. It is located in Park Hill at 2260 Kearney St. and is open seven days a week.
For more information visit at cijispetsupplies.com or call 303-322-8000.