‘Pickles’ is Siskiyou’s newest place to find a friend

Danielle Jester
Pickles’ Critters Small Town Pets carries bearded dragons, like this one, as well as a selection of other animals and pet supplies.

With the Aug. 27 opening of Pickles’ Critters Small Town Pets, Yreka is once again home to a pet store, for the first time in at least a decade. Husband and wife team Elisha and Mike Wooden operate the store with the help of three of their daughters.

The Woodens moved to Siskiyou County two years ago from Montgomery Creek – near Burney – after one of their daughters decided to attend College of the Siskiyous.

In June, the family began work on transforming the space at 115 S. Oregon Street into Pickles’ Critters. “I’ve wanted to open a pet store for as long as I can remember,” Elisha said. The Woodens, three of their daughters and some of the family’s friends did all the work themselves, which included painting, installing shelving and building stands for aquariums.

The shop has a room dedicated entirely to fish, with a wall of aquariums on stands that locals Rusty Bigler and Chuck Mikulus helped build. When the Yreka Walmart shut down its fish department, Elisha said, a lot of people began asking if Pickles’ Critters would offer fish. In addition to some exotic options, the store also carries feeder fish.

Elisha said that one of her goals over the next year is to expand to offer pond supplies and koi. “You’d be surprised at the number of people living in Yreka who have ponds in their yards,” she said.

Pickles’ Critters can save Siskiyou County residents a trip to Oregon or elsewhere for a variety of pets, as well as feeders for those pets. In addition to the feeder fish, the shop carries crickets and baby mice to feed various reptiles.

The critters currently on offer at the shop include chameleons, bearded dragons, parakeets, finches, Russian dwarf hamsters and guinea pigs. Pickles – the pet store’s tortoise mascot that inspired the business name – is not for sale, but Elisha said she is working on bringing in other tortoises.

“My focus is finding private breeders,” Elisha explained when asked where the store sources its pets. Animals that come from private breeders are healthier and not mass produced, she said, and it’s also a chance to support the local community. Elisha related that while she sometimes has to purchase from wholesalers, she tracks down private breeders whenever possible. She’s also found local residents who make dog toys and dog treats.

If customers can’t find the pet they’re looking for in the store, Elisha said she’s happy to order it for them. “A little kid came in yesterday with a list of fish he wants,” Mike noted.

Seeing how excited kids get when they’re around the animals is one of her favorite aspects of running the store so far, Elisha shared. Meeting new customers and getting to visit with people is great, she said, as well as watching people’s reactions to the various critters.

A group of preschoolers accompanied by their teacher stops by the store often, she said. The teachers have related that after seeing Pickles eat his vegetables, the kids have become better at eating their own.

Pickles’ Critters is a good family venue, Elisha said. Between herself and Mike and their three daughters running the store, and parents and children coming in to look at pets, the store has a friendly feel to it.

Pickles’ Critters and Small Town Pets is located at 115 S. Oregon Street in Yreka and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays and Mondays.