My name is Eddie Santiago, I am co-owner of Mr. Friendly Pet Supply located in Bed-Stuy, New York. I’m originally from Inglewood, California and I have been calling Bed-Stuy my home for the past 10 years. I am an Indigenous American, my family comes from the Zapotec people found in the Oaxaca region of central Mexico.
There are a lot of reasons why my partner and I are choosing to open a brick-and-mortar pet supply store, but a major reason is simply because after working for 10 years I realized we weren’t getting the opportunities, advancement, and recognition in the corporations that we sacrificed so much to work for. These same companies are now falling over themselves to present expressions of support and allyship for BIPOC causes in ads and on social media. I know firsthand from working in senior positions at corporate companies that often there isn’t any real or meaningful sentiment for change behind them, it is always just enough to provide some form of cover and to ride any wave of good will until things return to the status quo.
In 2016 with the election of Donald Trump, I knew I could no longer hide or try and ‘blend in’. My entire family, was branded “not the best people” and “rapists and criminals” by the leader of the free world, any form of assimilation or integration myths I had built in my head were destroyed. I knew I would have to build something of my own in order get the opportunities, advancement, and recognition I had been after for myself, my family, and future generations.
Make no mistake, I know we are just a small pet supply store with a local following, but I will always view Mr. Friendly as a way to say more and do more for our friends, our customers, and our community. I ask you to follow us and keep us accountable.