When Andre ‘Junior’ Cleroux says the new Hidden Gem 118 is a family business, he isn’t joking.

His dad, Andre ‘Senior’ Cleroux has been doing a lot of the work on the property located just east of Carnarvon. With a background in organic farming, he has been busy working on the existing manmade pond, taking care of fruit trees, planting gardens, tapping maple trees and beginning to collect honey.

Junior and his brother, Alexandre Cleroux, own Critter Care Brothers. They make a range of raw animal food and kibble, nutritional treats and chews. They can also do meal planning for dietary restrictions and supplemental feeding. Their products are one of the staples in the new enterprise.

And Junior’s mother, Sylvia, is into handmade soaps, bath bombs, candles and other similar products under the label Cleroux Inspired Soaps, as well as freeze-dried foods.

Junior and Senior own the new Highlands enterprise that held a soft opening July 1 and will hold a grand opening Aug. 1.

The family hails from the Ottawa area but Junior plans to relocate permanently. They’re just waiting on a little cash flow from the store so they can build a couple of cabins on the property.

Junior said for them the key in product lines is to stay as natural as possible. So, for example, with the animal feed, Junior said their focus is homeopathic.

“Instead of using commercial brand additives, we do them ourselves. My brother is a butcher and chef and I’m a registered German Shepherd breeder. With the pandemic, animals were the big boom. We thought, ‘it’s time. We put our knowledge together and made an awesome business called Critter Care Brothers.”

Sylvia’s products are also all natural, whether it is soaps, bath bombs, candles or packaged, freeze-dried food “because dehydrated isn’t appealing to the taste and freeze dried also keeps the nutritional value,” Junior said, adding it’s great for camping and outdoor adventures.

He added they are also selling items in less expensive, smaller sizes as opposed to bulk. He said they know there is an older population, many living alone or with just a partner. He said they prefer once a week trips rather than stocking up.

They’ve done much of the work themselves, creating a rustic, cottage feel inside the store.

“We’re doing this for the locals. Obviously, the money is going to be from the tourists but we’re going to be seeing the locals on a regular basis. We want to get to know everybody and it is going to be different if you’re from here or just passing by,” Junior said.

With this being his fourth family business, he said he has been successful because he works for the client.

“My mentality is that I might not make my money today but I will make my money over the lifetime of the business. If I can save the customer money, and perhaps make a little less, but offer an awesome service, I know the client will run back instead of just coming back. Our main focus is to establish ourself in the community. Our quality of service has always been on point. I’ve been in business since I was 19. I’m 32 now. Service is key”