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Pets’ Happy Place

A local pet boutique offering superior products and experiences

Article by Shannon Barghols

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Step through the doors of Elysiem on Fairmont Avenue in Bethesda, and you will quickly discover that you are in no ordinary boutique. Your eyes will quickly devour the trendy and unique styles. You’ll find high-quality items as well as an attentive and knowledgeable staff. Oh, and you’ll find that it’s a boutique devoted to pets. 

Luxury. That’s what owner John T. McNeal had in mind when he opened Elysiem in the fall of 2017. Having served as an officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years, John is focused and driven. He used those same traits to explore owning his own business. He developed the idea of Elysiem after poring over the business plans for luxury products, contemplating how to create an immersive experience, and extensively researching the pet industry. 

What do we know about pets? Well, more than 67% of American households own at least one pet. About 12% of adults with kids younger than 18 adopted pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. 40% of dog owners and 25% of cat owners bought clothing for their pet in 2020. And more than 50% of both cat and dog owners give their pet a Christmas gift or treat. So, ultimately, we know that pet parents love their furry friends. The largest expression of that love is maintaining their pet's health and wellness.

One research point that resonated with John is that quality is what matters most to pet parents. As such, the products Elysiem carries are sourced specifically with that in mind. Here you’ll find a specialty pet boutique that offers premium-quality all-natural foods not available in big box retailers. Food lines for dogs are offered by Acana, Annamaet, Fromm, Orijen, Stella & Chewy’s Essentials, Honest Kitchen, Verus and Zignature. For cats, the food lines featured are from Acana, Annamaet, Orijen, Stella & Chewy’s Essentials and Verus. 

John has also determined that wellness goes hand in hand with pet health, and thus has made wellness be the focus of Elysiem’s salon services. The by-appointment-only services include light and full-service grooming. And don’t worry, your precious pets are not caged while they wait for their salon appointment!  

Adding to the Elysiem experience, John puts on a variety of events and activities:

Yappy Hour - John brings Elysiem to you! This pop-up shop version of Elysiem comes complete with treats for pets and pet owners, as well as a little Greek wine for owners. It’s a great opportunity to socialize with your building's neighbors while shopping a curated selection of John’s favorite items.

Paint Your Pooch Face - It’s the perfect opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art featuring your dog. Check the schedule for monthly classes, which are held in the store after hours.  

Toys for Fosters - Elysiem has partnered with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue to provide toys and treats for dogs in foster care. In its fifth year, the annual event has been a crucial in helping foster homes provide critical support to animals waiting to be adopted. 

Youth Prodigy Program - Elysiem offers high school students the opportunity to learn about business through this program. In addition to the ins and outs of running a retail store, students learn about interacting with customers, and take a dive into community service. 

The success of Elysiem in Bethesda prompted John to open a second store in Park Potomac. In the recently opened shop, you’ll find the same great food products, trendy and innovative designs, and a superior salon experience. 

To learn more, to shop, to order free local delivery, or to make a salon appointment, visit:

Holiday shopping for your furry friends is easy with the help of Elysiem. At both the Fairmont Avenue and Park Potomac locations, you’ll find trendy and innovative gifts curated just for your pets. Don’t forget: free local delivery is available. Here are some of John’s favorite items for this holiday season: 

  • Canada Pooch - Wellies Boots, Starting at $22
  • Chilly Dog - Boyfriend Sweater,  Starting at $30
  • Canada Pooch - Alaskan Army Parka, Starting at $50
  • From $45 to $69
  • Hartman & Rose - Frog Collar, From $45 to $69
  • Hartman & Rose - Athena Lead Navy, From $45 to $69
  • Hartman & Rose - Athena Collar Navy, From $45 to $69
  • Fluff & Tuff - Big Daddy Gator Toy, Starting at $20
  • Zogoflex Dog Toys – Starting at $12