Morgan Hubbard’s life is perfectly orchestrated by a master conductor, Hubbard herself, who is a natural at recognizing and taking advantage of life’s serendipitous opportunities.
By day, Hubbard oversees Top Drawer Consignment in Granby Center, the business that she bought two years ago from her soon-to-be mother-in-law Sally Mullins after working there for more than a decade.
By night and on weekends, Hubbard breeds, trains, and shows champion Australian shepherds, two of whom, Demi, 6, and her daughter Rumor, 2, accompany Hubbard to work at the shop. Her two males, Titan, 9, and Kane, 5, prefer to spend their days at home in West Suffield. All four Aussies are American Kennel Club champions. Demi and Titan are Australian Shepherd Club of America grand champions.
How this all came about and how Hubbard juggles her two worlds is largely a tale of answering the door when opportunity knocks.
“My ex-step mom bred Aussies for many years, and I started going to dog shows with her,” Hubbard explains, “We had the dogs at home with us, and I learned about breeding, training and showing them from her.”
A graduate of Suffield High School’s Future Farmers of America program, Hubbard has always wanted to work with animals. After a year studying business at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, she decided the classroom was not for her and left to work as a receptionist at Southwick Animal Hospital, where her clear enthusiasm for and love of animals led to her being trained as a veterinary technician.
“At the same time, I was at Top Drawer part-time because I was dating Sally’s son Tyler, and Sally needed weekend help,” Hubbard says, explaining that Mullins started the business in the space above Small World Learning and Child Care Center, moving the short distance to the present location at 15 Hartford Avenue in 2010 and eventually buying the well-maintained house built in 1914.
“My mother always had a passion for consignment, and Morgan has it, too,” says Mullins’ daughter Jen Riggott. “I worked here full-time as Mom’s assistant, but I left when I was pregnant with my daughter Sophie. Mom loved living in Granby and wanted her shop to support the Granby community.”
After Sophie was born, Riggott was not ready to return to work, so when Mullins decided to retire to Florida, she offered to sell the business to Hubbard. The rest is history. When she is away showing her own and her clients’ Aussies on weekends, Hubbard’s competent staff runs the shop. Riggott has returned as manager; Stacy Brunelle oversees social media; and Chelsea Wolf, Diana Bleimeyer and Holly Fisher share sales associate responsibilities.
What’s more, Sophie, now 10, enjoys helping at the shop that her grandmother opened 25 years ago.
Asked what her typical day looks like, Hubbard flashes her happy grin. “I get up at 6:30, feed the animals, try to fit in riding the exercise bike, make breakfast and come here to clean and prep the shop before the door opens at 10 a.m.,” she says. With consignments arriving every Tuesday through Friday, Hubbard frequently changes displays to showcase new items. “We have customers who shop here three or four times a week, and we want to keep things looking fresh and interesting,” she says.
Typically, Hubbard can be found at the shop on weekdays, except Mondays when Top Drawer is closed. “Weekends are for showing dogs,” she says, beaming. “Last weekend I showed nine dogs in Greenwich, N.Y. Two of them were mine. You do not win money in dog shows, you win points that get you bragging rights, which makes it easier to sell the puppies you breed.”
Not every Aussie puppy is born a champion. But that doesn’t mean that Aussies are not wonderful pets. “Australian shepherds are very loyal, very sweet and affectionate, and they have nice ‘on/off’ switches,” Hubbard says. “They’ll go hiking or swimming with Tyler and me, but then they’re perfectly happy to relax with us while we watch TV at night.”
To demonstrate the truth of her owner’s words, Demi prances out from behind the counter just as a little boy enters the shop with his mother. With Hubbard’s permission to pet her, the excited boy enjoys stroking Demi’s soft fur while she shows her appreciation with a gentle nuzzle.
“There are a lot of kids that know Demi is back there and come into the shop just to see her,” Hubbard says.
The best of both worlds, indeed.