HOW THEY MET: Hometown comforts

James and Erin’s engagement at Crocker Park with Riley their rescue dog. Photo by Courtesy

In 2012, 26-year-old Erin Weber joined some friends for a casual night out at Maddie’s Sail Loft. A few drinks in, she complained, more loudly than she had intended, about a bad retro song on the jukebox. Standing within earshot was an amused James McCarthy, who seized the moment and took Erin in his arms for a slow dance. 

“We both went to middle and high school in Marblehead, but we had never met until that night,” Erin said of their spontaneous connection.

The pair began dating and four years later, James surprised Erin on Christmas Day by proposing in Crocker Park.

“I had been working at the aquarium that day, so we weren’t celebrating with our families until the next day,” Erin recalled.

As far as she knew, they were just taking their dog Riley on a walk. She laughed before adding, “What I didn’t realize at the time was that he’d showered, shaved, and put on nice clothes before the walk!”

In August of 2019, when James and Erin learned the owners of the Marblehead-based Creature Comforts were ready to retire and sell the business, they knew they had to jump at the opportunity.

James and Erin.

 “We were both looking for a career change as well as a change from commuting into the city to give us more time to raise a family, and this opportunity presented itself,” Erin recalled.

Her full-time work at the New England Aquarium training seals and sea lions, coupled with working part-time for Creature Comforts, provided the ideal synergy for honoring the company’s more than 20-year tradition of making pet owners’ lives easier. Along with door-to-door daycare, overnight care, walks, and socialization, the business included operating “Pawsitively Marblehead,” the retail arm located at 52 Atlantic Ave. 

“It has been such a fun rollercoaster ride thus far,” Erin said. “Buying a business six months before COVID hit certainly presented its challenges, but we love the excitement of this business. On any given day you may find us working in our retail store, driving a dog bus, walking dogs or pet-sitting cats and other small critters, and even getting creative by participating in community events.”

Erin and James welcomed their son, Everett, in 2021. “Everett loves playing at our store. He’s the official dog-toy squeak tester,” she said. 

Everett testing toys at Pawsitively Marblehead.

Erin and James are thankful to be running a business they love in their hometown. They are thankful to have a dedicated staff who consistently shower the animals with love and care. They are thankful for the tremendous support of their community. 

And, they are thankful for the night they met.

Leslie Martini is a freelance writer and children’s book author. Though she and her family have lived in Marblehead for more than 26 years, Leslie is still discovering countless untold stories. If you’d like to share your story, please contact