Independent Pet Food Stores are nothing like the big box stores. TruthaboutPetFood.com recently began adding listings of Independent Pet Food Stores to provide pet owners a valuable resource to finding safe and healthy pet foods. I wanted pet owners to sort of ‘meet’ these people, the store owners, to show you how important these pet loving businesses can be a trusted friend in protecting your pet. Meet Jodi Etienne of Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bow-tique.
Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bow-tique is located in Kankakee, IL. The brief description of their business states: “Pamper your pet naturally at Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bow-tique! Razzle Dazzle carries all natural pet foods including raw frozen, freeze dried, dehydrated, canned, and dry kibble diets. We offer a full service grooming salon that uses natural shampoos. We feature eco friendly and non toxic toys, collars, and leashes. We offer a wide array of natural treats and supplements.With a name like Razzle Dazzle, of course, we also carry a bit of bling so you best friend can step out in style. Chiropractic care is available by appointment.”
And now for the tough questions…I’ve sent all of the Independent Pet Food Store Owners a list of questions; each will be asked the same. I’m sure you’ll see very quickly, by their answers, the benefits of purchasing your pet foods from these business owners. Seriously, do you think the college students at the big pet store chains or the big retail chains know this much about pet food?
How/why did you open a pet food store? (Is there a personal story of a pet food harming one of your own pets?…Motivations of you starting this business?)
I opened the store in 2005 due to a medical condition that my 8 year old shih tzu had been diagnosed with. A regular vet had prescribed a prescription diet for him that he needed to be on “for the rest of his life” or he would need surgery for bladder stones. I hated the ingredients in the food and Ripper refused to eat it after about a week. Smart dog! We sought the help of a holistic vet and started him on the raw diet. I had to make my own food or travel about 45 minutes to buy his food. It made sense to me to open a store to help other pet owners in my area who were concerned about their pet’s health. BTW Ripper is now 13 and has had no further problems with his bladder. He loves his raw food!
What do you see as the difference between your store and a Big Box Pet Store? What advantages to you provide to Pet Owners?
The difference between “us” and “them” is that here you will get personal attention. We get to know the pets and their owners. We care if a food is working or is not for your pet. I research all the foods that I carry and keep up on the latest news about pet foods. We carry foods made by companies that stand behind their ingredients and their products.
What are some of the frustrations you have about the (mis)information your customers have been exposed to about pet food and nutrition?
Most pet owners are like I used to be. They really don’t know what they are actually feeding their pet until they run into some kind of health issue. They don’t have time to read labels or even realize that you should care about what’s in the bag. The glossy ads and fancy commercials on TV convince the general public that dog food that comes in a bag can do wonderful things for their pets (as seen on TV). Then they wonder why their pet smells awful, has dry skin, bad teeth, or an underlying serious health issue. A lot of veterinarians in our area are not proactive enough to see that better nutrition means better health. People value the opinion of their vet. If the vets don’t see over-processed rendered food as a potential roadblock to good health, then how will the average pet owner know that their dogs are what they eat?
How much of your job is nutritional education and counseling? Do you offer seminars or other continuing education opportunities through your store?
We offer nutritional education to all our customers on an as needed basis. I am always willing to talk food with the customers. We have helped organize a pet wellness fair for our community that we hope to continue each year. We work closely with a holistic vet, Dr. Karen Becker DVM NMD to help educate our community in the area of pet health.
Do you have some success stories to share about how good nutrition has helped customers to eliminate health problems?
I have many customers who have had great experiences by putting their pet on better foods. One customer with a 14 year old dalmation in renal failure was able to give her dog two more good years by researching better foods to support kidney function. We have one dog who is on raw food that is a three year cancer survivor. I just adopted a puppy mill survivor who had major hair loss-bacterial and yeast infections of the skin and ears. He’s now on raw and has a beautiful soft coat and clean ears. There are so many good stories! Lots of allergy dogs…you name it.
How did you choose your foods, or what defines foods that you will agree to carry, and what makes you decide against a certain food? Would you be willing to eliminate a certain popular food if something changed about it that you didn’t like? What sort of thing would that be that would make you do this? How would you handle it with your customers?
I value opinions of the Whole Dog Journal and newsletters such as this one that take the time to get in depth with the producers of pet foods. Ideally, I would like to see all dogs on a raw diet, but I know there are lots of reasons why pet owners can not provide this for their pet. I like to have the next best thing available if you can’t go that route.
Have any of your foods been affected by a recall? Of so, how did you handle it?
There was a limited production recall on a Nature’s Variety product that we were notified of by the company and gave customers full refunds. The distributor notified us and exchanged possibly affected bags for some that were unaffected. A couple of years ago Timberwolf had a recall that in my opinion was handled poorly by the company. Our customers who had the product received refunds but a few had pets that had vomiting and diarrhea. The distributor gave refunds to us after we had made several complaints. Timberwolf was not easy to deal with and I will only special order their products for customers that request it. I can not recommend it if the company will not stand behind the product.
How do you go about choosing and training your employees?
We are a small business. I am the owner and main person here at the store. A local dog trainer and pet sitter fill in for me when I am unable to be here. Both ladies feed their pets foods we carry and have spent the time to learn all they can about pet nutrition. The trainer educates her training classes in the area of nutrition by teaching the clients how to read the pet food labels. We have two groomers that also feed their pets products that we carry. They recommend foods and supplements to the grooming customers to help with skin and coat.
How do you stay educated about food and news in the industry, and what are some of the challenges to this?
I stay updated by doing research on the internet, keeping up on the reading about pet products, and attending seminars about pet health and nutrition. The biggest challenge to me is having the time to do everything I want to.
Why should a pet owner purchase their products from your store? (Anything other that above.)
Not only will you get personal attention from us and find the best food for your pet, you will also get to see our adorably cute store mascots, Razzle Dazzle, Ripper, and Riot. Three shih tzus that make sure that you enjoy your shopping experience.
Did I miss anything?
Visit our website at www.razzledazzledog.net to learn more about us.
You’ll meet more Independent Pet Food Store Owners each week; please support these businesses.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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