I just finished up an interview with Mark Boonnark, one of the owners of the three-store Healthy Spot chain, based in the Los Angeles area, and I’ve got to say, I came away quite impressed with what he and partner Andrew Kim are doing out there in SoCal.
Despite opening the doors to their first location right as the economy was beginning to tank in 2008, Healthy Spot has been one of the pet industry’s great success stories over the past five years. This has largely been a product of Boonnark and Kim’s approach to pet specialty retailing. With the goal of being the “Wholefoods of the pet specialty channel,” from the beginning, the owners of Healthy Spot have focused on providing healthy higher-end products—which cannot be found in their big-box competitors stores—in a well-designed store environment that is inviting, clean and features a polished merchandising scheme. These efforts have gone a long way in creating a distinctive brand for Healthy Spot.
What’s also impressive is that Boonnark and Kim—who, by the way, had no pet retailing experience before 2008—wisely identified pet-related services as not only potential profit centers, but also as a way to literally add life to their stores. According to Boonnark, the strategy has paid off on both fronts, and that isn’t surprising. Pet retailers should never underestimate how the traditionally high-margins of service offerings can impact their bottom line—especially in light of the squeeze of food price increases over the past few years—or how having animals in the store can be great theater and a real draw for shoppers.
Kudos to Boonnark and Kim on their success—it has been well earned. I invite all of our readers to learn more about Healthy Spot in the February issue of Pet Business, where we will take an in-depth look at how several different chains of various sizes have been able to not only survive but thrive in a bad economy.