This week we had the chance to interview Kendra Bailey from Health Mutt, an awesome natural pet market and dog wash in Tampa, Florida. Along with Wondercide, Kendra and her team offer loads of healthy products for their customers’ four-legged friends, served with a helping of holistic know-how.
Let’s see what she had to say!
Wondercide: Why did you decide to open Health Mutt?
Kendra: I decided to open Health Mutt because the neighborhood we opened in has so many dogs, and it’s just an awesome community – they really value knowledge! Our customers love and appreciate their pets, and I thought it could be something that benefitted the community, as well as benefitting all of our beloved pets. So, I figured it would be a really great opportunity and a great fit; it was something that just felt right.
Wondercide: That’s great! You talk in your video about taking a natural approach to pet care and making sure everything in your store is really healthy. So, what’s your take on how to care for your pets?
Kendra: We’re definitely about preventative practices. We’d like to prevent issues instead of trying to tackle something once it’s become a huge problem, especially for common ailments we see like cancer. There are so many things that you can do to help prevent illness, such as the right diet and proper exercise. That’s really important to us.
We really take the time to try to learn as much as we can about every product that we bring in. So, whenever customers come in, everything that we have to offer will be a viable solution for their pet. They don’t have to worry that there might be something in there that’s not beneficial to their pets.
Wondercide: That’s definitely one big difference between independent retailers and the big box stores. Maybe there are some things in chain stores that will be right for your pets, but if you go in there without knowing what you’re doing, you can easily come out with something bad for your pets or something that’s soon to be recalled.
Kendra: And then, even if we start to worry about any products, we always let our customers know what’s going on and don’t hide anything that’s happening in the pet industry. Sharing knowledge is super important to us, and we get very positive feedback because we carry such high-quality products. The customers are really happy whenever they see such a positive difference in their pets.
Wondercide: Shared knowledge and nutritious products sound good to us! So, what is your experience with pet nutrition?
Kendra: A lot of our expertise comes from holistic veterinarians’ advice and shared experiences with other like-minded individuals. I also worked at an independent pet store for a few years in college before I opened Health Mutt. We do training for all of our employees on each food that we carry, and as we bring in new items, I’ll always give the staff a rundown on why we brought in that product and why the product is important.
Wondercide: It’s great that your community can rely on you to help get their pets’ nutritional needs met. People often tell me that vets don’t get a full education in nutrition, and a lot of times whatever they are taught is in classes sponsored by a major dog food brand, so it can be skewed.
Kendra: That’s something that we seem to be discussing with our clients every day. Our mission for nutrition has been: where a vet would prefer to give you a prescription diet when there’s already an issue, we would prefer to get your pet on a food that's less processed than kibble – like a raw, canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated diet plus necessary supplements – before all the issues arise. We’re definitely different than the vets.
Wondercide: It’s obvious that you really care about your customers and their pets. How do y’all get involved with your community?
Kendra: Well personally, I run an organization called The Heights Collective. We do a lot of fun stuff, and we’re all about getting people excited to live in The Heights area of Tampa. We do fundraisers and things that bring the community together. Our last fundraiser benefitted displaced employees of a restaurant that had burned down. We raised about $30,000 in four weeks after the fire. So that was really cool, and we have another one planned for the end of March that will benefit Urban Art Attack, who will create unique and captivating wall murals around the neighborhood.
As far as the store goes, we host adoption events and have teamed up with other pet businesses like a low-cost veterinarian, for instance. We also have set up at community markets and done yappy hours with the local bars and restaurants in the past. Last Valentine's Day, we did a "must love dogs" singles night at the store. It was so much fun! We have a mobile vaccination clinic and offer anesthesia-free teeth cleaning as well. We like to offer services community members can utilize, whether people want to get their dog food from us or not.
Wondercide: Those sound like great fundraisers! And it’s wonderful that you’re helping your customers tackle so many different issues. I also know that pests are a huge problem in Florida, so I just wanted to know how you and your customers use Wondercide’s products.
Kendra: We actually use it in the store ourselves. We have grooming, and we also have the dog wash, and there are just so many dogs who come in all the time. I personally use Wondercide flea & tick control on my two dogs as well. I got them off of the oral flea tablets, so I just give them heartworm pills and use Wondercide. It’s extremely effective. I’ve also used your products for wasps and mosquitoes. There’s a lot of other stuff it works on, so people end up using it for more than just fleas and ticks.
I always recommend people get the sample size so they can try it out on their dogs first, and then they can also just keep it handy in their purse to use it as mosquito repellant. That way, people can use it on themselves, and they can also share it with their pets.
Wondercide: Awesome. Our flea & tick product for pets actually has the same formula as our pest repellant for people, so that makes a lot of sense!
Kendra: Wondercide does really well here. We get great feedback and get a lot of repeat clients from it, which is pretty awesome, especially for a flea product! We also recommend the skin tonic when customers are dealing with fleas to relieve their pets’ itchiness, and people like that product, too. We’ve seen great improvements using your skin tonic when pets have had rashes.
Wondercide: That’s great to hear! We’re glad Wondercide’s been a help to your customers. Does any one Wondercide experience your customers have had stand out to you?
Kendra: Well, a man once came in who had struggled for a month with a hot spot on his dog, and had been to the vet numerous times. He got prescribed all sorts of things – he said he had tried everything – and we recommended Wondercide’s skin tonic. He came back into the store 3 days later to let us know the hot spot was almost totally gone!
Wondercide: Hot spots can be awful, so I’m sure he was so relieved! So, what’s your favorite thing about running Health Mutt?
Kendra: Oh my gosh! Well, it’s probably the customers. They’re really awesome people. I feel like we have the best customers ever. We really do. Today we were slammed and understaffed, and it was amazing to see our customers – I mean, they were helping me out left and right. They were incredibly patient with me. This one lady, I caught her mopping up my floor and she said, “Well, my dog made a mess...” – and that just shows you how amazing our customers are.
It’s just crazy. We’ll have people in line, and another person will see that I’m busy, so that customer will say, “Well, I’ll help that person out to their car!” They don’t work at Health Mutt; they’re just nice enough to help someone out with a bag of food. They’re the best people ever. So, I really do think that’s the best part: being able to benefit the community and work with such nice customers.
Wondercide: Do you have any advice for pet owners who want to do the best thing for their pets?
Kendra: You know, any good local independent pet store will most likely be able to get them on the right track and give them the information they need versus trying to sort through and figure everything out yourself. It’s pretty nice to have a safe spot that you can go to and that you can trust. So, I would recommend seeking out one of those places in town.
Wondercide: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Kendra: I guess the only other thing I want to say is that I tried out a bunch of different natural flea products on my dog because I was determined to get them off of the flea tablets, and it was after a lot of searching and a lot of testing and trying that I decided to go with Wondercide because it actually does work. It’s pretty amazing. Now all of our employees use it at home, and our groomer too. You can spray it on your dog and see the fleas completely die almost instantly, so I just want people to know that it really works as claimed – because most natural products are not this effective.
Wondercide: Yeah, and I think people sort of expect that, you know? If they hear natural, some people might worry it’s not effective.
Kendra: Right! A lot of people can’t believe that in Florida, you can completely get rid of your traditional flea treatment and have zero fleas, but that’s exactly what I did. So that’s why I felt so confident bringing it into the store, and that’s why we sell so much, because it really does work.