When local residents Bob Poore and his wife, Courtney, started researching what they fed their dogs, they didn’t like what they found.
“We started reading into the food we were feeding our dogs,” Bob Poore said. “It was sort of scary. There are meat byproducts, and [some labels] don’t source what meat it is.”
The couple’s dog had fatty tumors, and their veterinarian said it was a common ailment. So the couple started doing more research.
Now the couple has started the new North Shore business, Nooga Paws, which offers natural pet food and supplies.
It’s like a Greenlife or Whole Foods for pets, he said.
The duo visited other cities and natural pet food stores and wrote a business plan in January.
Courtney got her MBA from UTC in 2009, and the couple enlisted one of her professors to give feedback about their plan.
After encouragement from him, the couple moved forward.
They got funding in April, and construction started in May. Nooga Paws opened Aug. 1.
Even though the recession technically ended in June 2009, and business owners in Chattanooga have reported relatively better conditions in the Gig City in recent years, funding was still a challenge for the Poores.
Some bank leaders told the couple they didn’t fund startups, Bob said.
“We definitely went through a few banks before [landing on] Cohutta,” he said. “There were some times when we had doubt that we could get it because we didn’t have the collateral.”
They settled on a Small Business Administration-backed loan.
Some SBA loans, like the one the Poores got, come with a guarantee, which helps provide a safety net for the bank, because if the loan can’t be paid back, the SBA has to fulfill the promise to pay back 75 or 85 percent, depending on the size of the loan.
If banks are hesitant to lend, the guarantee is helpful, according to Nooga.com archives.
The Poores looked at a couple different locations, such as Main Street, for the store. But the 2 North Shore location made sense.
“This was more of an expensive location, but if people were shopping at Greenlife, they already had nutrition in mind,” Poore said.
Just as the public’s ideas about their own nutrition has evolved, ideas about pet food are evolving, Poore said.
The natural pet products movement is a new trend.
Petco has created a natural food line, and some area residents said that if they aren’t into the natural pet food trend, they would be if they could afford it.
Some also said they make their own natural food, although this article points out that not all foods that are good for humans are good for animals.
Chattanooga resident Nate Gayle said via Facebook that he buys healthy pet food from Smell Good Dog at the Chattanooga Market.
“Our dogs eat better than us at times,” he said.
Natural food, such as products from Nooga Paws, might be a little more expensive, but Poore said consumers don’t pay for filler products that aren’t nutritious and could even be harmful to pets.
And, he argues that-as with humans-healthy food can lead to a decreased number of doctor bills.
“There is a price difference, but the food is more nutrient-dense,” he said. “You’re not paying for a lot of indigestible grains.”