In its first year of business, the North Shore’s Nooga Paws is doing better than expected.
“Chattanooga is growing really quickly, but we didn’t know if it was ready to sustain something like this, but it has,” one of the owners, Bob Poore, said.
The store is already turning a profit, which is uncommon for such a young business, and now that owners Bob and Courtney Poore have gotten some retail experience, they are looking forward to a solid second year.
-The official one-year celebration event is scheduled for Aug. 17. There will be ice cream, an animal agility course and more.
-The store is located at 313 Manufacturers Road, Suite 111.
“We projected where we would be in our first three years and a five-year goal,” Bob said. “We are at the end of our second year in our sales projections.”
The duo didn’t have retail experience until they opened Nooga Paws. Bob has a master’s degree in engineering, and Courtney has her MBA.
The couple’s dog had fatty tumors, and their veterinarian said it was a common ailment. So the couple started doing more research on what they were feeding the animal.
They didn’t like what they discovered, so they created a store that offers natural pet supplies and food.
In addition to bringing natural, healthier pet food to Chattanooga, they want to educate consumers about what they are feeding their pets.
“And we still try to provide a diet for most levels of income-that was a goal,” Bob said.
And though it might be more investment upfront, Bob said the return on investment is greater. Customers can feed animals less, and the natural food can help cut down on vet bills, he said.
-Nooga Paws also sells art from former North Shore gallery Yada Yada.
-The Poores want to start working more with the community, such as with Wally’s Friends, and working with a new local animal food bank.
-Some of the products sold at the store come with loyalty programs. Customers can use online codes to get free products occasionally.
And some customers have said that the natural diet Nooga Paws employees suggested has made a difference in their animals’ quality of life.
Brielle Jackson has two rescue dogs-Tyson and Rambo-that hadn’t been getting the proper nutrients, she said in a prepared statement. They were underweight, and one had to have its leg amputated because of abuse.
“Bob and his staff recommended both dogs try a raw diet due to the nutritional value,” Jackson said. “[Now,] both Tyson and Rambo are healthy, active and have beautiful, shiny coats and teeth. If it were not for Nooga Paws, I would have never considered all the benefits that a raw diet could possibly include.”
What’s next? Going local
Bob buys some of the store’s products from California, and they have to go through a distributor. But he’s hoping to start cutting that out more and more. He wants to support local business owners and create more locally sourced products.
“As I can find local sources for these products, I’m doing it, and I’m doing it very quickly,” Bob said.
The store now has a collar line that is made in Chattanooga by Just Dog Gone Cute.
Nooga Paws also has two self-service wash stations, according to Nooga.com archives.
It costs $15 for a large dog, which includes shampoo, blow drying, towels and cleaning up after the bath. If the dog is small enough to fit in a bucket the owners have, it costs $10, and there is a multi-dog discount.
But Bob has recently created his own shampoo to use in the washes. It will help offset costs, cutting out the need to order from California and go through a distributor, he said.
“Shampoos at the nucleus aren’t that complex,” he said.
He has worked with a local chemical manufacturing company to create the product.
“I’d love to get down the road and do a bulk dispensary, where you can bring in your own bottle and get one of our shampoos,” he said.
The product he has developed is 90 percent locally sourced, with almost all the ingredients coming either from Chattanooga or South Pittsburg, he said.
The Poores are also currently buying beef and venison marrowbones and chicken necks that animals use for recreation and for diet supplements.
But he’s hoping that will soon change, too.
“I’ve contacted several local farmers, and I’m working on getting those recreational, fatty bones sourced locally,” he said.