Six and a half years ago, Pennye Jones-Napier was just another pet lover trying to care for her animals.
“We had a dog that was sick and when we tried to feed it, well, we found it really difficult to do,” she said.
Her difficulty finding quality pet food inspired Jones-Napier to open an eco-friendly pet supply store with business partner Julie Paez in Old Takoma, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
On Aug. 9, Jones-Napier huffed and puffed and opened up a second storefront of the business, The Big Bad Woof.
Nestled between what will be Spice 6 Modern Indian restaurant and Yogi Castle at Arts District Hyattsville, The Big Bad Woof is anything but inconspicuous. The walls of the store are just as bright red as the fire hydrant “Open” sign on the sidewalk out front.
A bathtub full of rainbow colored chew toys, rows of shelving, and a wall lined with refrigerated containers of raw pet food all contribute to the space’s urban décor.
The Big Bad Woof sells organic, fair-trade products for dogs, cats and other small mammals. To Jones-Napier, the shop is “not just a pet store, but a resource” for pet wellness.
“People can come here and ask questions, and can expect to get intelligent answers,” she said.
The Big Bad Woof is in the process of franchising, and the Hyattsville store, from its environmentally friendly build-out to its products, is the prototype for future stores. Jones-Napier has also sold products to customers across the country through the business website.
Although organic products tend to be more expensive, first-time buyer Emma Calderon of Hyattsville said the store’s bark—and bite—is not as bad as she anticipated.
“[The prices] were actually comfortable,” she said as she left the store with a new carrier and toy for her Shih Tzu.
Jones-Napier knows the prices of higher-quality products may scare some customers off, but it doesn’t worry her.
“If you know you have a really good business, people respond to that,” she said. “People want to take care of their children, and they want to take care of their pets. We are filling a niche in this community.”