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    THE HEALTHY ANIMAL, PEMBROKE, MA

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THE HEALTHY ANIMAL, PEMBROKE, MA

A year ago, we introduced you to Diane Dewberry and her amazing shop The Healthy Animal.  We wanted to get Diane’s take on the current climate in the pet retail industry during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as her opinions on the future of the independent pet retailer.  Here, we give you her insights and our original article about Diane which ran in May 2019.

Like all other pet retailers across the country, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Diane Dewberry was grateful that her business remained an essential one. Still, she knew there were going to be changes and some hard decisions to make. At first, it was just curbside pickup, and they took extra precautions.  She also had to layoff a couple of employees and reduce her store hours.  In her shopping center, there are eight establishments, and only three remain open.  “Small businesses are the backbone of our community,” she says. “We are working harder with fewer hours, but I am happy that we remain open and that I am in business.”

Part of this community connection has come from new customers whose orders could not be fulfilled by e-commerce companies like Chewy. These new customers have revitalized the ‘shop local’ movement and have posted great reviews about Diane’s store on social media platforms. Now the curbside pickups are less, and more people are feeling comfortable to venture into the store. She said, “both our new and loyal customers know they can gather here and speak freely. This shared experience has allowed us to embrace our community and each other. This crisis has allowed us to see where we can improve efficiency and excel; to see what is important to our customers and us.” Diane truly believes that the independent pet store will not only survive this crisis but will be stronger for it.

It is not often you stroll into a premium pet store and hear “La donna è mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto sung a cappella by a twenty-five-year-old parrot, but if that store is The Healthy Animal in Pembroke, Massachusetts chances are good that Ollie (the parrot) will offer up an aria.

This wonderous and eclectic establishment is the creation of Diane Dewberry, an entrepreneur who has been in the pet industry for over forty years.  Diane is a true believer in offering pet parents a place “where people can get healthy foods for their pets from people who are knowledgeable…people, and their pets need a healthy alternative to the big box stores.” For Diane, it is all about the customer and meeting their personal needs so they and their pets can enjoy both a holistic and happy lifestyle.

A substantial part of her business model is to help her customers by referring them to local people who are great at what they do: veterinarians, dog walkers, groomers, and trainers.  She advocates that puppy parents begin with great training and excellent food for their new family members as it, “sets them up for success.”  She sees the people who choose to come into her store as ‘superstars’ because they do their research and are committed to feeding their pets the right kind of nutrition.

Diane is discerning about the products she carries, especially kibble. She chose to include D.O.G. products because she welcomed a small company making significant strides to provide premium nutrition for dogs. She appreciates the formulation which includes prebiotics and probiotics to aid in digestive health. She recommends that her customers rotate their dog food seasonally, and D.O.G.’s rotational feeding system offers “great digestibility and an easy way to swap out proteins.”  She believes the line pricing provides terrific value for her customers.

Diane’s philosophy and grateful clientele have brought about the new business venture of franchising The Healthy Animal. Diane has had interested parties up and down the eastern seaboard with her first franchise opening later this month in Beverly, Massachusetts. Just like her four-legged customers, Diane wants her franchisees to begin with a solid foundation – she manages their training, introductions to product representatives, and educates them about pet nutrition.

We highly recommend you visit The Healthy Animal at 808 Washington Street in Pembroke, Massachusetts. Along with Diane and her devoted staff, you will be treated to a fantastic array of products, a multitude of amazing dogs, and of course, a large green parrot who may offer up a song or two. You can also give them a call at (781) 826-9760 or visit them on their website, www.thehealthyanimal.com.

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