MARYSVILLE – When Dan and Ray Crisologo realized their retirement funds were running low, they decided to open a business.
At first, Dan wanted to open a chocolate shop, but decided it wasn’t recession-proof.
But he did some research and found that pet ownership went up 40 percent during the last recession. Boomers’ kids are grown, so they are buying pets, and millennials aren’t having kids and getting pets instead, he said.
Since the Snohomish couple and their 12-year-old son love dogs – they have three of their own – they decided to open the new Earthwise Pet Nutrition Center and Wellness Spa in Marysville.
The Crisologos lived in Austin, Texas, before moving north when Dan got a job at Nordstroms in Seattle. Ray was a stay-at-home dad, after working previously in church administration.
Dan wanted a safety net as he had been through layoffs before at AOL and eBay. It was a little scary opening a business so they decided to go the franchise route. They went through 300 hours of training and became experts in pet nutrition.
“I don’t know how people do this on their own,” Ray said. Dan added that’s one of the things that separates them from other pet stores.
“That’s the difference,” he said. “We will do the research. At most stores, it’s a high school student who says, ‘I don’t know.’”
They can look at the skin and coat of an animal and inform customers about the best products. Grocery and Big Box stores mass produce items and sacrifice quality, Dan said.
The couple decided on Marysville for their business venture because of its growth. “People are flocking to Marysville,” Dan said.
Dan and Ray haven’t even officially opened their store yet, and they’re already giving back to the community. They recently gave six life-saving pet packs to the Marysville Fire Department and two to the police department.
The donation, which cost about $5,000, includes pet respirators, each with three masks for different-sized animals. The fire department can use them for pets who inhale smoke. Police can use them for their K-9s.
“We wanted to do something to help pets in need of first aid,” Dan said, adding oxygen can be pumped to the animal by hand or the device can be plugged in.
At Earthwise, they have put a lot of thought into what they sell, so much so that they have become a “showcase” store for the company. They have some “eco-friendly” things in their store that others in the chain don’t. For example, they have tubs where people can wash their pets that recycle water.
They also have a clothing line that uses recycled plastic. Dan hopes to start classes on topics like backpacking with your pet – “like the REI” for pet supplies, he said.
Dan said the company allows them to be flexible. He said he was very involved in the look of the store. “This sparked some creativity” in me that I hadn’t been able to use for a while, he said.
Earthwise helped them find a place and get going, but if their customers don’t like something, “We can sell it off and find what our customers want,” Dan said.
Customers already are helping them with feedback. “We’re more aware. We learn something new every day,” Dan said.
The Crisologos sell natural pet foods, including raw, in all price ranges. The dog treats and chews area looks like a candy store with open bins. They also sell toys, leashes and other supplies. Pets are welcome.
They offer two full-time groomers, home delivery and in-store pickup, along with the dog wash. “Enjoy a nurturing and bonding experience with your furry family member,” their website says, adding they provide everything, including cleanup.
To help educate customers about their products there is a large-screen TV in a waiting area. While they love to talk to people about their products, some people feel more comfortable watching a video about it, Ray said.
“We want it to be a pleasant experience, not just a store,” he said.
Their grand opening is Dec. 7-8 and will include Blitz, the Seattle Seahawks mascot, and the Marysville police K-9 unit.
There will be free nail cutting, food, prizes, a raffle, pet adoptions and a Paws with Cause Painting event that Sunday.
They also plan free Christmas Pet Photos Nov. 30 from 1-4 p.m.
They are open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., closing an hour earlier on Saturdays and open noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.