A specialty niche is born out of a passion for a product.
Tracey Rentcome knows raw food. She can talk at length about its physical and mental health benefits for pets. Her own animals eat a raw diet. This passion and expertise have helped make her store, Bones2Go, the largest supplier of raw pet food in Houston, TX.
THE IDEA Believe In, Specialize In
Rentcome grew up in the U.K., but moved to the U.S. in 1987. Feeding pets a raw-based diet was common in her home country. Here, she found formulated dry food to be the norm.
“Better feeding through science was the idea,” Rentcome says. “So I gave my dogs kibble.”
It wasn’t long before she questioned its quality, though, as her pups were not thriving on the dry products available at that time.
In 1998, Rentcome switched to homemade food with human-grade ingredients and saw health improvements, but it wasn’t until 1999, when reading Ian Billinghurst’s Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life, that she found the optimal diet for her pets.
“I switched to raw and never looked back.”
When a prepared product became available in the Houston area, she began feeding it to her dogs and eventually selling it to others. Raw-food specialty store Bones2Go opened in 2003.
“I wanted to educate others about raw food and see it become mainstream.”
THE EXECUTION Start Small, Go Big
The first Bones2Go store measured 1,500 square feet and had 12 freezers. Rentcome acted as a mentor to customers. She took the time to educate and support newcomers to feeding raw, even making herself available by phone when the store was closed.
“My goal was to treat every customer how I would want to be treated. I was welcoming and empathetic,” Rentcome says. “I never wanted anyone to feel like they were asking a stupid question.”
Word began to spread about the raw diet for dogs and Bones2Go. So much so that a line to get in often formed outside the store. She added new categories of raw products, such as air-dried and dehydrated, and started looking for a larger retail space.
THE RESULTS Happy Customers, Happy Team
In 2008, Bones2Go moved to a new location with 3,000 square feet, 23 freezers and seven full-time employees. The store went from selling 2,000 pounds of raw food a month in 2002 to 20,000 pounds in 2017.
Rentcome doesn’t view her success in terms of increased profits, though.
“I look at what I can put back into the store, and how happy we are. So being larger has allowed me to take better care of my employees and my customers.”
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