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Green Dog Pet Supply in Portland, OR, promotes sustainability around the world and in its own community.

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Green Dog Pet Supply, Portland, OR

OWNERS: Christine Mallar, Michael Mallar; URL:greendogpetsupply.com; FOUNDED: 2004; OPENED FEATURED STORE: 2010; EMPLOYEES: 4 full-time, 4 part-time; AREA: 3,000 square feet; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/greendogpetsupply; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/greendogpetsupply


AS A ZOOKEEPER and conservationist, Christine Mallar spent more than 20 years developing and championing the feeding and training methods that modern pet care providers now embrace.

“I was part of a movement at Zoo Atlanta to feed species-appropriate diets to the primates,” she says. “I helped establish positive-reinforcement training programs for a number of species, teaching animals to participate in their own medical care, reducing stress.”

As a founding member of The Orangutan Conservancy, Christine saw firsthand how farming of certain product ingredients negatively impacts the planet and wildlife.

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It only made sense, then, that when she decided to start a new career, it was as the owner of a business that combined her passions in all of these areas. In 2004, Christine and husband Michael, who had a background in customer service and retail, opened Green Dog Pet Supply in Portland, OR.

Christine and Michael Mallar work to make pets and the planet healthier. Michael came up with the store name, which perfectly reflects their mission.

Christine and Michael Mallar work to make pets and the planet healthier. Michael came up with the store name, which perfectly reflects their mission.

Product Selection

Christine and Michael strive to carry only thoughtfully sourced and sustainable products.

When evaluating food and treats, among other criteria they look for those that do not contain factory-farmed meat — for humane, health and environmental reasons — and for companies that provide transparency through third-party inspections.

“Answers, Small Batch and Open Farm check a lot of boxes for us,” Christine says. “Shameless Pets upcycles leftover blueberries in their treats, and Jiminy’s uses sustainable cricket protein.”

Gear and toys also must meet the store’s green standards. Favorites include Goli collars, which use remnant yarn from the fabric industry; Krebs leashes, made from upcycled rope no longer safe for climbing; and Hyperflite Flying Discs, which a customer with an American Bulldog brought to their attention. She would buy $1 flying discs by the dozen because they would quickly get sharp edges due to her dog’s teeth.

“She found Hyperflight,” Christine says. “That introduced us to the concept that durability is also sustainable. That one toy lasts a year. Think of all the landfill she was creating with the throwaway ones and now isn’t.”

The couple doesn’t shy away from effecting change on the industry level either. If an issue comes up with a product they carry or want to carry, they bring their concerns to the maker.

“It’s always been our policy to try hard to present the case to the company that makes the product first, to see if they might be willing to consider our request to remove the ingredient in question,” Christine says.

For example, she lobbied for the removal of carrageenan thickener in canned pet foods for potential health reasons, and three global brands made the change.

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Their efforts impact other industries, as well. When local soapmaker Molly Muriel pitched its pet shampoo bar to the store, Christine agreed to carry it if palm oil was taken out.

“It was wonderful for so many reasons, but I worked in orangutan conservancy and have a lot of experience with palm oil,” she says, referring to its role as a driver of deforestation, which destroys the habitats where these animals live.

The company listened to Christine and found a way to replace the ingredient in all of its people and pet products, which also are sold in grocery stores across Oregon and Washington. Other local brands that Green Dog Pet Supply carries include Mad About Organics, Cycle Dog and BioZyme.

“Locally made is very important. We’d prefer products not travel around the world to get to us,” she says.

Themed displays featuring a fundraising element are a regular site at the store.

Themed displays featuring a fundraising element are a regular site at the store.

Sustainable Stores

Support of local businesses as a core value also applies to other independent pet retailers. Christine and Michael helped start a coalition of 10 like-minded stores in the Portland area. The goals: to promote the importance of shopping local and to share resources, both to better compete with online and big-box stores, and even large regional chains.

“We trade information that helps us be better, stronger business owners,” Christine says.

For example, they ask each other about staff pay rates and for recommendations for services, and collaborate on events and fundraising. While the biggest yet planned, a lecture by Answers Nutrition Science director Billy Hoekman, had to be canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, the group continued to publish its annual holiday calendar. It has raised more than $4,000 over the past three years.

“We each have a page, and we all have customer photo contests to choose the photos. We each choose a rescue and donate the proceeds of the sales to that rescue and feature them at the bottom of the page. On the back page is info about the importance of supporting local businesses, and inside the calendar is a bonus page of coupons to each of the stores in the calendar.”

Coalition members also regularly refer customers to each other if they can’t meet their needs.

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“The customers are happy because they get what they need, and they come back to us because they appreciate that.”

Christine and Michael appreciate their customers in return, not only for their business but also for helping to make their pets healthier and the planet a more sustainable place to live.

PHOTO GALLERY (16 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Green Dog Pet Supply

1. SUSTAINABLE DESIGN: Reclaimed doors, windows, barn wood, picket fences and railings make up the walls and store fixtures, creating a farmhouse chic aesthetic. When Christine and Michael moved the store to its current location in 2010, they carefully deconstructed and reconstructed everything. Their approach lowered costs, kept the found pieces out of landfills and lessened the need for new materials. It also earned the store Gold Certification from Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

2. E-TEACHING: Christine shares her wealth of knowledge through articles on the store’s website and in its newsletter. She covers dog and cat behavior and training, nutrition, pet safety, and green living and pet care. Her newsletter has 2,800 subscribers! Christine says, “My newsletter is the thing I feel proudest of, and I feel like it drives more business to our store than anything else I do. I use it as a platform to talk about certain products and to highlight topics that are specific to our mission.” It also promotes specials.

3. OPERATIONS: While the owners and employees each have assigned responsibilities, areas overlap. For example, one person does not handle all finances. Christine does taxes and bookkeeping, but Michael handles payroll. All have certain products for which they order, receive, price, and track sales and credits. This allows the small team to get it all done.

4. VET FRIENDLY: Local holistic veterinarians regularly refer clients to the store because of its focus on nutrition. They see quite a few pets with kidney issues and cater to them by labeling and color coding all foods with stickers that identify phosphorus levels.

5. ECO RETURNS: The store took part in the Flex Forward return-to-retail packaging pilot program and was one of the top five participants in the Pacific Northwest.

Pamela Mitchell is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Ty the Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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