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Destination Zone

The Green K9 offers people and their pets so much more than just a trip to the store.

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The Green K9, Urbana, MD

OWNER: Marni Lewis; URL: greenk9urbana.com; FOUNDED: 2019; EMPLOYEES: 6 full-time, 10 part–time; AREA: 4,300 square feet indoors, 1,000 square feet outdoors; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/agreenk9urbana; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/greenk9urbana


Whiskey barrels and bath tubs are just a few of the items repurposed for The Green K9. First-time customers also get a free reusable tote.

Whiskey barrels and bath tubs are just a few of the items repurposed for The Green K9. First-time customers also get a free reusable tote.

DOGS AND THEIR people can visit The Green K9 in Urbana, MD, every day for a week and still find something new to do. Pick up healthy foods. Use the self-wash. Get a groom. Play with other pups. Enjoy treats on the patio. Celebrate a birthday. Even donate to charity. And they will have fun every single trip.

“I wanted to create a destination, a store where people could bring their dogs and have a good time, not just at an event, but during every shopping experience,” owner Marni Lewis says.

She has done exactly that, and her loyal and appreciative customer base continues to grow, also thanks to a warm, welcoming atmosphere and above-and-beyond service.

The Vibe

The Green K9 sits within a pet-friendly, mixed-use development. Lewis had previously opened and sold or moved on from two highly successful businesses that offer boarding, grooming and retail. She knew the location would more than work.

“It has 300 apartments,” Lewis says. “Anyone who has a dog and wants to rent in the area pretty much comes here.”

Residents have access to an on–site Bark Park, but she offers them another option for outings with their pets — plus a 15% discount. Inside the store, they’ll find an aesthetic that reflects its name. Lewis lists the many sustainable efforts and touches of nature throughout the 4,300 square feet.

“Repurposed building timbers used for shelving. The store logo and department signage in moss. The front counter made from repurposed whiskey barrels. A 16-by-10 foot ecoscape mural in the day-care room.”

Custom chalkboard art and other signs hang on white walls and columns alongside touches of brick and pops of green paint. A rich leather sofa anchors a seating area where customers can sip a cup of complementary Nespresso coffee while their pups try samples from the treat bar. It all combines to create a bright, airy space with a purposeful coffee-shop vibe.

“People love coffee shops,” Lewis explains. “They want to stay and hang out. Here, they can bring their dog.”

Marni-Lewis

Marni Lewis

The Green K9 has become a neighborhood destination for families with both young children and pets, as well.

“They bring the kids when it’s the dog’s birthday and to use the private self-wash rooms, which are perfect for them to romp around in and help mom and dad bathe the dog.”

Watching day care through a 10–foot–wide window also makes shopping trips fun for all ages.

More Than A Good Time

Customers learn how to better care for their pets at The Green K9. Lewis draws on her college studies as well as her 20-plus years in the industry to create those opportunities.

“As a nutrition major with a B.S in health education, I have always believed fresh is best,” she says. “We educate every customer on how important adding moisture is, especially to dry diets. Our focus is minimally processed, so I am thrilled with the popularity boom in gently cooked and raw foods. We built a special section to highlight our air-dried, synthetic-free and human-grade products. Our dry food section has only seven main brands for dogs and three for cats.”

Fromm, All Provide, Stella & Chewy, Earth Animal and Weruva are among her best sellers. Lewis makes space for a variety of customer feeding preferences.

“We don’t try to convert every dry food feeder to fresh. It’s simply not an economical option for many pet owners, especially those with large breeds. The benefits of adding moisture, raw toppers and elixirs to the bowl are repeated like a broken record.”

Just like with decor, she looks for natural, sustainable products to carry. Lewis appreciates how far the industry has come.

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“There are many more brands now that meet the basic standards most independent retailers insist on: no wheat, corn, soy, by-products, or artificial preservatives and coloring. As we demand even better for pets, sustainably sourced, humanely raised, traceable ingredients, no antibiotics or hormones, human-grade and minimally processed are high on our checklist.” She adds, “The store has several toy lines that are eco-friendly, and we have a special section for locally made and sourced. All of our treats and chews are made in the U.S.”

Pet parents also benefit from the years Lewis has spent as a groomer in her previous businesses. She has a dedicated grooming staff at The Green K9 and offers a self-wash experience that goes well beyond DIY. In fact, each of the two fully enclosed rooms could easily host a professional groomer. One even has a walk-in shower for giant breeds, elderly pups and those who don’t do well in a raised tub. Team members support newcomers and regulars alike, walking them through everything from choosing the right shampoo and tools for their dog’s coat to safe use of the tub, table and dryer.

Lewis often can be found in one of the rooms working with customers.

The-Green-K9-Bakery-Case

Day care dogs can lounge on comfy couches climb playscapes, then swing by the bakery case for a treat on the way out.

“I love helping people, giving tips and recommendations, and upselling services their pets really need. With double-coated dogs, we’ll invite them to come back so we can get the undercoat. Or we’ll upsell our Tailwagger service, trimming the nails, around the eyes, the sanity areas. If I’m free, I’ll do it for them right there.”

The self-wash rooms see steady traffic during the week, and weekends require appointments due to high demand.

“From open to close, they’re in use. I wish we had two more.”

Back to the Fun

While the pups likely prefer visits to The Green K9 that don’t involve a bath, it doesn’t stop them from excitedly leading their people to the store. They can expend energy with friends during day care, both indoors in a spacious area complete with couches and play equipment and outside in the 1,000-square–foot yard with artificial grass. Residents from the apartments regularly meet up on the 2,000–square–foot adjacent patio. And birthdays are always a cause for celebration, either with a day-care or private party, or just a quick visit for a treat and pic. Dogs, cats and even pigs have popped in.

“Birthday dogs get a photo with a cool blackboard sign, personalized with their name, and a birthday hat,” Lewis says. “We conveniently take them right next to the bakery case.”

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The Green K9 opened in November of 2019, just a few months before pandemic precautions arrived. Lewis looks forward to offering a full event schedule again in 2022. The 2021 Halloween parade on the patio drew more than 150 people with their pups, and holiday photos and monthly adoption days have started back up.

“We’re starting a Pups on the Patio in the spring, a big social every month. We’ll have vendors come and hold raffles to raise money for rescues. We have a lot of wineries and breweries in the area, so we’ll invite them to come and do tastings.”

Despite the challenges COVID-19 brought with it, Lewis feels great pride in the fact that her new business not only survived but doubled its income from 2020 to 2021. She can’t wait to continue that trajectory in 2022 and beyond.

Five Cool Things About Lane & Kate

1. A GOOD INFLUENCE: Lewis has teamed up with social media influencer Ginger Devine to create Ginger’s Closet. The special display features freebies sent to the famous Shih Tzu. It’s a win-win. “She’s collected a house full of products. We sell them and donate the proceeds to rescues. Having her as a customer, I get to see new products that I can bring into the store.” The business also gets a social media boost when Ginger shares photos from her fun at day care. A video of Ginger leading the Halloween parade in a remote-control Mercedes earned 100,000-plus views.

2. BERNIE: The Green K9 has a professional-level mascot in Bernie. The pup dances at the closest intersection every weekend, waving a huge sign pointing people to the store.

3. FOSTER SUCCESS: Lewis has at least one foster dog at any given time. She brings them to day care and promotes them on social media. They usually find a forever family within two weeks. She also does rescue dog makeovers for adoptable pups in the community.

4. SHOP LOCAL: Urbana Canvas Co., Kratos Leashes, T&L Company and Bare Bites are among the brands featured in a special section dedicated to local artisans.

5. ENRICHMENT: Day-care dogs get treat puzzles and snuffle mats that are available for sale in the store. Team members are sure to point pet parents to their pup’s favorite during pickup.

PHOTO GALLERY (10 IMAGES)

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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