While many health-conscious shoppers stock their own plates with produce from the farmer’s market, Mary Steen and Susie Clark have been stocking their stall with food for customers’ four-legged friends.
The sisters own the Twin Cities West franchise of Pet Wants, a delivery-based business that provides health food for dogs and cats. Steen, of Lakeville, and Clark, of Eden Prairie, started their branch of Pet Wants − an Ohio-based company − in mid-June and have been spreading the word at the Hopkins farmer’s market and other community events since.
People calling themselves “pet parents” or even “pet grandmas and grandpas” show up to sign up for weekly or monthly deliveries or buy the sisters’ homemade dog treats for their own pets or for their children’s pets, Steen said. One customer even brought their cat to the farmer’s market in a portable carrier, the sisters recalled.
“They’re considered family members,” Steen said of pets today.
A dog’s death inspired Steen to learn more about pet nutrition, she said. The first dog she owned as an adult, a German shepherd mix, “ate probably a rawhide a day,” which Steen believes contributed to her pet’s rapid health decline after a cancer diagnosis.
“Ever since that time I’ve been geared toward trying to understand things more and better,” Steen said.
Clark’s interest in health started with trying to buy healthy food for herself and the human members of her family, she said, and her interest soon expanded into pet nutrition as well. She began talking with dog food vendors at pet stores and building her base of knowledge of which items are nutritious, and which are fillers, on the long and tiny ingredients list on pet food packaging. Now, the table has turned, and Clark is the one educating customers about the benefits of Pet Wants.
“I already had a base of knowledge of how I feed my animals,” she said. “I enjoy talking to people about it, not to mention I love meeting their animals.”
The sisters drive all over the west metro to deliver orders of dog and cat food, which is shipped from the Pet Wants kitchens in Ohio, as well as sweet potato or peanut butter treats and animal spa products, which they make at home with local meats from Von Hanson’s and honey from the Hopkins farmer’s market. Their selling points are the kibble’s high nutritional value from low-temperature cooking and minimal preservatives.
“Every ingredient has as purpose,” Steen said.