Animal Lovers + Customer Service Mavens in Berkeley
In a pet friendly city like Denver, Deborah Dempsey & her partner Tonya Payne founded Mouthfuls Pet Supply to serve our four legged furry friends and their owners the very best. They supply high quality treats, gear & pet necessities to our urban Denver community. They are offering a $5.00 gift certificate to the Denver Vibe readers to their store. They would love to meet you and give you & your pet a chance to experience their shop.
Why did you choose Berkeley to do business in?
My business partner and I had been eyeing this neighborhood for years but there was already a darling pet supply store near 32nd & Lowell. We didn’t want to infringe on his business so we held off and focused on our wholesale pet business. When we learned that the store closed, we headed down to the Tennyson area. We walked into our location and knew immediately that it was where we were meant to be and signed a lease within twenty-four hours. The area was filled with fabulous little art galleries, unique shops and a few restaurants. We just had a great feeling about it.
What about this neighborhood jives with your business culture?
Our store was founded on our “happiness guarantee”. Everyone who works for us is absolutely passionate about the health and well-being of pets and their parents. Our only store policy is that the customer is happy. Period. And guess what? Our customers ARE happy! Just walking down Tennyson Street makes us smile. Animal lovers abound. The neighborhood is passionate about supporting local businesses and has shown incredibly loyalty throughout the growing pains on the street. Our customers have become our friends and our neighbors are kind and caring. It’s like living in a small town, within a big city.
Why are you passionate about your business? What’s the story?
My business partner and I have been best friends for thirty-five + years. We are both passionate animal-lovers and customer-service mavens. In 1999 we were on an airplane to Las Vegas to console a friend during her divorce. While on the plane we began lamenting about our dogs’ bad breath and discussing the human breath mint options. By the time we landed, we had mapped out a business plan on a cocktail napkin and had polled most of our seat mates. Most people are talkers but we are type-A doers. Once we got home, we hired a chemist and spent five months creating a breath mint that dogs would actually eat. We packaged this in a tin (representative of a popular mint at the time) and started our business. Our clients included Cost Plus World Market, Bloomingdale’s, Filene’s and we even appeared on QVC. In 2005, once the neighborhood pet supply store in the Highlands closed, we decided to open our flagship location in the neighboring Berkeley neighborhood. In 2006 we received our first of 5 “Top of the Town” awards from 5280. We went on to win Westword’s Best of Denver as well. In 2007, the country’s largest pet food recall ascended on the industry and we were Denver’s go-to for the media. We were featured on every channel and the cover of The Denver Post. That same year, my business partner had a tenant move out of her rental property and he left his cat behind. The frightened cat crawled into a mechanical opening behind the bathtub and wouldn’t come out. We tried everything we could to retrieve this cat so she could begin reconstructing her destroyed rental to no avail. In a last-minute, desperate attempt, I posted an appeal on Craigslist asking for suggestions and offering a free cat with a year’s supply of food for anyone who could figure out how to get him out of the wall. Channel 9 picked up the story, sent a videographer to the house to get the “money shot” (of Freddy the Cat peeking out around the bathtub) and it went viral throughout the country. For an entire week Channel 9 updated viewers on Freddy the Cat. We were in forty newspapers throughout the country, countless local news shows and we received hundreds of suggestions via email. Chris Vanderveen even won an Emmy for the story. Needless to say, one of these days we really want to write a book about how to get a cat out of a wall! And needless to say – helped parlay our store into a more prominent position in the Denver area.
What inspired the look of your business/ the design?
Both of us are eclectic in our own home designs. I am more of a mid-century maximalist and Tonya is more ethereal and vintage-peaceful. I was previously a buyer at Stapleton for seventeen gift shops and wanted to maximize our space in order to keep our prices competitive. Because the neighborhood is artsy and eclectic as well, we didn’t want to utilize standard retail fixtures. Instead, we reached for what we had, what we could find in the dumpster and used furniture shops. Our cash wrap area is actually the trade show booth that we used when we were strictly manufacturing pet treats & toys. We have a Herman Miller poker table featuring our body parts, an old soap cart from the late 1800’s brimming with durable toys and our famous Bone (shaped) Bar featuring bulk treats available by the pound. Everything in the store was centered around our gleaming bakery case that we scored on Ebay right before we opened. We also hired someone to feng shui our shop early on. We love hearing our customers tell us the store just “feels good” and some come in every day just to say hello and get their dog their daily goodie.