Mark Haslam, owner of The Feed
Bag Pet Supply Co., said the move from Grafton to
Mequon allowed the business to expand its services.
While it was a committee of humans that gave the The
Feed Bag Pet Supply Co. the thumbs up as the Ozaukee
Economic Development Small Business of the Year award,
there are dozens, if not hundreds of other individuals
that could have concurred except for one simple fact:
They lack thumbs.
Pets – those
of the paw and fin persuasion – and their humans have counted on
The Feed Bag since its first Grafton location opened in 2003.
Yet, at the same time, owner Mark Haslam and manager Connie
Roller have been equally dependent on their customers to
establish the business and keep it successful.
“We moved to
Mequon in 2010, and when you change locations, you can really
only expect to bring about 10 to 15 percent of your customer
base with you, so essentially we were starting over as a
brand-new business,” said Haslam. “But moving also gave us the
opportunity to do some things we really never had the room to do
in either of our Grafton locations.”
Megan Sprink, an associate at
The Feed Bag, often provides pet-sitting help as
owners shop in the store.
Feed Bag started out as one of the last remaining stores
in Grafton’s Manchester Mall, and moved briefly to the
Shopko plaza before making the jump to Mequon and the
former Ethan Allen furniture gallery space. The store
had already developed a positive reputation among pet
owners for its emphasis on high-quality, better
nutrition food for pets (many brands are made by
Wisconsin manufacturers), full-service grooming and
positive reinforcement dog training.
But what it
really lacked was space. Though Haslam and Roller did not want
to leave the Grafton community, they weren’t able to find a
space that would allow them to expand into new product and
wanted to offer dog aquatics, and we were actually the only pet
store licensed in the state to have a dog-related swimming pool
facility, and we couldn’t until we moved here,” said Haslam.
initial hope was that the fitness pool could provide a place for
dogs who needed some form of therapeutic exercise, such as those
who were carrying a few extra pounds, had arthritis or were
recuperating from surgery. All activities are completed with a
Feed Bag employee in the pool with the dog, and sometimes even
in collaboration with a vet. It has since grown to become a
place where puppies can learn to swim.
The Feed Bag now offers a
variety of aquatic programs for dogs, including
“People think that all dogs know how to swim, and many
do, but it has a lot to do with the amount of webbing in
their paws,” explained Haslam. “A Chihuahua really
doesn’t have that webbing because they don’t need to; a
Labrador does because they are a breed that spends time
to expand the dog aquatics and the existing grooming business
also meant that the store could continue expanding its staff,
which is now around 21 people. Haslam credits his staff for a
lot of the store’s continued success, and says that their
knowledge comes from store training as well as their interest in
seeking out additional education on their own.
“Hats off to
them – not only do they know a lot about pets, but they also
have a way of really making our customers smile,” he said. “They
really get how to meet the needs of the pets.”
agreed. “What’s great about our staff is that they all have
their favorite type of pets – so really, if I don’t know the
answer, for example, I can go to the ‘cat lady’ on staff or the
fish people and get the answer that our customer needs,” she
OED Business of the Year Award in the small business category
surprised and pleased Haslam.
successful business is just not doable without the right people,
and we have the right people here,” he said. “It’s great to
share this award with them.”
provides pet food for needy
MEQUON — For
the past three years, The Feed Bag has also provided important
assistance to pets and their owners who aren’t able to afford a
bag of food from their shelves.
looking at the growing number of rescue and shelter pets in the
area and we were wondering what we could do to stop that from
happening,” said Connie Roller, who added that the problem was
that people could no longer afford to feed their pets.
these pets were also older, and often not adoptable due to their
age or temperament. She also found out that some were being
separated from older owners, who had to make the decision to
feed themselves or their pets.
“Essentially, these people were forced to split up their
families because they lived alone with their pets, and nobody
should ever be forced to make that decision,” she said. “When
you’re in need of that kind of support, it’s a very stressful
situation, and taking away a furry stress reliever just
The Feed Bag
called Family Sharing and asked if the food pantry could use dog
and cat food. At the same time, they approached a pet food
manufacturer to see if it would be willing to let the program
purchase pet food at a reduced cost.
“We had, on
occasion, taken pet food to them and it really disappeared
immediately because there was such a demand for it,” Roller
said. “But with this program, we only provide top-quality food –
no seconds or opened bags.”
subsists on donations and the occasional fundraiser to sustain
itself. To date, it has delivered about 20,000 pounds of pet
food to hungry pets through Ozaukee County via Family Sharing.
To donate to
the program, contact the Feed Bag at 241-7061 or email Roller at