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February 27, 2008

A Quest to Help One…now a Business to Help Many

By: Daryl Skaradzinski

A quest to find natural means to help her pet live a healthier life led Carrie Marble to open her own pet store, a business that was voted as Milwaukee’s 2nd Best Pet Supply Store by visitors to WISN-Channel 12’s wisn.com “A-List” and recently celebrated its first anniversary.

“I was very excited to hear about the voting results,” said a clearly pleased Carrie Marble, owner of Bark N’ Scratch Outpost, 5835 W. Blue Mound Rd. “Since the top winner is in Mukwonago, and there really is no one else above us in Milwaukee, I consider that we’re number one here.”

Marble said she got the inspiration to start Bark N’ Scratch Outpost from her dog Snowbelle Bagwell, a Bichon frise. “She had terrible hot spots, chewed her paws and had crust-stained eyes,” said Marble. After expensive trips to many veterinarians, Snowbelle showed no relief and was declining in health.

During her search to help Snowbelle, Marble discovered that a natural high quality diet gave her the comfort she needed. She made such a remarkable turnaround that Snowbelle is featured in advertisements for Northwest Naturals pet food in nationally circulated pet magazines. However, the store that stocked the food that led to Snowbelle’s phoenix-like change was some distance away. Marble often became frustrated when her busy schedule prevented her from getting there.

“I was complaining to my husband that I didn’t have time to go to the store to get her food, and he said ‘Why don’t you open a store yourself?” So I did,” Marble explained. “I had run businesses with my husband for several years, so I knew what was needed on that end, and I had previous retail and customer service experience, but I was unfamiliar about the field itself.”

“I’ve learned things by going to seminars and discussing animal problems with owners, but I’ve discovered if you listen to your customers that you can learn a lot,” said Marble. “Our customers are self-thinkers who search the Internet for information and then are willing to share it with other customers and myself. They’re thinking outside the box and discover as I did that a natural diet is a means to helping our four-legged friends.”

“We take time to answer your questions whereas most vets don’t have extensive training in nutrition and some wouldn’t be inclined to take the time to suggest alternatives,” she explained. “Overall it’s a common sense approach to not only helping a dog survive, but thrive.”

“We’re trying to create an oasis of health for our pets,” Marble said. “You’ll learn things about your pet by coming here and being treated differently than you would in a big box store.”

Bark N’ Scratch Outpost carries an extensive line of natural and raw based food products, natural supplements and herbal treatments to address a variety of pet conditions, as well as a line of unique pet supplies and gifts. It offers nail clipping for dogs, cats and rabbits and puppy and dog training by All Paws Dog Training, which specializes in positive, clicker training by owner Beth Madunic.

It will start offering full grooming in the near future, and hosts indoor puppy play time and dog parties during the winter. It also offers litter training for dogs – “a great way to relieve some of the stress associated with leaving a pet at home while one’s away, and perfect for pets with little or no yard, such as condos or apartment dwellers,” said Marble.

Bark N’ Scratch Outpost is open Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m. and closed Tuesday. Call 414-444-4110 or visit www.barknscratchoutpost.com for more information.

Daryl L. Skaradzinski and his wife Anne share their home with three dogs. He's General Manager of the Milwaukee Post newspaper, enjoys traveling, camping with their pets, hot, spicy foods and cold beers and is an avid Packers fan.

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