Pet Shop Boys
A popular Los Angeles pet store barks up
a new tree in the South Bay.
Healthy Spot co-founders Mark Boonnark and Andrew Kim epitomize the innovative spirit that is synonymous with entrepreneurial Southern California. Since opening their first upscale pet care outpost in the spring of 2008, these Cal fraternity brothers turned business partners have barely been able to keep up with demand for their niche pet lifestyle business. But the intention behind their business was mostly personal.
“The pet food recall happened in 2007,” says Andrew, who had adopted his shih tzu mix, Maya, during that time. “When looking into her foods, a lot of the foods recommended to me had been recalled. Mark and I talked about it. We thought our pets deserve better and felt there were a lot better products and options out there for customers and that we could do it better.”
Mark, who adopted his Parson Russell terrier, Roscoe, lost another dog to cancer right after college. “He lived a long life … 13 years,” he shares. “But I always fed him recognizable brands. They were more expensive, and I thought they were healthy. I never educated myself or looked into the ingredients. The pet food recall made people question what they were doing and actually look at the ingredient panel. That’s what really motivated us, being pet owners ourselves.”
While pet nutrition and the products they sell are central to Healthy Spot philosophy, the guys also championed small dog day care and grooming spas. For them, pet health is holistic and not just the food put in a dog’s bowl. “Dogs are naturally pack animals, and socialization is important,” says Andrew. “Grooming for a lot of the breeds is important to maintain their health and comfort. We looked at it in the same way that we approached foods.”
To provide services with a level of care that they would want for their own pets, they designed the daycare in a glass-enclosed space so custom – ers could see everything going on and know that their dogs are in good care. “We always preach transparency,” says Mark. “It’s literal and figura – tive in our store. You can see everywhere that your pet is being taken care of. There is really nothing for us to hide, and we’re proud of it—because of the intimate care that we provide, the cleanliness of the facilities. We want to show it off. It’s our ‘doggie in the window’ concept.”
From their initial store, Andrew and Mark expanded quickly, open – ing eight stores in eight years. This summer they will open their latest Healthy Spot right here in Manhattan Beach. But why the South Bay?
“Even though we’re part of larger Southern California, we try to focus on communities that have an identity, and the South Bay really has a strong identity,” says Andrew. “We like to be part of the community and be able to tap into that to make a difference. That is really exciting for us. We would have liked to be here much sooner, but it was finding the right opportunity.”
Equally important, both partners stress the value of a community that is socially aware, cares about health and fitness and enjoys being eco-friendly. “Dogs are the social enabler,” Andrew says. “They create real interaction. We have (dog) events … hikes, pawtys, yappy hours … people come together. We are literally able to connect with a community through their animals.”
While the duo are mostly focused on the successful opening of the Man – hattan Beach location, they still find time to give back to the communities they serve in other ways. “We’re proud that our growth translates to the impact we’re able to have,” says Andrew. “Through our roundup (custom – ers can round up their bill and donate the extra change), we were donating $100 a month. Now because of our growth we’re donating thousands— approaching $200,000 in donations through that program.”
These funds helped facilitate the adoption of thousands of dogs and cats through the stores. “For me, I’m proudest that we’ve been able to make a positive impact and stay true to our values through all the changes, growth cycles and challenges that have come our way,” Andrew says. “We’re no lon – ger just an endeavor of Mark and Andrew. We’re powered by our team.”