Chris Joy becomes owner of Pets Plus

October 1 – BEMIDJI – Chris Joy was going to work in the automotive industry, but a family calling and a love of animals brought him home, and now he owns the pet store business his parents started there. 30 years.

Chris bought Pets Plus from his father and mother, Jim and Mary, on August 1, but he has worked in the store at 2014 Anne St. NW since 2007. He had just completed an automotive degree from South Central College in North Mankato. , Minnesota.

“I actually had a job at a car dealership in St. Peter,” Chris said, “but the economy was changing and I was supposed to be a service manager.”

But the person he was going to replace decided not to retire and Chris was offered a part-time job instead.

“At the time, my parents said they needed someone at the store,” he said. So Chris returned home, bringing a talent for marketing and technology to the company. While Jim was still working full time at Norbord, Mary was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with their son at Pets Plus.

“Instead of just me, it was a team effort,” Mary said. “There were two of us instead of one. So we divided up the tasks over the years and ended up forming a team.”

Chris said, “My first role here was just organizing and updating many aspects of the store.”

Pets Plus was founded in 1982. It all started with a sick dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Brutus. Jim and Mary Joy were concerned about their pet’s health, so they wanted to change its diet.

“We found that the food made a huge difference,” Jim said. “Most foods made him sick.”

A friend recommended dog food from a store in Cloquet, Minnesota. So Jim started doing the 320 mile round trip, and soon other friends wanted the product. So they started selling it from their home in Blackduck Lake as a delivery-only business.

“So it became too busy to be a hobby,” Jim said.

In 1998, the Joys moved the business to their current location, a former potato chip warehouse. Since then, they have renovated and extended the building three times.

Along with updating the store and building an online presence, Chris has added a full line of pet care products called North Winds Premium. It includes dry, freeze-dried and wet foods. More recently, the company has added supplements, treats and chews.

“When we were looking for pet food companies to work with, we were trying to find both value and quality,” Chris said. “If I could control the quality and could also buy directly, I could offer a very good price.”

He started working with a nutritionist in 2013 to formulate the products.

“A lot of our customers really liked it and had faith in what we were trying to do,” Chris said. “At the end of the day, our word matters, so if we tell you something is good, we want to make sure it’s good from the smallest ingredient all the way.”

One of North Winds most popular products is a yak chew cheese that hails from Nepal.

Jim and Mary said keeping Pets Plus in the family is indeed a joy.

“I think we’re fortunate to be able to pass on what I traditionally call a legacy business that we’ve worked so hard to get the process started,” Jim said. “When Chris arrived he totally embraced it. Part of what made it easier was that he loves pets. From the day we opened it was about the customers. I’m incredibly proud of the way we’ve focused on customers and customer service. He shares that.”

Although they no longer own the store, Mary plans to continue working there part-time and Jim will offer advice when asked.

“When he needs me, I’m just a phone call away,” Jim said. “I am his sounding board.”

Leave a Reply