Local Pet Store - Ruff House

Teddy is my first pet, and when I got him, I wanted to make sure that I fed him right. I wanted to feed him clean ingredients so that I can keep him as healthy as possible. Ruff House is located close to where I live, and I stopped in to see what I could find for Teddy. I met Mike, the owner, on my first visit, and he was extremely knowledgeable and gave me great suggestions on what I should provide Teddy to eat and great treats. He is the one that got Teddy hooked on Earth Animal No-Hide Chews. Every time I would go in, I would see him, and he would know our names and ask how Teddy liked the food. He made us feel special, and I loved shopping local and from a privately owned shop instead of a large corporate chain. That is just my preference I don't see anything wrong with large companies, but I don't feel like they are your friends. I went in with Teddy again, and Mike was not there, and now I saw a woman there. I was thinking to myself, where is Mike? So I asked, " Oh, I have never met you before," She said her name was Lauren that she was Mike's wife. I was a little disappointed I didn't see Mike, but that changed in seconds because Lauren is just as impressive as her husband. Lauren is so friendly. I genuinely feel like she is a friend of mine. We chat and laugh every time I go in. She took the time to follow us on Instagram and always follows our journey. She is just wonderful and super helpful, like her husband. I reached out to interview her to get more details about Ruff House and the Amazing Duo. 

First, I want to get to know you a little better. How did you and your husband meet? 

Mike and I met in 2010 when we were both bartending in Lauderdale by the Sea. We had many the same friends, so it just seemed inevitable that we'd meet at some point. 😊 


Was it you plan to always work together? 

It was when we got our 1st puppy together, Riley. Riley was the center of both our worlds and had all the perks to living his best life – convertible to the dog park, errands everywhere with me, puppuccinos – you name it. I spent a lot of time at the store I got his food & treats from, learning about feeding "naturally" & taking a huge interest in pet health. My Aunt & Uncle had a similar type of store in St. Louis, and I always remember walking in there and being in awe at all the products offered for dogs & cats. I ran the idea by Mike to open up our own pet health market, and while there was a lot of uncertainty on both our ends, we finally decided to go all in and take the plunge!  


When did you realize you wanted to open a local shop that sells healthy pet food? 

We were condo living when we got Riley & as Golden Retrievers do, he grew big! There was no good place to wash him outside, and inside was NOT happening, so I turned to google for a Self-Wash place I could bring him. It turns out the nearest one to us at the time was over half an hour away, so we just kept taking him to the groomer every time he needed a bath. I would've taken him to the groomer regardless, but I was wanting to save a little money in between groomings by washing him myself. Once the store concept was coming to life, we looked at if there would be a need for a Self-Wash and if it was in our budget. Once we figured it into our plans, we knew we made the right decision.


How do you decide which products to bring in your shop? 

Honestly, we did a lot of reading & some recon at other stores similar to our vision. I utilized my uncle's advice initially as well - what sort of products worked for him, etc. – but he was in a completely different market. Midwest vs. South Florida doesn't necessarily produce the same results for what customers are looking for, so most of it was trial and error and a lot of learning.  


I love the idea of the self-serve dog wash. Did you come up with that idea because you realized there was a demand or you have a large dog and thought it would be easier if you could do this outside your house? 

We were condo living when we got Riley & as Golden Retrievers do, he grew big! There was no good place to wash him outside, and inside was NOT happening, so I turned to google for a Self-Wash place I could bring him. It turns out the nearest one to us at the time was over half an hour away, so we just kept taking him to the groomer every time he needed a bath. I would've taken him to the groomer regardless, but I was wanting to save a little money in between groomings by washing him myself. Once the store concept was coming to life, we looked at if there would be a need for a Self-Wash and if it was in our budget. Once we figured it into our plans, we knew we made the right decision.


What has been the best part so far about being your own boss? 

There are many perks to being your own boss, but I think the #1 is that I get to make our store in the likes of my vision and nobody else’s (except Mike sometimes 😊 ). Being in the hospitality industry so long, I was always just used to doing what other people wanted me to do, wear, sell & say. Now that I’m the boss, I strive to put myself in our consumers' shoes so that I can meet their needs in my own way.  


Any funny stories about dogs coming into your store?

I feel like in the 7 years we’ve been in business, I have seen it all! Our 1st year of being open we threw a, what was supposed to be small, Halloween party & costume contest. You know, something small & casual for locals in the neighborhood with some snacks and what not. The day of the party we had dogs and owners from all over south Florida show up, most in full costumes that they had made special for Halloween. One lady even showed up with her 2 dogs in a motorized car for toddlers. There was zero room in the store for the food, but that’s ok because the spread was gone in minutes anyway. Nothing in this industry shocks me anymore. My favorite is doing cute little low-key iPhone photo shoots like we did of Teddy that night or listening to the hysterical howls coming from the Self-Wash area!


What is the hardest part about running your own business?

I think the hardest part of owning my own business has to do with the industry I’m in. These are people’s pets…wait, not pets…children, and when it comes to dealing with their health & well-being, there’s quite a bit to know. Mike & I take a lot of pride in staying current with news, trends, & available products. It’s not like the old days where everyone fed Purina and Milkbones. The more pets become domesticated, the more changes within them take place. It’s not so cut & dry anymore.

How long have you been in business?

We hit 7 years this year and aren’t looking to go anywhere! Sniff on that Chewy & Amazon! 😊


Well Pups, you have heard it from Lauren they are not going anywhere so make sure you go check them out and tell them Teddy says woof woof!


Below you will see a photo of Teddy outside of Ruff House and a photo of Lauren & Mike's Dogs.


Instagram: @ruffhouseftl

Website: www.ruffhousefl.com



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