BY LIZE TT BOND
The big, bad wolf has appeared in cautionary tales throughout historic literature, from “Aesop’s Fables” to
“Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” The intimidating
predator huffed, puffed and menaced a
range of characters, including diminutive
pigs and a little girl clad in red. However, in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, a
new member of the Canidae family has
emerged, this one is a gentler, eco-friendly proponent of organics, nutrition and
Pennye Jones-Napier and Julie Paez,
co-owners of The Big Bad Woof, opened
the doors to their endeavor in Washington, D.C., in 2005. At the time, two wolf
hybrids, Artemis and Bodie, were a part
of their family. Artemis suffered from
diabetes, and as a result of research into
nutritional solutions for the disease, the
pair decided to open a store that would
offer foods based on the results of their
In the meantime, Artemis and Bodie
started a family of their own, and the new
store was christened The Big Bad Woof, in
honor of the pack.
At the time, the word “green” was
barely a blip on the pet industry radar, the
massive recalls had not yet occurred, and
the prospect of running a business based
entirely on green, sustainable, local, USA-made products was a rarity. The Big Bad
Woof would cater to this market.
“We were told from the get-go that we
could not run a business in this way,” Paez
said. “This was before people were look-
ing at sustainable practices or where their
food was coming from.”
Due to this stance, The Big Bad Woof ex-
perienced little effects from the 2007 recalls.
“At that point, we knew we were on
the right track,” Paez said.
GROWING THE RIGHT WAY
Recently, the original Takoma-neighbor-hood store in Washington, D.C., relocated
to a more spacious, 3,900-square-foot site.
The move placed that location on par with
the 2,150-square-foot, higher-end Hyattsville, Md., store, which opened in August
2011. The original Takoma store, with its
painted cement floors and variety of display materials, was in need of an update.
“I like to describe our first location
as a very comfortable old pair
of jeans that you really
should have thrown
away a long time
er said. “The new
store combines the
look of our high-
location with an
At the Hyatts-
ville store, fixtures are
in reclaimed wood, with
recycled flat-wall, porcelain
tile and recessed LED lighting.
The new Takoma store also features natural flooring and, to help stabilize temperatures, two ceiling fans distribute air
throughout the high-ceiling space. A red
color scheme with black accents creates a
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Jones-Napier and Paez are devoted to social and environmental issues that set The
Big Bad Woof apart.
That attitude is reflected in the treats
and foods carried,
“We bring in local
product versus buying
from one of the distributors
based on the fact that the product doesn’t
have to travel as far, and that we are pour-
ing money back into the local economy,”
Jones-Napier said. “We look for products
available within a 200-mile radius.”
Other factors they might consider
when selecting products include the prod-
uct’s packaging and use of reclaimed ma-
terials, whether a manufacturer is hiring
disabled employees or is a minority- or
woman-owned business, or supporting
social or environmental causes.
“We work with like-minded companies—those doing their best to take care
of the planet,” Paez said.
Takoma is home to one of the oldest
farmers’ markets in the Washington, D.C.,
metropolitan area, with several local producers selling meat products. After approaching those known to be green and
organic in their practices, Jones-Napier
and Paez are now purchasing body parts
that might have previously been trashed
or composted. Items such as chicken feet,
bones and organ meats are now shrink
wrapped, frozen and part of the The Big
Bad Woof product mix.
“We have a huge following for these
items and have provided an additional income stream to these farmers,” Paez said.
Leading the Way
The Big Bad Woof’s commitment to quality pet nutrition, local businesses, and
social and environmental issues sets it apart from the competition.
What is The Big Bad Woof most known for?
Pennye Jones-Napier: Solutions. We have a
reputation for helping to solve basic issues,
such as food sensitivities or allergies, in a very
holistic manner. We are also known for supporting local business and carrying products
that are really, truly green.
Greatest challenge for pet retailers?
Julie Paez: Online competition. We are being
very clear with our distributors that if the
products being sold to us are available on
an online store for less than what we are
purchasing them for, we will no longer carry
that food. A lot of the manufacturers are
now paying attention to minimum advertised
pricing and enforcing it.
Greatest challenge to the pet industry?
JP: Ensuring the sanctity of products sourced
overseas; making sure those items don’t
contain ingredients that may be harmful in
terms of health. That’s a huge challenge that
manufacturers need to look at, particularly
those purchasing products in large volume.
There must be appropriate testing.
Interesting industry trends?
PJN: The superfoods that are coming
out in some of the pet foods. While they
are expensive, I also believe there is a
market. Another big trend is humane
sourcing and products showing a lot of
Goals looking forward?
PJN: Continuing to grow our shipping and
delivery services. It will expand our
customer base throughout the entire
D.C. metropolitan area, the surrounding
Maryland area and possibly Virginia. I see
this as a big part of our growth cycle.
With the additional space in the new
store, we would like to offer more of our
Woof Clinics and Taking Action Days.
SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL
YEAR of the
THE BIG BAD WOOF
AT A GLANCE
Owners: Pennye Jones-Napier and Julie Paez
Locations: 6960 Maple St. N W, Washington, D.C. 20012;
5501 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, MD 20781
Average square feet: 3,000
Employees: 9 full time, 14 part time
Years in business: 12
Products and services: Organic, holistic and premium raw
diets, corn-, wheat- and soy-free, freeze-dried, dehydrated,
kibble and canned foods for dogs and cats, pet supplies,
toys, leashes, collars, holistic supplements, foods for small
mammals and birds, organic chicken feed, delivery service,
CSA drop-off, eco-friendly, USA and locally sourced products, adoption events, Taking Action Days.
THE PET RETAIL LIFE