Pillar of the Community
Pet Product News’ 2017-2018 People and Pet Partner Retailer of the Year winner flourishes
around an offering of nutritious food and an atmosphere of knowledge and empowerment.
1) Community events coordinator Stephanie Michelle (center) worked with the Homeless Leadership
Coalition on its A Point in Time homeless census. Bend Pet Express has donated products to Homeless
Leadership Coalition in the past.
2) The annual Howl-O-Ween event attracts costumed customers and has helped benefit Help Our Pets Eat,
a community food bank that Bend Pet Express co-founded with The Bend Spay and Neuter Project.
Locations: 420 NE Windy Knolls Dr., Bend, OR 97701
133 S W Century Dr., Bend, OR 97702
Company officers: Julie Hunter, owner; Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer;
Stephanie Michelle, community events coordinator
Employees: 14 full time, 8 part time
Years in business: 24
Average square feet: 4,200
Products and services: Dog and cat foods and supplies, self- and full-serve dog
wash, adoption days, Help Our Pets Eat food bank, workshops
BEND PET EXPRESS AT A GLANCE
BY LIZETT BOND
Imagine a pair of spokescritters representing the furry, four-legged set—spreading the word about special events, offering nutritional guidance, or giving insights into the latest and greatest of all things
pet. In one Oregon town, residents who wish to stay in touch with the
animal world and beyond need look only to Ben, a boisterous canine,
and his feline companion, Abby, for enlightenment. Even though the
fleecy mouthpieces are puppets, they know the score.
“Originally, Ben served as the distinctive voice of our radio com-
mercials and a video presence on social media, but we felt that the cat
community was left out,” says Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer
for Bend Pet Express in Bend, Ore. “So we created an episode where
Ben is excited to meet his new friend at the animal shelter and is then
disappointed upon discovering Abby is a cat.”
Abby’s dismay equaled Ben’s, but the two forged a bond and now
star in tandem, producing a visual learning platform that connects with
the community. The vivacious ambassadors are also on hand at local
functions and in-store events to further spread the word.
For Ben, Abby and the folks at Bend Pet Express, it’s all about embracing and empowering pets, people and the community.
The journey began in 1993 when Bend Pet Express owner Julie Hunter’s dog, CJ, became ill. A veterinarian advised an upgrade from the
popular grocery store brand CJ had been eating to a premium product.
Unable to find a convenient supplier, the entrepreneur ordered her own
pallet. From her garage, Hunter shared the healthful food and a budding nutritional awareness with friends and neighbors. However, this
customer base proved limited, and Hunter set an expansion in motion
by offering a pet food delivery service.
“She began putting educational fliers in mailboxes around the community, and from there, things took off,” McCohan says.
Hunter’s reputation for knowledge and helpful caring blossomed,
PEOPLE & PET PARTNER
YEAR of the