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Do What You Love…

September 22, 2010 by Tails Magazine in Lifestyle with 0 Comments

PookiesIt’s been an incredible eight years since partners Marcia Sundberg and Melissa Gosik left the corporate world to run Pookie’s Pet Nutrition and Bow Wow Bakery. It hasn’t always been easy, but these two have made their mark on Central Florida doing what they love best: caring for pets and the people who love them.

Marcia and Melissa took what was an incredibly small storefront known for its homemade treats, and made it into a holistic pet food store. In the process, they moved to a new (and larger) location in Winter Park (at 1980 W Fairbanks Avenue), opened a second location in Ocoee in 2006 (at 2462 Maguire Road) and went through a name change to reflect who they really are.

The natural food for pets craze was just starting in Central Florida when Sundberg and Gosik purchased Pookie’s Bow Wow Bakery.  But holistic pet foods and sound nutrition has always been a passion for these women, so they developed a business plan that included selling pet food with no additives as well as getting the word out to pet guardians about diet and nutrition. Pookie’s has always stressed the importance of a healthy diet and the long term benefits – including better quality of life for pets and fewer visits to the veterinarian.  “The biggest issue is that a lot of people don’t find out about us until there’s a problem [with their pet],” Gosik notes.

Today, Pookie’s has an amazing record of repeat customers due in large part to the quality of their products and their superior customer service. They rely heavily on customer referrals for new business but now even veterinarians (both conventional and holistic) are starting to recommend them to their clients. This success has allowed Pookie’s owners to give back to the community that supports them.

Marcia and Melissa have made a habit of supporting rescue groups throughout the greater Central Florida area: They regularly donate food to a rotating list of local nonprofit rescues, and also donate gift baskets and gift certificates to animal groups that are having fundraisers. Pookie’s sponsors dog washes to benefit the Central Florida Animal Pantry (which was recently featured Tails Inc.) they’ve hosted food drives for Wishbones, and run book signings and yard sales for In Harmony With Nature (all local rescue organizations).

Most importantly, each year they host Pookie’s Winter RescueFest with the sole purpose of giving the smaller rescues in the area a forum to bring some of the animals they have up for adoption, and to increase awareness of the continuing problem of homeless animals. The next Winter RescueFest is scheduled for January 29, 2011. Last year, they had 20 small non-profit  rescue groups attend, and over 30 pet-related vendors. Between the raffles and food and drink sales, they were able to distribute $6,000 to the participating rescue groups to use for food and medical supplies. Plus, they had nine successful adoptions during the event!

Pookie’s is interested in getting the word out about its second location in Ocoee – an opportunity the women want to use to teach a different audience in Central Florida about pet diet and nutrition.  They have recently started “Yappy Hours” at the Ocoee location, and these are held every third Tuesday from 5-8 pm.   Each month a different rescue group is featured, and all proceeds from the event benefit that group.

Showing that they practice what they preach, the women are guardians to a wide variety of animals:

•    Sara – a ‘potcake’ rescue from the Bahamas;
•    Jack – a Boston Terrier adopted from rescue after being hit by a car;
•    Chuck – another Boston Terrier rescued from a hoarder;
•    Harlee – a Pomeranian-Yorkie mix who is seven pounds of attitude;
•    Ziggy – a 16-year-old old tuxedo cat rescued from the Fort Christmas area
•    Ethel – the store cat named for Ethel Merman because she talks a lot and is pretty loud!

Pookie’s is interested in getting the word out about its second location in Ocoee – an opportunity the women want to use to teach a different audience in Central Florida about pet diet and nutrition. They have recently started “Yappy Hours” at the Ocoee location, and these are held every third Tuesday from 5-8 pm.  Each month a different rescue group is featured, and all proceeds from the event benefit that group.

They also feed a cat named Harry, a feral cat that lived in the neighborhood for several years before they were able to catch and neuter him.  Harry refused to be tamed, so he was released but shows up at Pookie’s every night for dinner.  Obviously, a feline with great taste!

Bow Wow Barkery Treat
Written By:  Ellen Manning

Pookie’s Pet Nutrition-Winter Park
1980 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, Fl 32789

Pookie’s Pet Nutrition-Ocoee
2462 Maguire Road
Ocoee, Fl 34761

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