“It all began in 1993. Late one evening I had to rush my dog, CJ, to my good friend, Veterinarian Dean Bolinger. After examining CJ, Dean asked me what I was feeding CJ. I remember boldly stating, “Purina Dog Chow…you know, with the red and white checkered squares on the bag!” I was sure it was the best. Dean very quickly pointed out to me that it was far from the best food you could feed your pet. He went on to say that I would never be able to feed CJ any dog food that I could buy in a grocery store again. I was shocked! I honestly had no idea that any other kinds of dog and cat foods existed. Dean gave me my first lesson on pet nutrition and sent me to the local feed store to buy premium pet food called ProPlan. CJ’s health and coat improved greatly on the new food, but I found myself dreading the monthly trips to the feed store. It was dirty and smelled like a barn. Worse yet though, it inevitably involved talking to a condescending tobacco-chewing cowboy who addressed me as “little lady”.

I filled my garage with premium dog food and I decided that my new career goal would entail educating the public and helping our four-legged friends live longer, healthier lives.

Back then, the premium pet foods on the market included Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba, and of course let’s not forget ProPlan. I began to read and filter the main factors that go into a premium pet food. Without a lot of savings in the bank or any real knowledge of the industry I decided to start out small. Bend Pet Express would be a delivery service for customers living in Bend. It was easy, reliable and very convenient for the consumer. Just 3 months into the venture, sales had picked up so quickly that I needed more space for a growing inventory, and a place for customers to pick up their pets’ food if they did not want it delivered; so I had to move BPE out of my garage and into a small warehouse.

Six months later we opened our first retail store in the town of Sisters. It was there that I really learned to enjoy spending time with each customer, one on one, helping them find the perfect food solution for their dog or cat. As time went on, word of mouth began to bring many new customers to the store. We were developing a reputation at BPE for being very helpful and knowledgeable about our products. It is this reputation and the respect of the customers and community that has allowed Bend Pet Express to grow and prosper.

One year later, the Bend warehouse and delivery service needed to be moved to a new location that included a small retail space. We continued to nurture our reputation for great customer service and knowledge, and we found that we could actually survive against the big box pet stores that were moving into the area. As Bend has grown we have grown with it. The Westside store was added in 2001 and then the new Eastside store in 2003. Now we strive not just to survive, but to compete with the chain stores.”

-Julie Hunter