Even as a child, Krista Schmidt dreamed of being her own boss — she just didn't know how to make it happen.
Years later, she and husband Keenan Atkinson used a holistic diet to solve digestive problems for their Rhodesian ridgeback dogs, Gentleman Jack Daniels and Ellie. That's when Schmidt realized her opportunity. The couple started St. Petersbark, a line of homemade dog treats, but the store quickly evolved into a local hot spot for pet owners who were looking for a naturally healthy lifestyle for their four-legged friends.
Part of the couple's mission in opening the St. Petersburg store was to disprove the misconception that to feed animals a holistic diet, owners need to spend a lot more on food. St. Petersbark carries a number of American and Canadian brands that are free of soy, corn and gluten. Many customers opt for a brand like Barxx, which offers frozen raw food bags ($8.50) made in St. Petersburg for a clean protein diet. Others prefer a freeze-dried option ($10.99), so there's no thawing needed.
For cats, some suggested products are organically grown catnip ($4.79), and wild salmon or Alaskan pollock oil ($9.99) to be mixed into their food to improve their skin and coat.
The store also offers toys and accessories. An adventure first-aid kit ($23) helps both human and dog when taking on the outdoors. Cats and dogs can use a cooling pad ($61) in summer, and a locally poured soy candle called the Eliminati ($15) removes pet odor from the house as it burns.
To foster a tight community, the store also offers free monthly educational seminars and low-cost nail trims and obedience training.