I’d like to share in more detail the story of Healthy Hound Inc.’s start. My company (and store) was started on a shoestring budget. If we didn’t have cash for something, we didn’t get it. That was true from fixtures to inventory. I operated that way for over seven years. We grew as we could afford to, increasing our inventory levels and square footage when finances allowed. It was easy to do in the beginning. Our focus was on important things like paying rent and electricity. It would be months after we opened before I could draw a paycheck, a few years before I drew a sustaining salary. It was easy to spend only what we could afford.
I am grateful God didn’t make the store successful sooner or we might not have made it through the recession. Because we didn’t carry debt, I was able to keep my employees in their jobs as the Dow dropped into the 6000’s. It wasn’t a comfortable time. I took a big pay cut during the time to pay my employees. Knowing I was fortunate to have a great group of people working for me, I felt a responsibility to make sure they were taken care of. I certainly didn’t want to lose anyone or impair an employee’s ability to make ends meet financially.
Throughout the 10-plus years I owned my company, I had the privilege to work with extraordinary people. My employees took care of the stores the way I would, craved knowledge for the sake of their jobs, often reading up on work-related topics on their free time, took initiative with merchandising and new product acquisitions. Several of these folks were teenagers in high school or college. They were some motivated individuals!! I tried very hard to take care of them in the way they deserved, though I sometimes fell short.
In the end starting small, growing slowly and recognizing the value of my employees made the company successful while enriching the lives of the people working for me and the customers we served. It’s an approach I highly recommend. ~ R