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Woman Leaves The Corporate World And Opens Million Dollar Whole Foods Dog Barkery

Things change as we get older. We get wiser, we learn that if something isn't making us happy it never will. We teach ourselves to let go and take risks. But it's still a surprise when someone actually does a 360 on a career switch! Although a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found "Late-career job changes have become more common over the past several decades at the same time that working longer has become more necessary, the rise in job-changing appears to be largely voluntary, with workers likely moving to jobs that they consider better."

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    Lucky for us, Marsha Lindsey is one of those people. After she retired from a career as a corporate lobbyist in Dallas she did a major career change. At the age of 54, she opened Lucky Dog Barkery in a trendy shopping center.

    The Lucky Dog Barkery is what you would call…the Whole Foods for dogs. The Bakery is filled with high-end pet food such as; bison, sardines, turkey, alongside dog toys and pet clothing!

    Now this Barkery has been in business for the past 12 years! "We've got good quality people coming through the door," Lindsey said, and that has boosted traffic to the stores around her. Lindsey opened the story although she knew nothing about retail.

    But after Lindsey left her corporate job, a friend suggested she open a store for dogs. "I was doing consulting, found myself dressed up in airports, it wasn't much fun." But a dog store? "We've always had dogs, love dogs, but I'd never really dreamed of owning a retail store," she said. Lindsey did some research and convinced herself to move forward. "It's a very strong industry; it survives recessions." And she wasn't wrong. The pet food market is still projected to grow and natural pet food makes up over 25 percent of the market.


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    Lindsey started Lucky Dog Barkery with $200,000. She struggled to put the money together, pulling out of her retirement fund. Even her financial advisor disapproved! "He thought that I had maybe lost my mind."

    But when the store opened in 2005, well let's just state the obvious, it was a HIT! "I had customers that literally would look in a box that I hadn't even unpacked and wanted to buy things, and I'm like, 'Well, I don't have this priced yet.'" One thing that that may have made Lindsey's store such a success may have been that she was more focused on the look and feel of the store, rather than the money part. She wanted the store to have a certain feel, and certain look. She decided to go back in time and towards the old-fashioned hardware store style. By organizing dog toys in old nail bins that moved on wheels, to having a coke machine from the 1950's, this place was a real recreation of her own past. The setup was made to recreate the feeling she used to get when she would visit her uncle's all-in-one gas station in a small Oklahoma town where she grew up. Stating, "When I would go back there I just felt at home. It was just the center of everything."


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    So from start to still going, it seems her financial advisor has had to apologze for calling Lindsey crazy because her dream is very successful! First full-year revenues for Lucky Dog Barkery in 2006 were $350,000, and "Last year we did $1.6 million." Lindsey has taken no outside investment. Now if that isn't an accomplishment, we don't know what is!

    She credits hiring a small staff that really knew the products, and her own work getting to know the manufacturers. "I think we lucked out in that we were successful quickly […] What we try to do is teach people how to read an ingredient panel, There's a lot of really poor products out there." 

    So the bigger question is... Is it a store just for dogs? Unfortunately, it is. Why? Well, when the Barkery opened Lindsey had in fact carried a few cat products, and it was quite a few. However, a particular incident determined that the main focus will just be on dogs. "I had a cat customer come in that was not happy with the amount of inventory I had,"Lindsey said. "She sort of yelled at me. ... That's when I said, 'Ya know what? We're just going to focus on dogs.'"


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    Forbes reports that nearly one in three entrepreneurs in America is between the ages of 55 and 64. Now that's surprising!

    Lindsey however, never thought of herself as an entrepreneur. But, "Working for a large corporation, I found myself always wanting a new job, and I liked having a job that no one had had before, that I had to create," she said. "I actually went to some training, and they said the farther you can be from corporate headquarters, the better off you'll always be." If that isn't a sign we don't know what is!


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    Lindsey also has no future plans of franchising her store. She is a strong believer that part of her success is because of the customers she regularly sees behind the register. Feeling that if she franchises she will become disconnected with the business. The Barkey doesn't have deals nor an actual website. They do have a Facebook page and Instagram account and find that it is the best way to stay connected and get better results. Also they use the word-of-mouth method for marketing!

    We just have to say we are so glad that Lindsey went for it and created the Lucky Dog Barkery. Not only is it as far away from the typical corporate world, it's just what we need!

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