There have been big changes since Patrick Holton took ownership of the historic Mint Hill Woof ‘n Hoof.
“There’s been a major transformation here,” says Holton, gesturing to the interior’s freshly painted walls, bright lights and spacious aisles. “It’s been totally remodeled.”
Wider aisles and more open space may not seem like much, but for a store that encourages four-legged companions, it is. “Your dogs are welcome here,” says Holton. The store even hosts a daily “Yappy Hour” at the “Biscuit Bar,” another recent addition located in the front of the store. Woof ‘n Hoof also partners with different local rescues like PEAR and Rover’s Rescue to host frequent adoption events. The newly remodeled space allows for the store to move adoption events like last Saturday’s indoors when the weather is bad. “We’re small, but we pack a lot in here!” affirms Holton.
You’ll see a lot more “woof” – and other small animal supplies – than “hoof” at the Woof ‘n Hoof these days. “We actually donated a big chunk of the horse tack and equestrian supplies to a local rescue,” says Holton. The store does still have a small section of horse supplies, but based on customer feedback, Holton has limited equine offerings and expanded his selection for dogs, cats and other small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.
“We’re getting new customers in every week, customers that have been in Mint Hill twenty years that never came in because they thought it was just for horses,” says Holton. “But once we get people into the door, i think they realize ‘Oh, ok, I can get everything here!’ Most people don’t have just a dog. They have a dog, a cat, a guinea pig, they may have chickens now. We’re even looking to expand into aquatics and reptiles soon because there’s not really a spot around here to get that kind of thing.”
One of Holton’s priorities has been bringing in more high-quality, top-tier foods that aren’t available in mainstream stores. Two recent additions for dogs are Acana from Champion Foods and Nutrisource. He also recently added Primal, a fresh frozen option for dogs and cats. “There’s a stigma that small independent businesses are going to be more expensive, and we’re not,” says Holton. “I think a lot of customers are figuring out very quickly that a lot of the prices are cheaper than your big box stores.”
Holton also recently extended the Woof ‘n Hoof’s hours to 7:00 pm on weekdays. “We used to close at 6:00, and we’d get calls, ‘Hey can you stay a couple minutes?’” says Holton. The extended hours began as a temporary trial, but they were so successful, Holton decided to make them permanent. Woof ‘n Hoof also offers 24 hour product pick up. People who work a swing shift, for example, but want to shop local can place an order over the phone and pick it up anytime from one of the lockers on the front porch.
One thing hasn’t changed at the Woof ‘n Hoof: Holton’s passion for serving the Mint Hill community. “I love meeting everybody in the community,” says Holton. “I like when I go to the grocery store and see customers! Maybe it’s somebody who comes in here and is having a problem and I recommend a certain food to them and they say, ‘Hey, that food’s working great.’ That’s satisfying to me that we’re helping them out.”
Holton solidified his position in the Mint Hill business community by joining the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce in January. “I like the direction the Chamber is going,” says Holton. “It’s definitely getting a lot more local businesses involved together in the community, and I want to be a part of that.”
Ultimately, the Woof ‘n Hoof has been a labor of love for Holton. “Owning the business has been scary,” he says, “but the community has been great to us, and hopefully we’ve been great to the community as well.”