Rob Hansen opened the first Woodlands Pet Food & Treats in Mill Valley’s Strawberry Village in 2006. Despite what would seem to most, a sketchy start — using just his credit cards, a home equity line of credit and a passion for pets — his venture continues to succeed.
Hansen’s fourth store just completed its first full week of business at Pacheco Plaza in southern Novato. Located at 474 Ignacio Blvd., the store now occupies the space of a former video store right next door to Paradise Foods.
The Woodlands name is not new to Marin. Hansen’s wife and brother-in-law operate Woodlands Market in Kentfield. The pet food business is a separate entity, though Hansen says they share the same values and are both family-owned Marin businesses.
“Woodlands Pet is the four-legged version of Woodlands Market," he said. "We have healthy food and top quality accessories and supplies for the rest of the family.”
The momentum is really mounting for Hansen. In October, Woodlands opened at the former site of Western Sports Shop at 902 Third St. in downtown San Rafael. Hansen already was in lease negotiations for the new Novato location, but couldn't pass up the San Rafael opportunity.
Hansen said it gives him great pleasure to open a store in Novato because it is the town that brought him to the Bay Area for a job almost 20 years ago. Although appreciating his managerial experiences as a software executive, he looked forward to being free of the meddling aspects of venture capitalists and tech world boardrooms.
In some ways Hansen has come full circle, recalling that animals have always been an integral part of his life.
“When I was 8 years old I got my first horse and joined a local riding group," he said. "From age 9 to 18 I was very active in 4-H, which included raising several Guide Dogs puppies — an experience that allowed me to realize what a loving and important role dogs play in our lives.”
Pacheco Plaza had just the right mix of magic where Hansen could again see success having merged his business skills with his love for animals. He found that the center was transforming into a charming lifestyle center and thought Woodlands was an ideal fit.
“Pets are such an important part of the Novato lifestyle that we knew we had to be here," Hansen said. "And of course, Pacheco Plaza is very conveniently located to all Novato.”
The new store is much larger than your typical independent pet store. Aside from offering a large selection of quality treats, toys, supplies and foods that just won’t fit into other stores there is also a self-service pet washing station. Through the grand opening on Feb. 2-3, you can wash your dog for FREE. (It's normally $15.)
“It’s like a car wash for your dog," Hansen said. "We provide everything you need, including warm water, your choice of natural Earthbath shampoo injected right into the hose.”
The best part is that when you are done, you walk out and Woodlands cleans up the mess.
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