Ann Straub and her golden husky, Lucas, go everywhere together, including her new business—The Green Barn Whole Animal Nutrition.
Together with Julia Rihn, Straub opened the shop specializing in organic pet food, nutritional supplements, toys and more in the former Mary Ann’s Classy Lady Boutique along North Main Street in Zelienople in December.
The business also offers self-serve dog wash stations and full grooming services using holistic products sold in the store.
Straub, a former immunology researcher who worked for the University of Pittsburgh, said every product in The Green Barn has been studied and examined to make sure they are safe and healthy for pets. All items, and their ingredients, also are made in the United States or Canada.
“We like to say we’ve done people’s homework for them,” Rihn added.
Sticking close to his owner’s side, Lucas, the store’s mascot, often greets customer as they come in the door.
Lucas, who gently sniffs incoming customers of both the two and four-legged variety, is the inspiration behind the business. After all, his devotion to Straub is what led her to open The Green Barn in the first place.
Straub, of Zelienople, said Lucas suffers from severe separation anxiety.
When his owner went off to work, Lucas would nervously chew his way through everything in sight. Placing Lucas in a doggie daycare didn’t do much to ease the problem either, but Straub said the final straw came when her pooch escaped the house and tried to follow her to work in Oakland.
Police later found him heading south on Interstate 79, Straub said.
Frustrated, Straub began to search for a new way to make a living.
“I just realized I was going to have to find something that worked for him,” she said.
A longtime dog trainer with a background in retail and interior design, Rihn, who met Straub when both worked at a kennel, combined her knowledge with Straub’s research skills to open the pet store.
Rihn is behind the shop’s bright green and black décor. Rihn and Straub also scoured building supply stores and eBay for castoffs that were repurposed as fixtures in the store, including shelving made out of the John Deere crates. As the store’s name suggests, The Green Barn tries to be as eco-friendly as possible.
“The theme is reuse and recycle,” Rihn said.
Applying her reseach background, Straub, who studied up on pet foods, also noted all dog and cat products in the store have been both approved by The Whole Dog Journal and awarded 4 or 5 stars by Dog Food Advisor.
“I wanted to weed out the ones that weren’t great,” she said of finding the right products for the business.
A Welcome Start
Since it opened a little more than a month ago, The Green Barn has been embraced by the Zelienople community, Rihn said.
“I just can’t get over how nice the people in Zelie are,” she said. “It’s almost overwhelming how welcoming they’ve been.”
Lucas also is a fan of the new business.
With her sidekick now accompanying her to work every day, Straub said she no longer has to worry about what Lucas is up to when she’s not around.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s such a stress reliever for me.”
The Green Barn will hold a grand opening from 10 to 8 p.m. Feb. 23 with food, drink and special discounts. Throughout February, new clients also will receive $10 off grooming appointments.
In the future, the owners said they plan to offer chiropractor services, reiki and ortho-bionomy, an osteopathic based form of body therapy that relieves stress, injuries or other pains, at the business.
To check out The Green Barn’s website, click here.
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