After a dog food recall that was responsible for hundreds of deaths in 2007, Mark Boonark and Andrew Kim made it their mission to make a difference in the pet industry. They wanted to create a healthy store for dogs stocked only with food they’d feed their own furry friends.
So, in 2008 they launched their first Healthy Spot location in Santa Monica. Fast-forward to today, the duo have opened five more stores — and have remained true to their mission to feed pups the best of the best.
“We want people to understand quality and standards of ingredients, decipher between fact and marketing, realize sourcing and farming, and of course, ultimately understand how that affects their pets’ health and longevity,” says Boonark.
Stock full of high-quality brands like Primal, Honest Kitchen, Ziwipeak and Grandma Lucy’s the stores have something for every pooch. “Whereas most stores will carry healthy products along with inferior products we set a much higher standard and choose not to create an environment that can misguide our customer,” Boonark says.
And, along with their thoroughly researched food collection, Healthy Spot boasts high-end grooming products, super cute pet clothes, plush beds, blankets and toys.
In addition to their snazzy store, Healthy Spot is known for its cutting-edge grooming salon. Their Signature Spa Treatment ($40-$75) includes a bath, brush and drying, ear cleaning, blueberry facial and moisturizing paw rub. We especially love their add on treatments. Think: oatmeal treatments ($12), and a deluxe package that includes a prim rose oil shampoo, calming tonic to soothe nerves, teeth brushing and nail grinding ($21).
We were lucky enough to score an appointment with head groomer Patricia Sugihara at Healthy Spot’s spacious Studio City location.
“With grooming, we really focus on the safety of dogs,” Sugihara tells us. “We’re here to keep dogs and owners healthy, but the most important thing is that you know your dog is going to be treated well and be safe in our care. Our motto is, ‘safety and quality before speed.’”
We shadowed Sugihara while she spruced up our pup, Petey, and learned more about her craft. As an award-winning groomer (she’s won over a dozen awards!), Sugihara explains how Healthy Spot’s training differs from other salons.
“Instead of a one month crash course, Healthy Spot trains all of their groomers through a one-on-one apprenticeship.” This includes spending six months to a year learning how to wash and brush a dog, with the top bathers moving on to go through the program, which lasts an additional six to eight months. “It’s not like a classroom setting where you’re watching videos, either. You’re truly learning the art of scissoring, compassionate dog handling, and, of course, safety training,” she adds.
This was apparent to us when Petey became irritated while getting his nails trimmed. Tricia scooped him up, held him in her arms, and eased him into it while she walked him around the salon. He was instantly comfortable, and didn’t seem to mind the trimming a bit.
Sugihara goes on to tell us how proud she is of her team, explaining, “In the outside world of grooming, groomers learn bad habits, because they’re not trained properly. Many of my groomers have started from the bottom and now compete internationally. The Healthy Spot team as a whole affects so many lives every day – it’s amazing.”
If you’re looking to have your pup’s teeth cleaned, Healthy Spot works with Los Angeles-based vet Dr. Thomas, on a monthly basis. Dr. Thomas and his team get rid of calcified tartar, kill germs and polish the teeth – all inside Healthy Spot. And, in most dogs, the process does not require anesthesia. This service will set you back $135 bones and includes a general wellness exam from the veterinarian.
The facility also offers a small dog daycare. With a high human to dog ratio, it allows for more control of the environment and more intimate care of the pets. Unlike most daycares, they also take the dogs out for walks on a regular basis throughout the day. Opt for a half-day ($30), full day ($45), or purchase in advance for discounted packages.
With special events like yappy hour and doggie yoga where dog owners can bring their pups to play while they socialize with other dog owners, Healthy Spot is all about connecting passionate pet owners.
Customers also have the option to round up their purchase every time they shop to make a contribution to pets in need, and groomers donate their time to groom rescue animals, so they’re ready for adoption. Some of the organizations they work with include LA Love and Leashes, Bill Foundation, Wags and Walks, NKLA, and Best Friends Animal Society. And, with community-based efforts like parades and events, Healthy Spot has helped give endless rescue dogs a place to call home.
According to Sugihara, customers come back “because they love their dogs and want the best for them. They want their dogs to be healthy, and they want to be able to trust their groomers. For our clients, it’s not about how much things cost, it’s about quality.” And that quality is apparent in each and every dog this incredible team works on. Up next for the team is a trip to the Super Zoo competition in Las Vegas. They’ll be competing against groomers around the world to see just how they stack up. And with skills like this, we have a feeling they’ll do pretty well.
Good luck, guys, and thanks again for having us!