Paul and Terri Karlsson are set to expand their investment in downtown Knoxville. In what has to be seen as a vote of confidence in the retail environment downtown, the couple who own The Tree and Vine, have decided to lease the space recently vacated by Southland Lakefront and Mountain Properties at 429 Union Avenue. I recently profiled Paul and Terri and I must say the new venture continues their somewhat unpredictable – but highly successful – retail history. I spoke to Terri about the latest venture.
The new business will be called CitiFid-O and will provide “premium pet provisions for dogs and cats,” including “human-grade food in the form of bulk treats and specialty items displayed in a bakery case.” I’m assuming “human-grade” means we could eat it to, which is good to know in case I get in a bind for a snack. The manager of the Asheville Tree and Vine, Danielle, as it turns out is a pastry chef and she will be making the “doggie delicacies.”
One of the concerns of downtown residents is often that frills are available, while basic supplies of daily living require climbing in a car and driving. When it comes to our animal friends, downtown is downright confusing: On the one hand we sometimes seem to have as many pets as humans, but on the other, there is very little in the way of supplies. Outside perhaps scarves and an occasional leash, I’ve not seen much else.
Terri and Paul noticed that, too. So their store will not only have treats, but they will also carry a couple of brands of high quality dog and cat food. In addition, you’ll be able to get “toys, leashes, harnesses, training aides, bandannas, grooming products, pet outerwear, bed, couch and car covers, unique scratching posts and cat toys. Water vests and dog accessories for outdoorsy people and hikers. Cool bowls and water fountains for dogs and cats.” So, there are your necessities.
Terri and Paul are also known for giving back to their communities and she says they will also be working with rescue groups by hosting adoption fairs on Saturdays with the first one likely to come at the first Market Square Farmers’ Market in May. They also plan to work with area vets to have “Talk to the Vet” day – free consultations about issues concerning your pets.” They also hope to coordinate with area mobile pet grooming services to bring that support to downtown pet owners on a more consistent basis.
Right now the plan is to open around the second week in April, but there will be a flurry of activity in the meantime. In mid-March Terri and Paul will attend the Global Pet Expo in Orlando in a quest for the latest and best products. They are currently accepting suggestions for products and brands to carry as well as resumes from interested potential employees. You may send either directly to Terri at Terri@CitiFid-O.com.
In the meantime, if you are a pet owner downtown, you’ll likely run into them at a couple of high-profile events. They will be at Mardi Growl next weekend hand out business cards – and, hopefully (if they are ready in time) treat samples. They will also have a booth at the Biscuit Festival in a few weeks with doggie biscuits.
They anticipate being open every day with extensive hours and plan to hire three or four people to operate the store. Terri’s already imagining the store front which she plans to include, “a living room sort of look in the big front window with faux pets and cool stuff.” It should be interesting.
This is the kind of business that prompts people – several did as she told them the news this weekend – to ask, “Why hasn’t someone already done this downtown?” It’s a good question. There are so many other kinds of businesses that it would seem downtown is ready for, but no one has taken the step to make it happen. Even in the pet world, there is still room for more retail. We could use a downtown groomer, kennel, vet and dog-sitting and dog-walking service. Anybody?
In the meantime, Paul and Terri are taking a great first step in that direction. Contact them with those suggestions and look for them at Mardi Growl this coming weekend.