In this edition of Perspectives, our look at trending businesses in Louisville, we’re speaking with Kim Reece, the owner and founder of Barkstown Road. Kim’s pet supply boutique is one of the businesses that has helped make The Highlands a unique, funky and cool place to live and shop over the past five years.
They used to be down near restaurants like Yang Kee Noodle and Homemade Pie and Ice Cream by Baxter Avenue. A year and a half after opening, they moved down to a more retail-oriented location at 2005 Bonnycastle, around the corner from Doo Wop Shop and Leatherhead. “It made sense because The Highlands is a long-established neighborhood of people who support local businesses, a shopping destination that attracts people from all over town,” Reece acknowledges.
A year ago, another Barkstown Road boutique opened at 2005 Frankfort Avenue in Clifton — in the same building as a holistic vet. “Frankfort Avenue is a walkable part of town that has a lot of empty nesters, people who don’t have kids yet, or people who aren’t planning to have kids, where their dogs kind of are their kids,” Reece says. What could be better for a pet retailer than people who take care of their critters like their children?
Unlike other pet shops, the Barkstown Road boutique is smaller, locally owned and operated, and offers more specialty items you can’t necessarily find at the larger stores here in Louisville. For instance, Holistic Vet raw foods out of the freezer is one of the trending lines shoppers won’t find at big box stores.
“That’s one of my favorite things we carry is more biologically appropriate foods, whether it’s a dry food, a dehydrated food, or a frozen raw food,” Reece explains. “Dogs and cats both still have components in their bodies that allow them to break down raw meat. They have enzymes in their saliva to help break down raw meat. Their stomachs are more acidic than ours. Their digestive tracts are shorter. Biologically, they’re still made to break down raw meat.” In addition to the raw foods, they also carry convenient dry foods that are grain-free, low-carb, and made with meat as the main ingredients.
In addition to food, Barkstown Road also carries durable dog toys and catnip mice. You’ll find a big chew corner and a freeze-dried raw bar. “You can pick up things for your dog to gnaw on and keep them happy and busy and keep their teeth clean. Hopefully, leave you alone for a little bit so you can have some peace and quiet,” says Reece.
It’s hard not to notice that the dogs coming into Barkstown Road have shiny coats, good-looking teeth, healthy weights, and happy dispositions. “We have a couple customers whose dogs are currently being treated for cancer,” Reece adds. “Their vets initially, about a year ago, gave these dogs like two months to live. They switched from dry food diets to one of our commercially-prepared raw food diets and incorporated some of our raw goat’s milk as well. Now, a year later, they’re alive and well. You would never know they’re fighting cancer.” Reece is not a vet by trade, but she says the research she’s done and the experiences of the customers she interacts with is compelling.