Jenna Wilson was just 24 years old when she opened the first of three of her Patton Avenue Pet Company stores in Asheville five years ago.
A recent college graduate with a degree in animal science, Wilson said she wanted to live in Asheville and use her background in animals and pets.
“I decided if I can’t find a job, I will make one,” she said.
Before launching a pet supply store, Wilson did quite a bit of market research, which included conducting surveys at a local dog park.
After getting a loan to finance her enterprise, Wilson opened her initial store in West Asheville in 2011.
“I had to wing it—had to learn everything,” Wilson said.
However, Wilson did have a background in the retail business on which she relied. When she was 14 years old, she began working at a pet store in New York. And since that time, Wilson has continued working in retail stores, most of which sold pet supplies.
“This industry has always been my thing,” she said.
As a pet supply store owner, Wilson is dedicated to selling high-end, nutritious pet foods.
“Our focus is on healthy, biologically appropriate foods,” she said. “We really focus on healthy food, and help people find solutions.”
Although Wilson and her staff do not give health advice to customers about their pets, they do help them find better foods, she said.
In selecting pet foods, Wilson says she takes a careful look at ingredients of various brands.
“I just read the ingredients,” she said. “Our customers can trust that we have done the research.”
“The most important thing is to sleep well at night,” Wilson says of the selections she makes for pet foods.
Among brands offered at Wilson’s three stores are Orijen, Acana, Nutrisource and Fromm. Patton Avenue Pet Company also sells raw foods, which Wilson said can be beneficial to dogs and cats, which are basically carnivores.
“Feeding healthy, biologically appropriate food is the easiest way to keep your pet healthy and keep them alive for longer, and doesn’t have to break the bank. We are always here to help you find the best option for your pet and your wallet,” Wilson said.
In addition to a variety of pet foods, Wilson’s stores offer an extensive selection of supplies such as leashes, harnesses, toys, beds, bowls, sweaters, coats and more.
“All of our supplies are durable and well-made,” Wilson said.
Speaking of her success as a young entrepreneur, Wilson said that she found a ready market for pet supplies in the burgeoning Asheville area. As demand increased after launching her pet store in West Asheville in 2011, Wilson opened a second store in downtown Asheville in 2014 and a third store in the Biltmore area last year.
“The pet industry is recession proof,” she said.
Wilson shares her business success with others, donating pet foods to area shelters. Patton Avenue Pet Company recently donated 3,000 pounds of pet food to Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue and will be donating another 1,080 pounds to Friends 2 Ferals.
And she brings her love of pets into her home where she cares for four dogs, two cats, and two turtles. Recently married, Wilson and her husband went to Africa on their honeymoon where they saw an astounding variety of wildlife.
By Sandra Barnes