Krista and Tim Bush, owners of Chow Down Pet Supplies, were faced with a daunting and business-changing question a year ago.
Their lease at the corner of the corner of West Main Street and South Selig Aveenue was about to expire; renewal was an option. Their popular business had continued to steadily grow since they opened in November 2012 and they were cramped for space. Supplies had to be offloaded into the middle of the store, straining customer services.
Krista Bush said they wanted to do two things — increase retail and service space and stay downtown. When the former Montrose Daily Press building at 535 N. First St. was presented to them, an entire new set of challenges arose: asbestos abatement in the older half of the building which dates to 1936, and the removal of an ink tank that was installed in 1998.
While a couple of dance and karate studios had come and gone in the old building, it remained dark, dingy with deteriorating floors. The basement was dank and foreboding. Worst of all, there was virtually no natural light, the windows having been bricked up, some say 40 years ago.
On Sept. 1, 2020, the Montrose City Council unanimously passed a business incentives package for Chow Down to expedite its relocation and boost downtown retail business. The $100,000 included $86,000 for asbestos abatement and $14,000 to remove the ink tank. Renovation expense came in at more than $1 million, according to city council minutes. Mark Keep was the general contractor for the project.
Today, with a sweeping renovation inside and out, it is a spectacular addition to downtown Montrose. There’s a completely new storefront and awnings and it’s flooded with natural light, the windows restored. The large overhead garage door, once where newsprint was unloaded, is the store’s welcome sign.
Chow Down opened there May 17, having moved the whole shebang a day earlier.
The new location’s square footage almost doubles Chow Down’s former business footprint.
“I’m breathing again,” said Krista Bush last week. “The building and what we had to do with it to relocate was beyond our realm at first, at least for me.”
The Bushes also have stores in Grand Junction, Fruita and Pagosa Springs. Their first entry into pet care was a store in Evergreen, which they continue to own and operate. They are partners in the stores with family and friends.
The store offers head to tail care for pets, with nutrition and one-on-one service as priorities.
“We give customers a personal touch. We often know their dog’s name,” said Bush. “They can tell we have experience in dealing with pets and their nutrition needs.”
Bush noted that nutrition usually makes a big difference in a pet’s quality of life. “We help our customers find the right food for their pets within their budget,” she said.
There are 18 employees at Chow Down. The managers are KJ Kauzlarich and Sarah Bathen. There are grooming stations and do-it-yourself dog wash areas. There’s a large variety of foods, snacks, toys, attire, places for the pets to rest and other essentials. There are puppy training and dog sitting services available. The Bushes own three dogs – Murphy, Moos and Jazz. A cat, Mikey, shares an office with Bush.
Tim and Krista Bush met in 2008. They eloped 11 months later. They were both working at Vail resorts. Krista was a Canadian citizen, growing up near Toronto. She became a U.S. citizen last year during the pandemic.
Chow Down has become active in community events and nonprofits. The Bushes through their business have donated services and gift baskets and money for sponsorships.
“The community supported us when we opened and continue to do so. We want to support our town,” said Krista Bush.
A grand opening event is planned for later in the summer.
Stephen Woody is a retired newspaper publisher who worked in that capacity both in Wyoming and at the Montrose Daily Press.