Dexter’s Deli, our local health food store for dogs and cats, opened its door in July, 1996. Twenty years later Dexter’s Del Mar has birthed Dexter’s Carlsbad and Dexter’s North Park, employing over 19 staff members – five core staffers have over ten years of service. More than a retail shop, it is a runaway’s haven – loyal canine customers seeking its treasures lovingly given by its remarkable staff.
Tori Rosay, Dexter’s owner designed a business model for her inaugural store – one of the first of ten stores in the country that started a movement emphasizing the care for pets with natural products and high quality, fresh foods. She derived her entrepreneurial passion from her business background in publishing, work history in the field of nutrition and lifestyle medicine and caring for her dog, Teddy who suffered with debilitating allergies. Living in St. Louis, the home of Purina, she knew first hand what the press had uncovered about the substandard waste by-products found in their pet foods. Tori networked with holistic veterinarians and other pioneers in the pet health food industry to assemble her product choices. At the outset Tori was confronted with curious customers who saw her store as cute and would wish her well saying “we hope you make it.”
Dexter’s has an endearing image with its store’s mascot and namesake, a Boston-Staffordshire Terrier who was adopted by Tori from the St. Louis SPCA. Having failed two previous adoptions, Dexter found his life’s work as the store’s official well-wisher living quite well himself on a raw fresh diet until age 17.
In full disclosure, I am a customer of 20 years. After attending several of Tori’s in-store seminars with nutrition guest speakers, I learned how to make from scratch a fresh raw diet for my abandoned dog who came with skin allergies and an appetite that was not satisfied by the empty calories of corn-based kibbles. Very soon I noticed more and more of my neighbors in Dexter’s, and the wall of refrigerators that stocked the frozen meats kept growing. The demand accelerated with the breadth of our community’s understanding and acceptance about the fundamental elements of preventive pet health care – and nutrition is a large component.
Now Dexter’s has expanded its Del Mar locale as much as it can – pushing walls sideways and backwards to make room for the diversity of high quality products – over 40 different brands of dog and cat foods. Dexter’s specialty is independent brands, many of which come from Canada; where pet food manufacturing regulations are stricter and have not been mass-marketed into large box retailers. There is also Dexter’s Deli own brand of locally made raw food and fresh baked treats.
Aside from the retail functions, Dexter’s has become a social club – a lively place to learn from long-time staff and to commune with Del Mar neighbors who are served and satisfied with this enduring community business.
Happy 20th Anniversary Dexter’s.