David Barnes, who owns the Bon Shopping Center with his wife, Nancy, likes to see the historic center filled with tenants.
So when the owner of Burghard Floral retired and closed the business this year after decades at the center, Barnes didn’t wait around for a new retailer to move in. Instead, he came up with his own idea for a business to occupy the spot — and recruited son Scott Barnes to start it.
The new business, Bon Pet Supply, opened in October; a grand opening is set for Saturday.
The pet supply industry has been a growth industry, David Barnes said. And the new shop — like others in the center — seems to fill a neighborhood need, he added.
Scott Barnes had worked in retail before, including helping his dad open the Ace Hardware store at the Bon Shopping Center in 1984; brother Darek and the Barnes family now own four Ace Hardware stores in Colorado Springs. But pet supplies — particularly the growing number of pet food manufacturers and a trend of more natural and holistic foods — was a new area for him.
“Twenty years ago, there wasn’t the selection of foods that there is now,” Scott Barnes said. He attended SuperZoo, the National Show for Pet Retailers, in Las Vegas in September and was astounded by all the different brands.
“That was the biggest thing, really learning the industry and what the wave is,” he said. He got a big assist, he added, from Amanda Morton, who has experience in the industry and was hired as store manager.
“She’s so great with our customers, and so knowledgeable on foods,” Scott Barnes said.
In addition to pet food and treats, the new store carries dog and cat collars and other accessories, along with “a light selection” of items for other small indoor pets and birds. The 1,800-square-foot shop faces competition ranging from major retailers such as PetsMart to smaller ones already established in the Springs, Scott Barnes said. But, he said, “We felt that with this little community here and how loyal they are to this Bon Shopping Center that it would still work.”
The Bon Shopping Center, at the north end of Wahsatch Avenue, opened in 1953 and is believed to be Colorado Springs’ first strip mall; David and Nancy Barnes bought it a dozen or so years ago. Anchored by Safeway on one end and a branch of Ent Federal Credit Union on the other, the center includes a pharmacy, a barber, a fitness center, a coffee shop and other businesses to serve the neighborhood.
With the opening of Bon Pet Supply, the shopping center is again at 100 percent occupancy — a typical state for the center, David Barnes said. That’s an enviable figure, considering that the Pikes Peak region’s commercial real estate market, including retail, continues to struggle with high vacancy rates.
“There’s no real secret to it, other than trying to be fair on the rent side of things,” David Barnes said.