Frequently Asked Questions About Mud Bay

Lars Wulff has worked for Mud Bay since 1989 and, along with his sister Marisa Wulff, is one of our company’s two Co-CEO’s. Below you’ll find Lars’ responses to a few commonly asked inquiries about Mud Bay.

Why is your company named Mud Bay?

Mud Bay is one of the three southernmost arms of Puget Sound. Our first store was located outside Olympia, on the hill that rises to the east of the lower end of Mud Bay. The original store’s address was 3644 Mud Bay Road. We started doing business there in 1988, and we named our company after our original home. Our first store outgrew its original storefront, so we moved it into a larger building in 2002. It’s now closer to the center of Olympia’s west side, at 2410 Harrison Avenue.

Why do some people call your company Mud Bay Granary?

Mud Bay--and its original Mud Bay Road home--have had quite a few names during the past eighty years. To the best of our knowledge, the first commercial enterprise at 3644 Mud Bay Road was a corner grocery called Kellerman’s Corner. A separate gas station was added during the 1930s or 1940s. During the 1970s, the gas station housed a business called Laid-Back Larry’s Do-It-Yourself Auto Repair.

In 1988, when Elsa Wulff bought the business, it was called The Grainery--a misspelling of the word “granary” that probably dated to the time when the building had housed a health food store. We renamed the business Mud Bay Grainery because of its location, and soon after we corrected the misspelling: from then on, we were known as Mud Bay Granary.

By 2002, we had evolved from a single farm store or granary that sold some healthy food for dogs and cats into a family of nine stores that specialized in healthy food for dogs and cats--with not a bale of hay or a bag of hog feed to be seen in any of them. Since we were clearly no longer a farm store or granary, we dropped “granary” from our name, and since then, we’ve simply been Mud Bay.

Of course, old habits persist, so there are still some people who call us by our old name. Indeed, there are still a few old Mud Bay Granary signs on a couple of our stores that help to remind us--and our long-time customers--of our past.

Does Mud Bay manufacture its own food?

No. We’re retailers, not manufacturers. Part of our vocation is researching dog and cat nutrition, the pet food industry and the companies that manufacture pet food. Our research helps us to offer dog and cat owners the widest possible selection of healthy foods and information to help them make good choices.

What does Mud Bay’s principle of Fair Prices mean?

Pricing fairly means that Mud Bay’s prices are consistently among the lowest offered by any retailer in our region 361 days a year. (We’re closed the other four.)

Pricing fairly means that our pricing is consistent--we don’t put items on sale one month and raise prices the next. And pricing fairly means that we offer the same prices to everyone--we don’t ask customers for their addresses and phone numbers and offer lower prices to those who give their personal information to us.

Mud Bay is the largest buyer in the U.S. of many of the high quality dog and cat supplies that we offer, and pricing fairly means that we put a fair margin on everything we carry.

We can’t guarantee that no retailer will ever offer something we sell at a lower price. That happens sometimes. But we can guarantee that everything we sell will be of great quality, that everything we sell will provide great value and that all of our prices will consistently be among the lowest offered by any retailer in our region, every day we’re open.

When and where is Mud Bay going to open new stores?

Opening stores in new neighborhoods allows us to bring healthy foods and useful, accurate information to more dogs and cats and their owners. Since 1999, we’ve grown from one store to sixteen, and we plan to continue opening new stores. Currently, we’re focused on locations in western Washington.

It’s one of our axioms that we’ll never grow faster than we can grow well. So dog and cat owners need not fear that Mud Bay’s expansion into new neighborhoods will hurt their own Mud Bay. On the contrary.

As our company has grown, we’ve gotten better, not worse, at the things that matter most to us: researching dog and cat nutrition, finding the best quality food and supplies, sharing information with dog and cat owners, keeping our stores well-stocked, pricing inventory fairly and creating good jobs for our co-workers.

We expect to continue to get better at all of these things as we continue to grow.

Finding the right site in the right neighborhood at the right price sometimes takes years. As soon as we know the location of a new store, we list the location in our store directory

If you want to suggest a neighborhood or a site for a Mud Bay, feel free to send an e-mail to: realestateideas@mudbay.com.

Why is Mud Bay an open-book company--and what does that mean anyway?

There’s a joke that most jobs are like bowling while your boss holds a sheet in front of the pins. After every ball, your boss looks behind the sheet and tells you, "more to the left," or "more to the right."

In an open-book company, every employee can see the pins they’re trying to hit.

There are thousands of open-book companies, and each one practices open-book management in their own way. For Mud Bay, open-book management means sharing information, sharing decision-making and sharing success with everyone who collects a paycheck.

Opening our books means that we happily give up whatever can be gained by secrecy in favor of the powerful long-term advantages that result from honesty, openness and fairness.

Is Mud Bay a franchise?

No.

We’re a single company made up of more than two hundred who work together to provide healthy foods and well-made supplies for dogs and cats in neighborhood stores that are happy and educational places to work and shop.

Each Mud Bay store is owned and operated by Mud Bay, and we have no plans to franchise.