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.
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.
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.
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.
Pricing fairly means that Mud Bay’s prices are consistently among the lowest offered by any retailer in our region 360 days a year. (We’re closed the other five.)
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.
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 thirty eight, and we plan to continue opening new stores. Currently, we have stores in Western Washington and in the Greater Portland area.
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: email@example.com.
We believe that being an owner-operator has helped make our work for Mud Bay fulfilling, and we want all of Mud Bay’s staff to have the same experience. Sharing ownership with staff just seems fair—like the right thing to do. It is important to us that Mud Bay feels like one team, and employee ownership helps remove the divides between owners and employees and between management and staff. We think employers have a responsibility to help long-term employees prepare for retirement. We want to create jobs that people can have for a lifetime, and we want to make sure that someone who has been working for Mud Bay for 25 years can retire someday.
We’re a single company made up of more than three hundred owners 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.