Co-owners Michael Carroll and Barb Cantonwine credit community's commitment to nurturing small business for the store's longevity

CONNECTION PHOTO: HANNAH RANK - Barb Cantonwine (left) and Michael Carroll outside their Southwest Troy Avenue  storefront with their dog, Meadow.
It was complete chance that led husband and wife Michael Carroll and Barb Cantonwine to open their Healthy Pets Northwest store in Multnomah Village. Now, 10 years and one move up the block later, they can't imagine it any other way.

"It was an absolute accident," Carroll said.

Cantonwine's sister knew Carroll was a beer enthusiast, and she wanted to show him John's Marketplace during a visit to the Village one afternoon.

"After we went to John's, we were like, 'Well, let's go for pizza,'" Carroll explained. "We went up to go to the Lucky Lab for pizza and there was a spot to park right in front of the property that we ended up leasing."

By the time they were biting into their first cheesy slice of pie, they had contacted the landlord at their first location — a space on Capitol Highway now occupied by Antoinette Estate Jewelry and Living Room Realty — and put in an offer.

Healthy Pets is a family business. Cantonwine's sister, Julie, opened the first Healthy Pets Northwest on Southeast Hawthorne. Carroll and Cantonwine's children and grandchildren also work at the store. And just months after opening their Multnomah location, Healthy Pets was recognized by Oregon State University for excellence in family business.

The Cantonwine sisters had talked about expanding the business with a second location for some time, and they initially started scouting locations in Gresham.

"We both got to the point where we were just tired of what we were doing and looking for a change, and so we called Julie one day and said, 'What would it take to open another store in Portland?'" Carroll said.

The couple found the Multnomah location in January 2007, and by February they were open.

It took them four more months to move from Gresham to a house near the Village.

"Once we had the store and spent time over here, we absolutely fell in love with the area," Carroll said.

Cantonwine and Carroll say they felt welcomed immediately. Cantonwine recalls J, who owns Village Hut, bringing them free food when they were first preparing to open. She says several people also brought them flowers.

"The Business Association here is marvelous," she said. "They've been good to us and the other businesses in the Village — friendly and open and connected with them all."

Healthy pets, healthy customer base

Another reason Carroll and Cantonwine decided to start their own Healthy Pets was that they appreciated the philosophy behind it.

"We thought it was a great business to get into," Carroll said. "We loved the idea that it was a natural pet supply store and it wasn't something where we didn't look at the product. We're careful about the product we bring in."

Healthy Pets prioritizes selling foods with high-quality protein, without bi-products or chemicals, and that avoid including wheat and corn. Cantonwine says her customers appreciate the care they put into sourcing and researching their products.

She credits their loyal customer base — those looking to patronize local businesses — with the store's longevity in the Village.

Carroll says that some of their customers have shopped at Healthy Pets since they opened.

"We get to see how their kids have grown up. It's amazing," he says. "We've got some kids that when they first started shopping here, it was all they could do to put the bag of hamster food on the counter, and now one of them is taller than me."

With that thriving customer base came the need to expand — they moved to their current location on Southwest Troy Avenue in August 2015.

"To us, the nicest thing has always been the people who come into the store and that we've gotten to know over the years," Carroll added. "It's known that our customers not only come here because we're convenient, but they also ask about us and they're concerned about what's going on with us, just like we're concerned about them. … that's what we wanted from our business — that sense of face-to-face community."

Contact Connection Reporter Hannah Rank at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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