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How Pet Wants Grew From a Local Market Kiosk to a Thriving Franchise Network Eyeing the 200-Unit Mark

By tapping into a growing demand for high-quality pet food, the boutique retailer has emerged as one of the most sought-after brands in franchising.

By Ben Warren1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 12:12PM 07/14/22

In 2010, Michele Hobbs and her wife Amanda Broughton opened a kiosk at Cincinnati’s Findlay Market to sell high-quality pet food – higher quality than they were able to find from any major retailer at the time – to her neighbors. Twelve years later, that small business has grown into a thriving franchise brand, with just under 100 units in markets across the country. Today, Pet Wants, Hobbs’ little business that could, is a household name for pet owners and franchise professionals across the U.S., with plans to cross the 200-unit market by 2024.

How did Pet Wants achieve such rapid growth in an abbreviated time period that included a pandemic and its dire economic fallout? According to operations vice president Paul Kamm, it all comes down to the product itself.

“The pet-food market is crowded, but it’s crowded with nearly identical big-box retailers offering high-production, low-quality pet food, most of which sits in a warehouse for months before you even bring it home,” he said. “For people who really care about what they are feeding their pet – and that’s a rapidly growing percentage of pet owners – there are very few options out there. Pet Wants is one of them, and it has seen tremendous growth as a result.”

The challenge of finding high-quality pet food is exactly what led Hobbs and Broughton to start Pet Wants. A lifelong dog owner, Hobbs struggled to find food that accommodated their dog’s allergies and that their dog actually wanted to eat, and so they made their own. Once they figured out a recipe that both their vet and their dog approved of, it wasn’t long before friends started asking for it. Then friends of friends started asking. Soon enough, they were selling their own recipe to pet owners across Cincinnati.

In 2010, Hobbs reached out to Ohio Pet Foods, a local, family-owned pet-food business, and convinced them (“through a lot of persistence,” Kamm noted) to produce a small batch of her formula so she could meet the demand from her small but growing customer base. 

That first batch sold out quickly, so Ohio Pet Foods agreed to increase production. After just a few weeks, Hobbs received a call from the pet-food business’ leadership team. Their question sounded ominous: “What are you doing?”

“Michele thought she was in trouble, like she had done something wrong,” Kamm said. In truth, it was just the opposite. Their pet food was selling faster than any product line Ohio Pet Foods had ever produced, and they wanted to know their secret. Hobbs happily obliged, and the team increased production.

12 years later, Pet Wants still produces 100% of its food with Ohio Pet Foods, now owned by Bright Pet. “It’s a long-standing relationship, which is important to us because we are a value-driven brand, and we depend on partners who align with those values,” Kamm said.

Chief among those values is a dedication to producing only the best-quality food and selling it fresh. Ohio Pet Foods supplies food directly to Pet Wants stores, meaning it doesn't sit in warehouses for months on end like most pet food brands. Kamm is the first to admit this is not the most cost-effective approach to selling pet food – but the results, he says, speak for themselves.

“We’re doing the right thing. That’s what we care about. It costs us more, but it doesn’t matter because that prioritization of quality is what sets us apart from other brands, and it’s what has helped this company grow,” he said.

Those additional costs are more than made up for by the stark increase in customer loyalty and sales that Pet Wants has achieved since its founding. In the past year alone, Pet Wants has experienced a 44% increase in consumer spending. Growth, however, has been achieved outward, as well as upward. In 2021, 50 locations were added to the Pet Wants family, and they plan to add 60 more in 2022. Certainly, having a fresh product made with high-quality ingredients helps, but so does a genuine care for pets and owners. And, Pet Wants delivers on this too. Offering free customized nutrition consultations is another component that sets them apart, and truly positions them as the resource in animal health and wellness, second to your vet.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when most brands across segments were scaling back and struggling to stay afloat, Kamm says Pet Wants thrives, taking full advantage of the dramatic spike in pet ownership that began at the start of the pandemic and hasn’t let up since.

“Not only have we benefited from a red-hot pet industry over the past few years, we’re also seeing a genuine social movement that is changing the role pets play in people’s lives,” Kamm said. “You have Millennials who are opting for pets instead of kids; you have a dramatically expanding senior population that is looking to pets for companionship, and across generations, we are seeing a growing awareness of the importance of nutrition for our animals and the quality of their lives.”

To fulfill the growing demand for nutrition-focused pet food across demographics, Pet Wants is partnering with franchise owners who share the brand’s uncompromising commitment to quality. And the franchise has had no trouble finding eager partners. 

“There are so many people out there who are just as passionate about this project as we are,” Kamm said. “And the great thing about this model is, you don’t need to be an expert to succeed. We are really looking for anyone with some retail experience and who shares our passion for pet health. That’s the major marker for success. If a franchise candidate has that passion but they don’t have any education in pet nutrition, no problem; we provide it.”

Last year, Pet Wants sold 47 new franchise locations. In 2022, the brand is anticipating adding 60 new locations. After that, Kamm said, the brand’s development team is aiming to double the size of the franchise system every 18–24 months. 

“We’re excited to reach 200 units by 2024, but we’re already looking past that,” he said. “We’re well-positioned to hit 400 by 2028, and we’ll continue to grow as long as we have available territory and consistent demand, which shows no signs of slowing.”

Twelve years later, Pet Wants hasn’t abandoned its original kiosk model, either. Franchisees with the scalable storefront brand launch with smaller-scale kiosks prior to opening full brick-and-mortar stores. This allows franchisees to build their connection with their local pet community as they prepare for the next step in their franchise journey.

“The territories we define for owners are quite large, and people are looking for this brand everywhere,” Kamm said. “That allows our franchise owners to diversify their revenue streams by opening multiple models in a variety of locations, and we’ve seen our owners grow rapidly as a result.”

As Pet Wants continues to expand, it is seeking qualified, passionate franchisee candidates in markets across the U.S., starting with Texas, Florida, Utah, California and the Pacific Northwest, where the franchise is looking to take advantage of valuable white space before the end of the year.

“This is an opportunity that is primed to succeed anywhere we take it,” Kamm said. “That has been proven time and again with each new franchise launch, and moreover, by the demand we are seeing in markets where we haven’t even set up shop yet. The model has been perfected. Now, it’s just a matter of finding passionate, talented partners to introduce Pet Wants to their communities.”

The cost to open a Pet Wants franchise ranges from $42,500 to $202,000, including a $42,500 franchise fee that can be earned back through the brand’s Winner’s Circle program. For more information, visit


Pet Wants is a pet health and wellness company that strives to improve the nutrition, health, vitality, and well-being of pets. Founded in 2010, the brand’s specially crafted, private-label pet food formulas are made in small batches with fresh, natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced diet in every bowl, all made in the USA. Pet Wants has set a new standard in what you should expect in your pet food and has created the ultimate convenience with free, personal delivery through their 90+ locations across the United States. To learn more about Pet Wants, visit or follow Pet Wants on LinkedIn, @petwantsusa on Facebook, @petwants on Twitter and Instagram.