By Dave Schwab
Many people don’t realize their pets’ nutrition is just as important as their own.
Which is one reason why Tori Rosay, owner/founder of Dexter’s Deli at 3773 30th St., is in business.
Rosay’s month-old retail shop in North Park is her third location in San Diego County.
“We are San Diego’s largest retailer of raw food diets that we have in all the freezers over there,” Rosay said, gesturing toward their location. “We’re kind of like the Whole Foods of pet stores. We’ve built quite a reputation for pet-health education.”
There’s a growing demand for more natural pet foods and products now because customers, Rosay said, “have been through multiple pets in their households, have had pets with health conditions like allergy problems or cancer, and they want something different. They know there’s got to be something better. So they’re ready, on their next pet, to try something more natural.”
Founded in 1996 in Del Mar and with another store in Carlsbad, Dexter’s Deli has grown to become one of the county’s leading natural health food stores for dogs and cats. Dexter’s is proving to be the “next generation” of pet-supply stores, proving the best in natural alternative diets, up-to-date nutritional information, fresh homemade foods and snacks, cool collars, and the wildest toys and gifts.
“It’s a species-appropriate diet,” Rosay said of the growing trend in the pet industry away from serving dogs and cats processed foods and toward using raw, freeze-dried and other more natural alternatives.
Noting that Americans have been “culturally conditioned” to serve pets processed foods, Rosay said pets, like people, sometimes pay a price for not eating a better diet in the form of health conflicts like “diabetes in cats; chronic, irritable bowel syndrome in dogs; allergy issues; etc.”
Rosay named Dexter’s for a past pet that was the inspiration for her 20-year-old business.
“I have a human nutrition background and I was living in St. Louis and I had a dog who was really sick with horrible allergies and it was like, ‘Duh, if this stuff (healthier more natural food) works for humans — let’s do it for pets,’” Rosay said, noting her dog lived to a ripe old age eating only fresh, raw food.
“Fresh food is powerful,” Rosay said. “It does cost a little more. So we teach people how to do it affordably.”
Dexter’s has just about everything imaginable for your dog or cat, from toys and chews to leashes and collars, and all the other accoutrements.
Why should people go to Dexter’s rather than any other pet-food store?
“Because they’re going to find foods that are more independent and more top of the line, coming out of Canada, because they have better regulations on how they handle their meat,” Rosay said.
Rosay is also all about using local and regionally sourced food and other products whenever possible. In 2014, she launched her own line of locally sourced fresh, raw food for dogs and cats called “Dexter’s Naturals.” She recently added original, all-natural dog biscuits and doggy pup-cakes to her product line that is being locally fresh-baked in Oceanside.
Following a natural holistic lifestyle in all aspects of her life and her business, Rosay believes Dexter’s Deli has taken on a life of its own because of the amazing customers who are just as passionate about their pets as she is.
Consequently, coming to North Park, for Rosay, was a no-brainer.
“North Park is a do-it-yourself community,” she said. “People are more into going to the farmers market, going organic and farm-to-table. It’s super community-oriented here. We already had customers driving from this area to our Del Mar store. So it was time to find something down here.”
Dexter’s location in a strip mall fronting on 30th Street — between North Park Way and Gunn Street — is “perfect,” Rosay said.
“It’s got a parking lot, lots of owners and dogs walking by, and two dog parks nearby at both Morley Field in Balboa Park and Grape Street,” she said.
Rosay said natural and other alternatives to processed foods are a lasting trend in the pet-food industry.
“Consumers are going to start demanding their (pet) food be made with real food, not leftovers,” she said adding, “That’s how pet food was born — to get rid of waste material from processed food.”
The pet-food purveyor said it’s a fun business to be in.
“You make a difference in people’s lives, and their relationship that they have with their pets,” Rosay said. “For some, dogs and cats are the one living thing in their household that is happy to see them. They treat their pets like regular family.”
— Dave Schwab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.