Friday, October 21, 2016

Highland Park pet supply boutique sets itself apart from big competitors

Baffico_CoOwner_RosieBunnyBean (1)

Co-owner Michael Baffico | Rebecca Schiffman


HIGHLAND PARK — Customers sometimes ask Michael Baffico and Jillian Roller, owners of the less-than-a-year-old pet supply store Rosie Bunny Bean, “You guys are doing good, right? You’re making money right?” Baffico says he gets the feeling people don’t want them to go away.

In an era when mom and pop stores are struggling to compete against big business, opening a boutique pet food store may seem like a risky move. While Baffico concedes that “all dollars are competition,” the partners don’t see Amazon or chain stores like Petco as direct competitors.

“Our customers are people in the neighborhood who are happy to have a store … that they can go to and ask questions and buy products,” Baffico said. “They’re not interested in saving a couple of dollars to end up with a street that has empty storefronts.”

Baffico and Roller launched their Rosie Bunny Bean line of dog beds (named after their Chihuahua) in 2013. With Roller’s 13 years’ experience managing a pet shop in Studio City, opening a store was a natural progression. The partners got to know Highland Park on frequent trips to Donut Friend and sought a retail space off York Boulevard because they liked the small-town vibe. “Everybody walks and you get to know your neighbors,” says Roller.


Photo by Rebecca Schiffman

Rosie Bunny Bean the store, which carries supplies for dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits, opened in October, 2014 on Avenue 51 just north of York. At less than 500 square-feet of selling space, it’s smaller than most pet supply shops, but Baffico and Roller have ruled out many products that others stock. Their motto, says Baffico, is: “We don’t sell anything in the store that we wouldn’t feed to our pets.”

What won’t they feed to their pets? Anything containing soy, corn, wheat, “by-product meal,” “animal protein,” and an ingredient Baffico describes as “extremely disgusting,” called “animal digest.”

While being so picky may sound prohibitively expensive, Roller and Baffico make a point of stocking some food that can compete with grocery store prices.  One of Rosie Bunny Bean’s top sellers, Fromm Adult Dog Food costs $21 for a 15-pound bag of kibble (plus a buy 12 get 1 free deal from the manufacturer), comparable price-wise to a 15-pound bag of Purina ONE at the VON’s on Figueroa ($25.99 or $19.99 with loyalty card), but without the corn, soy and animal digest.

Roller says, “I would like everybody in the neighborhood to want to shop here and feel like they could afford to shop here.”

While Baffico admits they can’t compete on price with the really cheap stuff, and that quality ingredients will always cost more, he believes there’s a long-term cost benefit to spending a little more on pet food. “There’s no difference between nutrition and how it relates to people’s health and nutrition and how it relates to [pets’] health.”

And, keeping up with the latest in pet nutrition, Rosie Bunny Bean sells a lot of frozen raw food by the Small Batch brand, as well as raw goat’s milk and raw fermented fish stock from Answers Pet Food, a Pennsylvania-based company with only eight employees.

Baffico and Roller enjoy the social aspect of running a store and pride themselves on being welcoming and knowledgeable. “People bring their pets, our pets know their pets…” says Baffico. “We help [customers] with nutrition or recommend a vet or a groomer.”

As to whether Rosie Bunny Bean is doing well, customers can have some reassurance.

“It’s exceeded our expectations. We’re paying the bills which is always a good thing.” says Baffico. “And you’ll know it’s really good when somebody that’s not one of us is working here.”

Photo by Rebecca Schiffman

Photo by Rebecca Schiffman


Photo by Rebecca Schiffman

Rebecca Schiffman is a writer, musician and artist living in Highland Park.

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  1. Didn’t even know this store was here… I love Paw Boutique in Pasadena but will try to spread my dollars around to support someone local. Rosie Bunny Bean, if you’re reading this… do you sell Acana food?

  2. Looks very culturally unwelcoming.

  3. Do you sell Solid Gold brand dog food?

    • We do not sell Solid Gold. All the brands we sell are not available at the big box pet retailers. We focus on brands that are only sold in independant stores. If you’d like to try the brands we carry we’re happy to provide you with free samples.

  4. Quick FYI just in case you missed it on our website.. On Sunday August 30th we’re hosting a FREE animal nutrition seminar. William Hoekman from Answers pet food will be talking about and answering questions related to pet food for dogs and cats. All the details and RSVP info can be found at rosiebunnybean.com

    • I’ll tell you what, I feed my dogs the best I can afford. The reason is practical: the less filler and more protein, the less poop to clean up.

      Michael, sorry to say I don’t patronize your shop, but I have an excuse. I moved from HP to San Migule de Allende, Mexico a little over four years ago. If you every want to visit, I’ll be happy to be your guide.

  5. Nicole LaBarbera

    I exclusively shop here for my 2 dogs and my cat. I’ve always fed them good quality food but they’re all super picky and wouldn’t eat some brands. Michael & Jillian helped us pick out foods for them that they LOVE! The bowls are empty immediately. Please buy from this store – they’re an amazing addition to the neighborhood and they are the loveliest people!!

  6. Aldo Thee Apache

    Michael and Jillian are great. Very friendly and have a small but very high quality selection of pet food and other products. 1000x more helpful than either k-9 loft or Blue Collar.

    • You liar. K9 Loft and Blue Collar employees are very friendly. Highland Park is a bad area. Good luck!

      • HP is a bad area? What is your criteria?

      • Melissa, how bad is bad? Certainly not the best area, but far from being the worst! It’s actually getting better every day.

      • Aldo Thee Apache


        In what way am I a liar?

        Blue Collar’s employees act like indignant teenagers who work at the mall.
        They sigh really audibly if they have to come from behind the counter if you ask where a product is located.

        K9 I had so many bad experiences bringing my dog to them there’s not enough space in this comment section to relay it. The staff there IS way friendlier than Blue Collar but they’re pet services are really disorganized.
        Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at Yelp.

        As far as HP being a bad area WTF are you even remotely talking about? Have you been on York lately? What are you afraid of,; the rock and roll donut store or the pizza place that serves gluten free slices (both of which are awesome btw).

  7. Melissa, how is the air up there in Aspen, CO? We’ve missed you and you really should come and visit LA sometime, sounds like you haven’t been back in a long time.

  8. Where’d my comment go? it was a legitimate question!

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