The Ark Pet Spa, a local business that specializes in daycare and boarding for dogs, will open its fourth location — in Hixson — and has hopes for future growth, including eventually offering franchises.
"We are expanding," said Jay Floyd, who co-founded the Ark 11 years ago in Red Bank with Jimmy Adams. "We've got some great things going on right now."
The new Ark is under construction at 5461 Hixson Pike across from Earth Fare supermarket. The building, which will include a three-dimensional sculpture of the Ark's logo by local artist Matt Dutton, should open by the end of May.
"It's our first ground-up facility," Floyd said.
The Ark's three other outlets have gone into existing buildings.
"This one is pretty much — from an architectural standpoint and just how we run our business — perfect," Floyd said. "We're excited about being in the Hixson market."
The Ark chose the site after studying such information as the Hixson area's demographics, the traffic count on Hixson Pike, and the growth of surrounding residential and commercial developments, said Adam Harbin, the Ark's marketing director.
The idea is to be in a convenient location so people can drop off their pets en route to work and pick them up on the way home — just as parents drop their kids off at day care.
"These are people's children. Their pets are their children," Floyd said. "We take it very seriously."
Dogs don't just stay in their kennels at the Ark, they're let out for exercise and to socialize with other like-sized dogs under staff supervision.
"Not a lot of facilities offer free play," Harbin said.
The Ark also offers dog training using positive reinforcement. Spa services for dogs at the Ark include moisturizing balm for pads, an exfoliating facial scrub and an "aqua massage."
The Ark's locations also offer boarding for cats and other small domestic animals, including lizards, hamsters — even a miniature pig, Harbin said.
Day care at the Ark starts at $20 a day and customers can purchase less-expensive packages for longer time periods, he said. An overnight stay costs $30 for a small dog, 25 pounds and under, Harbin said.
The Ark's first location, on Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank, opened 11 years ago; the East Brainerd Ark opened about six years ago; an Ark opened in Doraville near Atlanta a year and a half ago. After the Hixson Ark opens, the company hopes to launch another store in the Nashville area.
Eventually, the company hopes to franchise its concept to other businesses.
"We want to get to about six or seven units before we kind of roll that out," Floyd said.
The Ark also introduced Slobberbones Bakery and Market at its Red Bank and East Brainerd locations. It offers what the Ark describes as, "the best all-natural pet foods, treats, and supplements as well as unique pet toys and merchandise."