Luke Johnson was not going to let his local pet store get bogged down by rising rents.
After four years of research, he purchased a building last year from Luke & Co.’s current Fine Pet Supply & Outfitters store at 430 Broadway.
âLease prices are going crazy and they’re not going to stop anytime soon,â Johnson said. âSo for us it was a necessity to move, not a luxury. You can only buy pet food for a limited price, and all pet stores have to sell it for the same price due to the online sales boost. There’s a built-in margin, and if your overhead continues to rise and we have a model of growing terminal sales, we’ll eventually close our doors. “
Johnson purchased the 2,300-square-foot space at 530 Broadway, which was previously Moe’s original barbecue and gas station in the late 1940s, for $ 1.4 million, according to property records.
He said staying open throughout the pandemic as a critical business combined with an increase in the number of dog owners contributed to the 20% increase in year-over-year sales in 2020 and put Luke & Co. in a good position to buy the property.
Joey Gargotto and Todd Snyder with NAI Shames Makovsky represented Johnson in the deal.
The owner of the pet store said he didn’t want to stray too far from his original store, which he opened in 2016, and was struggling to find something that wasn’t ” overpriced or trash ‘in this area.
âI was going to reluctantly re-sign a lease, but COVID hit, and then suddenly, overnight, there was a building for sale on every block,â Johnson said.
The building was under contract to become condos, Johnson added, but when the pandemic hit, the previous buyer pulled out.
âIt’s kind of a passion project for me since I was born and raised here in Denver, and I’m a fourth generation resident,â Johnson said. “I hate to see all the buildings that have a history in them being demolished, even if it’s just a gas station.”
Johnson plans to open the new Luke & Co. pet store space by August 2022. He wants to restore the Broadway building to look like the old gas station with gas pumps and a van. from 1953 to welcome visitors and create a nostalgic atmosphere.
The owner is also planning an additional 4,200 square foot three-storey glass barn around the existing structure. He hired Clutch Designs to help create that vision and DCB Construction to complete the build.
âSince I opened the store in early 2016, the goal has always been to be the best in Denver,â Johnson said. âThe downtown area didn’t have a large pet supply facility, and there aren’t many places that would entice you to go there to shop and nurture your relationship with your pet. company. I wanted to create something that, when you walk in, wows you.
The new 6,500 square foot store will be almost double the size of its current 3,300 square foot location down the block. The second floor will have dedicated offices, conference rooms, and a dog training center, and the first floor will have three self-service dog wash bays, two grooming parlors, and carry a lot more food, accessories. and pet treats.
âThe biggest benefit for us, aside from equity in ownership and stable overhead costs each month, is that we’ll really be a lot more visible to the Broadway Hallway and the city of Denver,â Johnson said. “I mean a modern three story metal and glass barn is going to be pretty hard to miss.”
But a year after purchasing the building, Johnson is still awaiting permits.
âWorking with the City of Denver through the permit process has been difficult, but I hope to have them in January 2022, which would be 14 months after our first application,â Johnson said.
The owner of the pet store plans to keep its current location open until the move. He still has his lease until the end of January and plans to extend it temporarily.
Luke & Co. is on track to grow 25 percent year-over-year and, while the wait is long, he said the new location will only boost growth.
âI want Luke & Co. to be a multigenerational family business and I want it to be a Denver staple, and I think that puts us on the right path to becoming just that,â Johnson said. âI think of brands like Tattered Cover, everyone knows who they are and where they are. They survived the collapse of other bookstores, like Barnes & Noble, and that’s a testament to the brand, the people who work for them, the products they sell and the way they run their business, what we want Luke & Co. to be in Denver.
Once he opens the new location, he said he would consider expanding throughout the Denver metro area.
âI don’t want there to be a store on every corner,â he added. âWilliam Sonoma isn’t around every corner, and there’s a reason for that. We want people to want to travel 20-30 minutes because it’s a fun place to visit and bring your dogs.