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Advertisement Home Grown Pets opens in Marion
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · November 30th, 2017

What started as a small marine aquarium hobby for Dustin Bessine and Lisa Lemek over 18 years ago has now grown into a thriving pet store business in two Iowa locations, Burlington and Marion. "We carry local, home-grown pets and products," they said. "[We] do all we can to help our customers understand the needs of their pets and the products needed to provide the best care possible for their new family member."

While their successful Burlington store has been established for almost two decades, the new Home Grown Pets in Marion is a work in progress, they said. As they grow, they will have a much larger variety of products and animals, and will offer aquarium set-up and service for local homes and businesses. "We have a variety of products and animals; we love featuring local vendors, and we anticipate that growing over time as we establish more relationships in Marion," said owners Bessine and Lemek.

Home Grown Pets in Marion, located at 999 44th St., Suite 2000, opened its doors for the first time on Friday, November 24, 2017, with about 100 patrons stopping by. Bessine and Lemek said that was more than double the number of shoppers they were expecting for their first day. "We had a great weekend [and] look forward to meeting new pet lovers. The warm welcomes we received ... have been amazing."

Bessine and Lemek chose Marion because some of their customers who traveled to Burlington encouraged them to open a location in the Marion area for years. "We have been watching Marion for a few years and love the progressive growth of the community. We are excited to be a part of that growth in the future."

According to Bessine and Lemek, Home Grown Pets carries Royal Canin, Outward Hound, Go Dog, Kong, a variety of USA made dog and cat treats, Marineland, Aquavitro, Seachem, Cobalt, Deep Blue, Zoo-Med, Zilla, fish and animals from Segrest Farms and a variety of others. In addition, they offer aquariums, dog toys, dog treats, Aquavitro Salinity, and driftwood by an artist in Clinton Iowa. Coming soon in stock are Taste of the Wild, Top-Nutrition dog and cat food from Wellman, Iowa, Fromm pet food based in Wisconsin, and Dog Gone It handmade collars and leashes.

In addition, the pet store plans to sell reptiles, birds, and freshwater and marine fish as well as invertebrates. "We love partnering with non-profits like Cedar Valley Humane Society to help find homes for dogs and cats. We will set a dedicated spot for any shelter that would like to bring in animals in need of a new family," Bessine said.

Bessine and Lemek are also environmentalists who recycle everything they can and also reuse as much as possible. "We are starting an eco-club that will allow our customers to save money by reusing water containers, cricket and other feeder insect packages, aquarium chemicals, and many other products on our shelves that we buy in bulk already for store use," Bessine said.

They also sell bedding made from recycled paper and make their own bedding from shredded paper. "We reuse small boxes for small animals and other small pets," versus buying the cute boxes to send them home in. "We spent weeks tearing down shelving from a big box store that was literally going to throw away its entire store set - the first set was in the dumpster when we arrived. We have set both of our locations, almost entirely, with said shelving. We also will build our own line of dog houses, cat trees and other pet products from repurposed or broken pallets," Bessine added.

Home Grown Pets' current hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. They are closed on Mondays so they can build their aquatic department. Hours may change after the store's grand opening. In addition, Bessine said they are anticipating hiring six to eight full-time and two to four part-time employees. For more information, visit
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