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Faces of BKS: Brookside Barkery & Bath

Delena StoutDelena is pictured underneath the original storefront with window artwork of Delena’s pets by a local artist.

Meet Delena Stout, she’s the owner of Brookside Barkery & Bath, which has been “doing what’s best for your best friend” since 2003.

“We take our time to do the best for the dogs, and that’s why we’re the best shop in town,” Delena said, who gets customers from all over the Kansas City area and knows most of them by name. “This was the goal. We make dogs comfortable and teach owners how to care for their dogs.”

The Barkery’s Beginnings
Delena and her husband have lived in Brookside for a long time. When she was transitioning from a corporate job, Delena decided she wanted to go into business. While eating lunch with her husband at Pickleman’s one day, she looked across the street and saw the building the business is currently in. “I pointed at this building and told my husband I wanted to open a pet store,” she said. “And the rest is history.”

In the last 15 years, Brookside Barkery & Bath expanded to its current state, adding a spa and expanding the food and nutrition section.

“Our Pack”
At Brookside Barkery & Bath, the employees are part of your family, Delena said. “We’re a very diverse company. We accept everybody and we take pride in our pack,” she said, holding up a t-shirt bearing the same slogan.

“We know our neighbors in Brookside,” Delena said. “So many families we've known for a lifetime. We’ve known their dogs from puppies to the time they pass. And the families will bring in their second or third dog. We celebrate graduation, marriages, or births together with families because they've been coming here for 15 years.”

Products with Integrity
Delena is dedicated to providing an environment full of integrity. She will discontinue a product if it's not good for the dogs.

“Recently, our staff caught that a company changed the formula on one of our popular brands that made it less healthy for the dogs,” Delena said. “We want our customers to understand we are looking out for them and their pets.”

Education is a big part of Delena’s business. She and her staff are always researching their products and sharing that information with customers. They even started Barkery University, a program in which Barkery staff host seminars on pet nutrition at Research Medical Center.

“Research lets us host seminars at no charge to us,” Delena said, “why is why we can host classes for customers. This only possible because Research opened their doors. Talk about being a good neighbor! It's a win-win for everyone. That's what I like about Brookside.”

Brookside and the Barkery
“Brookside is a small city in a big town,” Delena said. “Everybody knows everybody. I see friends and customers when I’m getting groceries, restaurants have your drink on the table before you say anything. It's that little jewel in the city that you don't want to tell too many people about.”

When Delena first opened her shop, Brookside wasn’t as popular, she said. “Over the past 15 years there has been a huge improvement because of the City Improvement District (CID). That gave the area the boost it needed, revitalizing the community. The committee makes sure there are plenty of events for families, like Trick or Treat Street or the upcoming @Strutt with your Mutt that we’re involved in.”

“The neighborhood events are really important for the area and the businesses truly support them,” Delena said.

“Each business owner provides customer services every time you walk in to shop," Delena said of working in Brookside. "Customers have my email and my personal cell phone. You don't get that personal service with box stores. I even opened up especially for people.”

That neighborhood feel is even felt by business owners. When the Barkery’s company car died, a neighborhood business owner helped jump start the car.

“I asked him what I owed and he said ‘nothing, you're my neighbor,’” Delena said. During a big ice storm when the store lost power, Michael Forbes Bar & Grille let Delena store some of the Barkery’s raw food products in their freezer.

“That’s just what the people here do for one another,” Delena said.