SUCCESS STORY

Nick and Tonya Rintye

The Hipster Hound

The Hipster Hound Nick and Tonya RintyeFarmers’ markets are generally known for offering a wide variety of fresh produce, locally made artisanal products, and a thriving community spirit. For Tonya and Nick Rintye and their daughter Lucy, the local market scene was also a great place to plant the seeds for not just one but two successful business ideas.

As longtime Savannah, Ga. residents and lifelong dog lovers, the Rintyes had a dream of owning a dog daycare and boarding facility one day. They started out small, with Tonya baking and selling homemade dog treats focused on wholesome, natural ingredients.

“In January of 2015, we got our business license to start selling dog treats at local markets,” Tonya said. The treats quickly became popular and were carried by retailers in several dozen states and even Canada. “And that rolled into at-home pet sitting as we got to know people at different markets [who] asked us to watch their pets.”

So Rintyes added a pet sitting service, which grew steadily and led to the next step in their journey. In November of that same year, they bought an existing dog daycare and boarding business and ran it from a residential location while their first facility was being built. The following March, Tonya and Nick opened The Hipster Hound, a full service boarding, daycare, grooming and retail facility on Echols Avenue in Savannah.

“We had a client list, and I would say 99% of them followed us to the new facility. We continued to grow, so two years later, in 2018, we built our second facility, which was just daycare, grooming and a retail store,” Tonya said. “We were having to turn away daycare [customers] due to high boarding volumes at our Echols Avenue location. The second location was basically for overflow so we weren’t turning away business. Also, boarding is a whole lot more work and liability, and we just didn’t want that.”

Over the next five years, Tonya and Nick stayed quite busy running both locations, which were almost always booked at maximum capacity and employed almost 50 people at one point. Tonya was on-site every day, while Nick continued his full-time job with a railroad equipment supplier, in addition to spending nights and weekends handling the accounting, handyman jobs, and many other issues as they came up.

The Rintyes loved getting to know the pets in their care and enjoyed friendships with the pet parents they served, as well as their employees. They were constantly involved in the community, going to events and supporting animal rescue efforts. But the 24/7 aspect of always being on call was exhausting. “We just got to a point where it was taking up all of our time,” Nick said.

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“We have a daughter who only has a couple more years left in high school, then she'll be going off to school,” Tonya added. “We realized that we were not having enough family time because it was always being interrupted. So we decided we wanted to have [a better] quality of life.”

A friend in the industry connected them with Teija Heikkilä of PET|VET M&A, Sales & Advisory for help determining the value of their business and negotiating a deal. Nick and Tonya spent the first part of 2023 evaluating their options and started gathering documents to lay the groundwork for the sale of The Hipster Hound in the fall of 2023.

Nick and Tonya agreed that the PET|VET team made the entire process very smooth for both parties in the transaction, and they credit Teija’s reputation for bringing maximum value to the deal. “Without her in the middle, [the buyer] probably would have tried to pay a little bit less. And then we wouldn't be in the position as much to negotiate. So it really didn't cost us anything to use her as a broker,” Nick said. “It was a really pleasant process. She kept us informed every step of the way. It was seamless. She provided every service, from the lawyers to the accountants … we didn’t have to bring anybody else to the table.”

The sale of both Hipster Hound locations closed on April 1, 2024, and Nick and Tonya both admit they’ve been sleeping better ever since. In addition to tying up a few loose ends with the sale, Nick continues in his role at National Railway Supply, while Tonya runs their newest venture – a retail store in Savannah’s historic shopping district. They opened Locally Made Savannah back in March of 2022 so that it would be up and running whenever they decided to exit the pet resort business.

The concept for Locally Made Savannah originated years ago, at the farmer’s market where they first sold their dog treats. Even in those early days, they were sensing an interest among other local artisans for a fixed retail location – a place to sell their wares to tourists looking for treasures that aren’t mass produced.

“We have a lot of visitors come through [downtown Savannah] where our store is … On the weekends and when the weather's nice, the store is packed,” Nick said. In addition to collectibles made by local artisans, the shop also features sweet treats including a milkshake bar, offering decadent desserts like the “He’s a Tough Cookie” shake – made with cookies and cream ice cream then rimmed in fudge frosting, rolled in cookie crumbs and topped with a baked good.

Not forgetting their farmers market roots, the Rintyes plan to continue with the same attention to detail and entrepreneurial spirit that fueled their vision for The Hipster Hound. “Right now we're just kind of playing with the different directions that [we] can go, seeing how it can grow,” Tonya said.