Raw Results

January 2020 View more

Jeff DiRe (holding Willy), Krysta Fox, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns (holding Bruce), Lorianne Devericks, Joe DiRe, and Neil Johnson

By Annemarie Mannion

A question emblazoned on the T-shirts that Krysta Fox and Jeff DiRe wear reflects the mission of Bruce & Willy’s (308 W. State St., 630.465.0727, bruceandwillys.com), the pet food store they operate in Geneva: “What animal cooks their food?”

Knowing the answer to that is a resounding “none,” the store, which opened in the summer, focuses on providing raw and natural foods, plus herbal, homeopathic, and whole food supplements for dogs and cats. “There is a lot of information and knowledge in this store. It’s not your typical pet store,” says DiRe. Much of that knowledge comes from Fox, who has long been drawn to loving and caring for animals. “When I grew up, we had pugs all my life,” she says, referring to the breed of dog, “and I was an avid horseback rider.”

That passion for animals drew her to career as a veterinary assistant. Besides working in the store, Fox works at Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva and at Rivendell Veterinary and Chiropractic in Winfield. She began investigating raw and natural pet diets when her own dog, Bruce Wayne, a 9-year-old black pug, was afflicted with a spinal cord disease and other ailments. “It was really hard for me to find answers for foods on the natural side of things,” Fox says. “I had to do a lot of research on my own.”

That quest led the couple to open a store that features half a dozen brands of raw foods, and high-quality treats. “There are no fillers, dyes, sugar, flours, or preservatives—no junk. Not anything that animals should not be eating,” Fox says. The store carries such brands as Vital Essentials, Coco Therapy, and Answers Pet Food. “It’s like the Fruitful Yield for pets,” Fox says.

Fox’s dog, Bruce, is a frequent visitor. He now uses a cart for getting around, but Fox says his overall health has improved while he’s been on a raw diet. “He has the heart of a lion,” says Fox. “He’s so happy and cute when he’s in his cart, wheeling around the store.”

Fox started the business because she wanted to help others locate what they need to feed their four-footed friends a healthier, more natural diet. “I wanted to help the people like me who is looking for alternative food sources and health treatments,” she says.

While Fox focuses on research and products, DiRe handles networking and customer service. One of those customers is Amy Larson of Batavia. She owns two dogs, Gnarly, a basset and pit bull mix, and Pi, a combo of boxer and feist.

After trying various different diets, Larson started Gnarly on a raw diet about a year ago, hoping to cure her of numerous urinary tract and ear infections. “Once I switched her over to a raw diet, she hasn’t had a UTI since January—and she was having them once a month,” Larson says.

Finding Bruce & Willy’s has only helped Gnarly’s health improve. Based on advice from the store, Larson switched the food she was feeding her pet. “I noticed that she has had even more improvements,” says Larson. “They switched me in the right direction.” Larson says the store’s expertise and devotion to the health of animals is what makes it unique. “The words that I’d use is that they are knowledgeable and caring,” she says. “They will answer all of my questions and talk to me even if I don’t buy anything.”

Fox and DiRe say customers frequently discuss their concerns for their pets’ health, and they will try to find a diet based on their animal’s weight, activity level, and health issues.

Bruce & Willy’s

Switching an animal over to a raw diet of fresh, frozen food doesn’t have to overwhelming or expensive, says Fox. Most of her customers spend about $350 a month for pet food. Some spend as little as $5 for a can of goat milk to add to their dry food. “That’s already doing something that’s so much better for their pet’s health,” Fox says.

The store’s fresh foods that don’t contain any synthetic vitamins or minerals. Fox says any pet that is eating a fresh, raw diet will lead a better life. “Any fresh food is going to increase their health and vitality,” she says.

Photos Courtesy Bruce & Willy’s