The specialty pet food store now offers curbside pickup and free, same-day delivery. Unlike many other businesses, they are about to open a second location less than a year after opening the first one on Williams Drive.
Jusak Yang Bernhard and Jeff Manley’s new store is slated to open in mid-August and will be on South Austin Avenue near Lark & Owl Booksellers and Monument Cafe. Bernhard and Manley said they are excited about the downtown location and have already made a deal with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office to provide food for the K-9 unit.
The journey that ultimately led the couple to Georgetown was extensive. Bernhard was an actor and producer and Manley an award-winning editor in Los Angeles. When they decided it was time to leave the industry, they realized they needed to start fresh in a new area and wanted to move closer to family, so they landed in Savannah, Georgia.
“We were going to open up a restaurant,” Bernhard said, laughing as he added, “but then we realized we didn’t want to cook every day.”
As the pair looked for the right business opportunity, they were simultaneously searching for specialized food for one of their dogs who had allergies. At first the dog had been on steroids for her issues per a vet’s suggestion, but she gained unhealthy weight and became lethargic.
A friend suggested holistic food, so Bernhard and Manley tried it, and their dog’s issues cleared up sans medication.
They became passionate about educating people on the merits of raw and natural dog food and realized a speciality pet food store was needed in their new community. They could even bring their dogs to work, Manley noted.
The Georgia store soon turned to three and won several small business, pet store and other retail awards. But in 2017 Manley’s father became ill, and he and Bernhard felt they were needed in Sun City, so they sold their business and headed to Georgetown. After Manley’s father died, it was clear his mother and brother still needed them, he said.
After two years of full time caretaking, Bernhard and Manley decided they wanted to permanently settle close by, but also that it was time to get back into the pet food business. They opened Wag Heaven on Williams Drive in September 2019. The store and philosophy is similar to their Georgia original.
“It’s not all about selling dog and cat food,” Bernhard said. “We’re very community-driven.”
The store helps local organizations such as the Sun City Pet Club, The Playful Child Foundation and others with fundraisers. They donate food to the Georgetown Animal Shelter, which would also host monthly adoption events at the shop pre-pandemic.
The business’s self-service dog washing stations were also used often for giving back, pre-pandemic.
“If an organization has volunteers that want to use the stations to wash customers’ dogs, then they can keep all the money from those washes, and the customer gets a full-service dog wash at a self-service price,” Manley said, adding they are looking forward to hosting such events again when it is safe to do so.