- Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
Bone-a-Fido Bakery has been pampering dogs in Clark and Champaign counties with homemade biscuits since 2003, and the bakery’s new owner plans to continue for years to come.
Karen Heskett first opened the bakery in downtown Urbana in 2003 after selling her homemade dog treats at various locations in Springfield for a few years. She moved the store to a location at 1025 N. Bechtle Ave. in 2009, developing a loyal customer base as the bakery added services like grooming.
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Heskett is retiring and last month sold the bakery to Rashe Crosson, a longtime employee who wanted to make sure the business continues.
Crosson initially planned to become a surgical technician but eventually decided she wanted something else for a career. As she thought about her job at the bakery, she realized owning a small business was a better fit. Crosson had worked at the bakery for years, but then quit to spend a year in Africa doing missionary work.
“The more I looked at the past experiences in my life, the more I thought I could do something like that,” Crosson said of running the bakery full-time.
Along with homemade dog treats, the bakery specializes in selling all-natural brands of dog food and offering grooming services. The business moved from Urbana to its current location in Springfield after Heskett realized the majority of her customers were commuting from Clark County to her store. The larger location allowed her to add grooming services, she said.
“It’s a small business but it’s a strong business,” Heskett said.
It took years before the business was stable but Heskett said she was determined to make it work. Then several years ago dozens of pets nationwide died as a result of eating contaminated pet food. That lead to customers increasingly looking for more all-natural options, including the brands the bakery offered.
“My business just took off like a shot after that,” Heskett said.
Owning a small business demands long hours, and Heskett said Crosson has the energy and skill to make sure the store continues to be successful.
Crosson was one of Bone-a-Fido’s original customers in Urbana. She was working in a restaurant at the time, and Heskett was impressed enough she sought Crosson out and asked if she’d be interested in working for her.
Both Crosson and Heskett said they each worked with staff from Springfield’s Small Business Development Center, who walked them through the transaction.
“Sometimes you don’t realize what resources are available to you until you need them,” Crosson said.
Crosson plans to maintain the business for now but it’s possible she could add services in the future, including providing lessons for people interested in becoming dog groomers. Heskett said she’s confident Crosson is the right person to keep Bone-a-Fido going.
One thing that won’t change, is the bakery’s recipes for dog biscuits.
“That is a secret that won’t leave our lips,” Heskett said.