Woman’s pet store leads her to unexpected business venture

Michele Hobbs started Pet Wants back in 2010 in Cincinnati.
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 2:45 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A woman’s journey to keep her dog healthy formed into her own business and later led her to a new path in the distillery industry.

Michele Hobbs started Pet Wants back in 2010 in Cincinnati.

As the business grew over the years, she found herself working in a new industry.

It’s been a labor of love for Hobbs as she works to create a unique taste and experience at Knox Joseph Distillery at OTR StillHouse.

“We make our own beers, our wine, a couple of soft drinks and seltzers,” explains Hobbs. “We’re very unique in the fact that we make all of those things, but, in addition, this stage behind me. We have an entertainment venue that can fit 1,000 people. No one else has that, so we are in a league of our own.”

Her journey came unexpectedly.

A year ago, Hobbs was hunting for a warehouse and storage space to expand her pet food business, Pet Wants, which she created 13 years ago after her dog Jackson was dealing with health issues.

“He had a lot of allergies, had a lot of problems,” Hobbs says. “Spent a lot of money on him just to keep him healthy. We determined there was something else going on, and it focused on nutrition. Long story short, [we] created a new food and it changed his life.”

That inspired her to open her own pet store to sell allergy-friendly food.

The business took off. Hobbs created a franchise deal that brought Pet Wants to 33 different states.

“It’s great,” says Hobbs. “For me, the focus on success is more on what we’ve done for everyone who uses our product is the pet. Knowing that we saved people money from vet bills and knowing that their lives are hopefully, the pets’ lives are extended so they stay healthy longer and they live longer so that’s what success to me is.”

As Hobbs was looking for a docking space to unload products for Pet Wants, she came across a building for sale on Branch Street in 2022.

Once she toured the former ice manufacturing company, she had a much bigger vision.

“It was just instantly, pretty much,” Hobbs recalls. “I’m like, I have to do something here that really really has staying power.”

So, she transformed the space into the Knox Joseph Distillery at the OTR StillHouse.

“This building has been here since 1899, and I really believe that there are some incredibly strong spirits in here that are so happy to have this alive,” explains Hobbs.

She also brought in some new spirits named after her children.

“If you look at the way our bottles line up, they are literally books, and this is my story,” says Hobbs.

A story she says is just in the beginning chapters as she continues to create a safe, welcoming space for the community for many generations to come.

“It’s an amazing accomplishment just to get where we are and what we anticipate the future to be; We’re really excited,” Hobbs says.

Hobbs is already on her next business idea: a foot pedal toilet flusher. She already has a patent on it.

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