Working like a dog for the dogs, and loving every minute of it.
By Mary Patterson
Q: What do fine chocolates, French linens and a two-legged dog have in common?
A: Jennifer Smith, founder of Noah’ and Noah’s Arks Rescue
Smith moved to Spring Island to (unsuccessfully) retire from a career in the restaurant industry. She quickly realized that there is only so much golf and relaxing she could do and yearned to get back to giving back. In 2009, she re-entered the business world as a volunteer. Yes, she volunteers for her own business as she doesn’t pay herself or the entire Fetch staff, who also choose to give their time at the store. They all do it for the dogs.
When you enter Fetch Mkt. you will forget that you are in Ridgeland, South Carolina, and think you have been transported to a fine European market. As you browse through 2,000 square feet of unique items curated from around the globe, don’t be surprised if you are offered an espresso or glass of Champagne. And don’t be surprised if you leave with items ranging from the finest European chocolates to Beekman 1802 natural skin care to Juliska dinnerware. Jennifer Smith didn’t build Fetch Mkt. to be the destination store it has become. She built it as a funding source for her true passion and she donates 100 percent of the profits from Fetch Mkt. to Noah’s Arks Rescue.
Noah’s Arks Rescue is not a typical rescue as they only accept dogs that are critically injured or ill and about to be euthanized. Its team of medical professionals and technicians rehabilitate the dogs and provide hospice care, giving them comfort in their remaining days, months and hopefully years. Behind the unassuming walls of a “strip plaza” in Ridgeland lies this dog oasis where classical music is played in doggy living rooms while the dogs receive love and medical care. Dogs come from across North America and if a dog can’t get to Noah’s Arks Rescue, Jennifer will travel to get the dog herself. It is passion, not money, that fuels Jennifer. When asked where her passion for giving comes from, Jennifer had a long pause, as if it was a silly question. She then replied “Well, why wouldn’t I give so much? I grew up on a farm where bartering and giving were just how we lived – there was no other option.”
The business skills that made Jennifer successful in the restaurant industry, including design and operations, are obvious in the impeccable interior design and merchandising of Fetch Mkt. and the logistics and orchestration required to operate a 24/7/365 dog rescue. Unfortunately, the demand for her services is never-ending – she receives thousands of emails for help, sleeps four to five hours a night and is tethered to her phone to respond to emergencies from three time zones. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Donating 100 percent of the profits from Fetch Mkt. and not drawing any salary isn’t the only way Jennifer pays it forward. For example, she doesn’t put merchandise on sale – if there is a surplus of an item or something is expiring, it is donated to the community. If there is too much facial cleanser in inventory, Jennifer donates it to a women’s shelter. If the gourmet cheeses are getting close to expiring, they are dropped at a homeless shelter. While the dogs at Noah’s Arks Rescue are the ultimate beneficiary and reason-for-being for Fetch Mkt., the entire community benefits from Fetch Mkt. As Jennifer states, “We have built a community for critically injured and ill dogs but we want to help the community we live and do business in.”
Business success is usually measured with a P&L statement. In the case of Fetch Mkt., Jennifer Smith has changed that L to stand for Love.
How to Help
- Donate to Noah’s Arks Rescue at Noahs-arks.net
- Buy a gift or personal treat at Fetch-Mkt.com
- Volunteer for a shift each week at Fetch Mkt. in Ridgeland
Expressions that Jennifer Smith lives by…
“When given so much, you have so much to give.”
“Be the hero your dog thinks you are.”
“When you grow up in the country, you barter and help, there’s no other option.”