and Lynn Wilde followed their passion for
feathered, finned and furry creatures and
catering to their needs with healthy food
and unique supplies since 1991.
The couple opened their first Friends of
Nature store in Menomonee Falls, where Doug
grew up. From there, they opened Friends of
Nature in Slinger and took over Landmark
Feed, Seed and Supply in Cedarburg.
Starting a pet supply business during the
growing stages of the industry was a good
fit for the Wildes.
Lifelong pet owners, Doug said they have a golden retriever,
named Brandi. When visiting Landmark Feed, Seed and Supply, which
they acquired in 2005, you'll be greeted by their cat Tigger
who rules the roost.
“Everybody comes in to see him, he's our
house cat,” says Doug.
Tropical fish lend a serene atmosphere to
the Wildes' home at the end of a long
At the Menomonee Falls store, a well-rounded
variety of pet foods, books and supplies are
stocked, along with other items for outdoor
birds and wildlife.
“We pride ourselves on variety,” Doug said.
“We have things you won't find in chain
stores or box stores.”
Since opening the first Friends of Nature 21
years ago, the Wildes have acquired more
space, growing from a 1,000-square-foot
storefront to 12,000 square feet on Main
Street in Menomonee Falls.
They opened a second store in Slinger at the
request of their customers in 2000. The Dove
Plaza was home to the store for five years.
Like the Menomonee Falls store, the
popularity of its pet and wild bird
offerings required more space and the
business moved to an 8,000-square foot
building at 433 E. Washington St.
The Slinger and Menomonee Falls stores are
similar in layout and offerings, Doug said.
“We carry food and supplies for every type
of pet - dogs, cats, small animals,
reptiles, birds and fish. You name it and we
stock it,” Doug said.
The hallmark of their dog and cat foods,
treats and supplements is quality, Lynn
“We're focused on the higher-quality,
holistic and natural food approach,” she
said. “Like people, you are what you eat.
The better nutrition you give your pet, the
longer it will be with you.”
“The pet food industry has grown so fast and
the quality of foods has gotten so good,”
said Doug. "We pride ourselves on educating
people about good quality food. It can make
a difference in quality and length of life
of your pet.”
Lynn said they keep up on research and are
willing to pass that knowledge on to their
“You can’t always believe what you read
online. Go to Web sites of foods we sell and
read the ingredient list. Food for animals
is like food for people. The ingredient list
pretty much tells you everything you need to
know,” Lynn said.
And like human food, empty calories and
fillers are useless when it comes to a
"Like people, dogs and cats can get
diabetes. Look for food high in meat protein
and low in carbs. There are good grains and
bad grains, good meats and bad meats,” Lynn
"We're able to help people
with choosing food that will take care of a
dog's needs. Every dog is different and we
will work with customers to find the right
food,” Doug said.
"I tell people
to buy the best they can afford,” Lynn says, but that
doesn't mean she advises customers to
automatically buy the most expensive food.
top-selling brand the Wildes' stores carry
is Fromm pet food, a Wisconsin made product.
"It's a great food and its priced right,”
The Slinger and Menomonee Falls stores also
carry hamsters, fish, and
hermit crabs. Lynn said the smaller animals
are ideal for apartment dwellers that can't
have a dog or cat. "They are relatively easy
to care for and relatively easy to
maintain," Lynn said,
Store employees are also pet owners and many
are experts that can advise prospective pet
owners in the areas of reptile and fish
Lynn recommends that those
interested in becoming a dog or cat owner
buy from a breeder or shelter. One way to
become versed in the needs and personality
of a potential pet is to attend one of the
stores' "meet and greets”. The Slinger store
has brought in various rescue groups to
inform customers and showcase their breeds.
One recent event hosted by the store brought
in members of a golden retriever rescue
"We try to get word out that there are dogs
that need good homes,” Lynn said.
Applications for homeless pets can be
obtained at the meet-and-greets and,
although the process may start at the store,
the actual adoption between the group and
new pet owner takes place off site.
"People love to come in and see the dogs,”
And the Wildes commitment to animals goes
past dollars and cents. They donate pet food
to the Ozaukee and Washington county humane
societies and offer support in the form of
sponsorships for various fundraisers. Lynn
is also on the board of directors of
in Need Center (WINC), a Waukesha County
organization that provides rehabilitation to
Wisconsin wildlife with the intent of
releasing animals back to their native
habitat. The organization also conducts
research designed to further the positive
impact of rehabilitation and provide quality
community education programs and services.
At Friends of Nature and Landmark, pets are
only one half of the equation. The Wildes
also look at the other side of the glass -
to care for wild birds and other wildlife.
The Menomonee Falls and Slinger stores have
balanced sections devoted to outdoor
animals, but at Landmark indoor pets take a
back seat to the variety of wild bird custom
mixes, feed for squirrels, shelled and
cracked corn and bird feeders.
Landmark is the oldest retail establishment
in Cedarburg and is located in a historical
landmark, hence the name.
"Cedarburg has more of wild bird presence
and the focus is more into feed whether it's
feed for horses, livestock or wild birds,"
says Doug. “People there are fanatics about
feeding the birds.”
Carrying a commitment to providing
high-quality food to outdoor creatures, the
Wildes hold a popular wild bird food sale
each October, a tradition that started with
the Wildes’ first Friends of Nature 19 years
ago. The sale is timed to coincide with the
black oil sunflower seed harvest and is held
when commodity prices are at their lowest,
Offering 100 different mixes at the lowest
prices of the year has customers from near
and far calling in as early as September to
find out the sale dates.
"Customers love it," says Doug. "They look
forward to it every year." For more