A central Ohio couple plans to open two new stores in their burgeoning pet wellness business by next year, including one at the Shops on Lane Avenue.

A central Ohio couple plans to open two new stores in their burgeoning pet wellness business by next year, including one at the Shops on Lane Avenue.

In 2007, Mark and Deborah Vitt combined their love for animals -- dogs, in particular -- with their respective backgrounds in marketing, finance and retail to open a "family-owned natural pet center" on Sawmill Road in Dublin.

Since that time, the Vitts have expanded their Mutts & Co. operation to include a store in New Albany, and by mid-December, they hope to open another location at 837 Polaris Parkway in Westerville.

Additionally, Mutts & Co. will open a 1,100-square-foot temporary store at 1731 W. Lane Ave. in the Shops.

They were scheduled to open on Wednesday, Nov. 25, as a prelude to construction of a permanent 3,700-square-foot store on a vacant lot in front of Whole Foods Market Inc. on West Lane.

"The temporary store is intended to get us into the shopping center, bring a little awareness and bring our approach of overall pet wellness to the community," Mark Vitt said. "I knew (Upper Arlington) would really be a logical extension.

"We've been looking to get into that market for a while, especially Lane Avenue and its central location."

Vitt's roots extend to Upper Arlington, where he grew up before graduating from Upper Arlington High School in 1989.

In addition to location, Vitt said UA is a "conscious" community that cares about quality-of-life issues and leading healthful lifestyles.

He said Mutts & Co. is a perfect match because it sells nutritional pet foods and products -- many of which are Ohio-made -- that promote active lifestyles for dogs, cats and small animals.

The temporary store will offer primarily dog and cat foods and products, Vitt said.

The Vitts hope to open the permanent store by fall 2016. They will lease it from Shops on Lane Avenue owners, Ramco-Gershenson Property Trust, pending approval from the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning.

A staff report to the board from Upper Arlington Planning Officer Justin Milam stated, "A high-quality retail outbuilding will bring new tenants to the center and continue the positive redevelopment along the Lane Avenue corridor. Staff is pleased that this site will be developed and appreciates the applicant's continued investment in the community."

Mutt & Co.'s permanent store will include pet nutritional counseling, professional grooming services and space for do-it-yourself pet grooming.

"We also work with a lot of pet rescues and shelter operations around central Ohio to promote pet adoptions and awareness of the prominence of pets that are available for adoption," Mark Vitt said.

The Vitts also operate a nonprofit organization called Save Ohio Pets, which offers resources and assistance to the animal welfare community and pet owners around the Columbus area.

As another way to introduce themselves to Upper Arlington, the couple will be at the Shops on Lane Avenue on Thanksgiving Day for the 28th annual Chase Columbus Turkey Trot, where they will sell $10 "doggie dinners," with proceeds going to support Save Ohio Pets.