Happy Dog Yoga celebrates new health and wellness boutique in St. Clair, six years in Port Huron

When War Water Brewery was going through an expansion last year, Happy Dog Yoga Studios was faced with a decision: Move to a smaller space in the St. Clair Riverview Plaza or move to a bigger one.

Emilee Hartwig chose the latter. It was a gutsy decision; yoga studios were in the same category as gyms and fitness centers, one of the last groups of businesses allowed to reopen due to the COVID-19 shutdowns.

But Hartwig bet on her future, taking the opportunity to expand and develop the Happy Dog brand. The St. Clair location of Happy Dog Yoga Studios became the Happy Dog Metaphysical Wellness Boutique. They still offer an array of yoga classes but Hartwig has added a retail space to the studio, selling crystals, teas, and a host of other wellness products and services.

“If I opened my own boutique, I wouldn’t have to drive to places like Rochester and Ferndale for crystals and tea,” Hartwig says.“In the old space, we were trying to figure out a way to make the yoga studio an essential business if we had to shut down again. And it seemed like adding retail would allow us to do that. Plus, if I opened my own boutique, I wouldn’t have to drive to places like Rochester and Ferndale for crystals and tea,” Hartwig says.

“This has all been about navigating with the times and adjusting to what comes.”

Happy Dog Metaphysical Wellness Boutique opened in the Riverview Plaza in January this year. A grand opening celebration will be held this weekend, Saturday, April 17, and Sunday, April 18. They will also host pop-up shops from Peace Boutique and Beauty Center.

The grand opening of the boutique coincides with another big milestone: The six year anniversary of the original Happy Dog Yoga Studio in Port Huron. An anniversary celebration and sale will be held there on Saturday, April 17.

Both celebrations will feature yoga class packages sold at a 20 percent discount, retail and massage sales, giveaways, and more.

“We never got to have a five year anniversary because the shutdowns had us closed for a lot of last year. But it’s worked out perfectly because now we have the retail store, too,” Hartwig says. “It’s exciting because five years is a big deal for a small business and now we get to celebrate six years in business.”

Though a five year anniversary presents a popular number to rally around, making it through 2020 and being here to celebrate a sixth year is even sweeter.

“This has all been about navigating with the times and adjusting to what comes,” says Hartwig, pictured here with her daughters.Hartwig purchased the Happy Dog business from original owner Rhonda Jones in November 2019. She would have only a few months of running the business under her belt before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down.

“I was already a little terrified buying and having my own business and then the shutdowns happened. But it was also comforting in a way. Everyone was in the same boat and no one knew what was going on,” Hartwig says.

Hartwig made the necessary pivots to stay relevant, offering free yoga classes online and running classes outside in the park. Now the yoga studios are allowed to have indoor classes; social distancing and other safety practices are in full effect. Still, Hartwig recently purchased a virtual yoga program for people that don’t yet feel comfortable practicing in-person.

Rhonda Jones still teaches at Happy Dog, even after she sold the business. It’s an interesting dynamic they share; Jones is Hartwig’s boss in their day jobs, and now Hartwig is Jones’s boss at the studios.

Both Happy Dog locations offer massage services.For Hartwig, it’s all about maintaining Jones’s initial vision of keeping yoga in the community, whether it’s in the studio, outside, or at home.

“Yoga can be a life-changing practice for people. Sometimes it’s a physical practice and sometimes it’s a spiritual or emotional one. We want to make sure that this is a safe space for people,” Hartwig says.

“We want the studios to be a safe space for people to feel free to be themselves. It’s important to keep that in the community.”

Visit Happy Dog Metaphysical Wellness Boutique and Happy Dog Yoga Studios online for more information about the grand opening and six year anniversary celebrations.