Agility Training 

In the face of growing competition, this store stays cool and carries on.

 STORY BY PAMELA MITCHELL

Odyssey Pets
Dallas, TX

URL: odysseypets.com.com
OWNERS: Sherry Redwine, Mike Doan, Joann & Bill Redwine
OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2014
AREA: 10,365 square feet
EMPLOYEES: 8 full-time, 3 part-time
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/odysseypets

Sherry Redwine and Mike Doan can see their newest competitor from the register of their store, Odyssey Pets in Dallas, TX. Pet Supplies Plus is setting up shop across the street, joining Petco, PetSmart and Petland within a 5-mile radius.

The couple — along with co-owners JoAnn and Bill Redwine, Sherry’s parents — plan to handle the increased competition just as they have in the past: Focus on what they do best and build relationships with the newcomer’s staff.

In other words, they will stay cool and carry on.

Excel in Multiple Areas, but on a Smaller Scale

The family opened Odyssey Pets in 2006. Sherry handles day-to-day operations and marketing, Mike serves as animal expert, JoAnn balances the books, and Bill provides tech support. Together, they have built the 10,365-square-foot store into a trusted resource for pet parents in north Dallas and beyond.

Customers find a warm and inviting atmosphere that matches the store’s design: light yellow walls that meet stained concrete floors, with a racetrack style flow surrounding a stainless-steel wrapped checkout area. All products, many of which are from Texas, must meet high standards.

“As far as edibles go, we don’t carry anything with corn, wheat gluten, byproducts or made in China. We prefer U.S. made, but we do carry foods from Canada,” Sherry says. “Beyond food, we try to find products with good, functional design. It’s a definite plus if they are only available in independent stores.”

Bookings for grooming, daycare and boarding are limited to a number that allows for individualized care.

“Our grooming salon has just four tables and four full-time groomers,” Mike explains. “We have a modest area for training and where up to 35 dogs can play during daycare. We only take 40 dogs max for boarding.”

Operating on a smaller scale than large chains allows Odyssey Pets to excel in multiple areas and offer what they can’t. For example, dogs in the store’s daycare get four relief breaks a day in a 65-foot-by-20-foot outdoor run, complete with grass and trees. Compare that to the standard for certain competitors: visits twice a day to a “pee room,” which Sherry says can wreak havoc on a pup’s house training.

Leverage Their Independence

Mike has extensive knowledge of tropical fish and coral as well as of freshwater and saltwater aquarium systems. This combined with independent status allows The Fish Room at Odyssey Pets to operate at a profit. The couple points to area chains and franchises that struggle to break even, with some eliminating their fish departments altogether.

“We’re more agile since we’re a single store,” Sherry explains. “We can look at the list of available livestock each week to see what’s cool and new, and bring in those species to attract customers.”

Mike adds, “We’re also able to follow local hobbyist trends. Petco and PetSmart can’t because they don’t relinquish that control to individual stores.”

To further set their business apart, Sherry touts promotions and events unique in the area to Odyssey Pets. She has a window display in the works for its “Buy 12, Get 1 Free” food program and prime Facebook placement for upcoming raw food seminars and monthly dog pack walks.

Create Allies, Not Enemies

The Odyssey Pets owners aren’t losing much sleep over yet another competitor moving into their area. After all, the stores sit next to an intersection that sees an estimated 100,000-plus cars every day. Pet Supplies Plus may get more afternoon commuter traffic on its side of the street, but Odyssey Pets shares a shopping center with popular grocer Tom Thumb.

“It’s busy enough to support us all. We’ll actually benefit from PSP bringing more pet interest,” Mike says, adding that large rescues will hold adoption events there, attracting newcomers to the area. “We’re going to get a lot of new customers, and we don’t have to do anything but be open.”

To foster good relations between the stores, Sherry and Mike will pop in once Pet Supplies Plus opens to welcome its staff to the neighborhood. They plan to encourage referrals when appropriate and offer to do the same.

“We’ll let them know we’re in it to be friends,” Mike says.

“We’ll even send them Tiff’s Treats,” Sherry adds, mentioning the Texas company that delivers warm cookies and cold milk.

This approach has worked well for Odyssey Pets in the past.

“We get our largest percentage of referrals from people who work at PetSmart and Petco,” Mike says. “Their employees live and work in the area and know our store.”


PHOTO GALLERY (16 IMAGES) 

 

 

Five Cool Things About Odyssey Pets

1. FULL-SERVICE FISH: The Fish Room spans 2,500 square feet and has its own Facebook page, where followers learn of the store’s latest arrivals. Mike responsibly sources fish and even propagates coral. The store offers products and services for all levels of enthusiasts, from starter kits to large-scale aquarium design, installation and maintenance. 

2. IN-HOUSE BRANDS: Not satisfied with what was available at the time, Mike and Sherry created Lucky Buck Antlers. The naturally shed chews contain no chemicals or preservatives. The Chase Lounge is a cardboard square or ring that triples as a bed, play lounge and catnip holder. Both are available retail and wholesale. 

3. BOO!: More than 150 people attend the store’s annual Woof-O-Ween Halloween Bash, which had a “Game of Bones” theme in 2017. More than $2,000 worth of goodie bags, raffles — proceeds benefit local rescues — and prizes are given away, including a year’s supply of pet food. Vendors are invited to set up booths to share samples and info. 

4. LARGE-DOG LOVE: The grooming department has a walk-in shower for large dogs, providing employees an alternative to lifting heavy pups or requiring arthritic seniors to climb steps. 

5. SMALL-DOG FUN: The little ones attending daycare get to hang out in a large enclosure behind the register. Customers don’t mind waiting in line when they have playing pups to watch. 


Q&A with Mike Doan and Sherry Redwine of Odyssey Pets: 

One plane ticket
Bali

Favorite business book
How to win Friends and Influence People

Best advice ever given
Be patient

Best advice ever received
Be patient

Advice for a new store owner
You’re gonna need more money.

What question do you wish customers would not ask you?
“Can you shave my pug (or chihuahua, or lab, or any short-haired breed)?”

What’s the best customer service you’ve ever experienced?
Disney World

If money were no object...
We’d own the building. 


This article originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of PETS+.