Today’s pet parents care deeply about their animals. Savvy store owners understand this — they feel the same way, after all — and offer classes on a variety of health and wellness topics. 

“We spend quality time with each customer, but by offering them education nights, they get the opportunity to learn on a broader scale about a topic that interests them,” says Christine McCoy, owner of The Natural Pet Enrichment Center in North Royalton, OH. “We also feel that the more we educate our customers on the products that enhance pets’ lives, the better choices they will make.”

Aspen Anderson, co-owner of Desert Raw Holistic Pet in Salt Lake City, UT, agrees and adds that a deeper knowledge also helps customers justify paying a higher price.

“People have to understand the logic behind paying more for better quality,” she says.

Let’s take a look at the pet health and wellness classes McCoy and Anderson offer, as well as those that are working for other stores across the country.

ABOUT BENCHMARKS: Benchmarks rounds up the most creative work of pet retail professionals in a variety of categories.

 

California's Healthy Spot chain offers a variety of events and classes, including the popular DogaFit yoga class by Aimee Hyatt.

DOG YOGA
HEALTHY SPOT 
MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, CA

This small pet-store chain offers a variety of events and classes, including the popular DogaFit by Aimee Hyatt. Held in-store and outside off-site, the sessions cover how essential oils, massage and yoga poses can improve the well-being of people and their pets. “I designed that class to make the students and the dogs happy. It’s a very calming experience,” Hyatt says. Nick Batcheller, marketing manager for Healthy Spot, points to email blasts and social media posts, both organic and paid, as the best ways to advertise these types of events.


THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE
THE FILLING STATION PET SUPPLIES 
Tigard, Or

This store sees sales boosts after its classes, but owner Laura Amiton says that isn’t why she offers them. “I believe in connecting with the community in ways that will enrich their lives. Happy, healthy pets help us be happier, healthy as well.” Amiton partners with Kim Grist of Loving Paws Massage to teach customers the basics of this therapeutic practice. She offers this tip for reaching those who might be interested in attending pet health and wellness classes: Post flyers on the bulletin board at your local Whole Foods.


DIETARY ADVICE
DESERT RAW HOLISTIC PET
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Co-owner Aspen Anderson teaches the benefits of feeding raw dairy as well as raw meat in her classes on the topic. “Raw dairy, especially goat’s milk or kefir products, is a source of healthy fats and probiotics,” she says. Taking time to educate her customers is well worth her time. “For every class I teach that has 15 attendees, I usually get one or two loyal long-term customers. For an hour and a half of my time, the ROI is huge if they buy from me for the next two to 10 years.”


DIETARY ADVICE
THE NATURAL PET ENRICHMENT CENTER
NORTH ROYALTON, OH

“Why Raw, Why Primal” was the first class held at this store’s new location, which has a designated education area. Natural Pet carries several brands of raw food and invites reps to provide more information about the diet itself and their products. Owner Christine McCoy explains, “We knew our customers wanted to learn about the benefits of feeding raw and to ask companies questions directly.” Since the Primal event in April, she says, “We are seeing an increase in sales from the customers who attended that night.”


FLEA & TICK CLASS
TRAILBLAZER PET SUPPLY 
CHICO, CA

When store manager Lori Wells noticed an uptick in inquiries about natural flea and tick preventatives, she put together a class on the topic. It covered diet and supplementation — options not always offered by vets — as well as the effects of pesticides on pets. Wells see multiple benefits of holding classes at Trailblazer: “Overall, classes build a relationship with our customers, which builds both trust and patronage.” They also help animals in need as she asks for a pet supply donation to attend.


PET FIRST AID
DISTINCTIVE PET CARE/KEN CARYL PET SPA
LITTLETON, CO

Dawn Olson teaches Pet Tech first aid and CPR classes through her two businesses. Because neither has enough room to hold the number of people who sign up, she partners with doggie daycares and animal shelters, and rents space at a grocery store near her grooming shop. The classes, even though held off-site, create customers for Olson. “Students will then hire me for pet sitting,” she says, adding that she also hands out business cards with a grooming coupon on the back.


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of PETS+.