[Editor's note: This is one of three honorable mention winners in the Pets+ essay contest. Pet-industry professionals submitted essays in response to the prompt, “Tell us the story of your single greatest day in business.”]
The single greatest day at Eldorado Country Pet came on a Sunday, a day we’re closed for business. It was a day of conflicting emotions. Deep, heartbreaking sadness from putting down my beloved Hannah, a rescue dog, the Friday before. Pride, from accomplishing the major remodel of a beautiful new space for my store. Worry, that our one-day move wouldn’t come off without a hitch. Humbled, that so many loyal customers and staff would come on a Sunday for a long day of hard work. And finally, at the end of the day, physical and emotional exhaustion. What a day!
Owning a pet supply store in my community outside Santa Fe, NM, had been a dream of mine for years. Finally, the opportunity to buy an existing store in a nearby small open-air mall came along and I jumped. But it was a cramped little rectangle of a space with little charm and chaotic inventory piled up on itself. Not the vision of my dreams at all.
On the other hand, across the breezeway were three vacant and adjacent spaces. They were small and awkwardly shaped, and the landlord hadn’t had a nibble on any of them for over a year. My husband pitched an idea to him: Let us have all three, and we’d turn them into one new space.
Owning a pet supply store in my community outside Santa Fe, NM, had been a dream of mine for years.
The challenge was the oddity of the new shape. Although 50 percent bigger, it was U-shaped. My husband, who is a contractor and a linear thinker, was challenged, but I loved the quirkiness of the configuration. I saw twice as much wall space, better for merchandising, and the U-shape meant convenient separation of product categories. And with my cash-wrap at the top of the U we could see behind us into both legs of the U. It was perfect!
Pet supply stores sure do have a lot of inventory! After closing on Saturday, my staff of four and I, along with two husbands and the sweetest distributor rep ever, rustled up shopping carts from the mall’s nearby grocery store and began emptying shelves. Then the guys disassembled and reassembled them in the new space.
By midnight, we were move-ready but how many volunteers would show up to help, we had no idea.
Sunday dawned and my wonderful customers began rolling in for coffee, pastries and a quick orientation on the plan. A steady stream of shopping carts traversed the breezeway, display racks were emptied and restocked, refrigerators and freezers were loaded on to dollies. More than 30 volunteers worked all day loading and unloading as I directed traffic and kept the chaos organized. I was an emotional wreck but too busy to take time to let the tears flow. Those came later.
Today, a year and a half on, Eldorado Country Pet is a mainstay of our community. It’s been compared to an old-time general store where neighbors meet and share the love of their animals in a beautiful and friendly space. For me, my dream came true.
Lisa Boegl owns Eldorado Country Pet in Santa Fe, NM. She has been in the pet supply industry for over 12 years. Prior to retail she worked in wildlife rehabilitation at a large animal shelter where she met Manny, her iguana. The two have been together for 20 years. Check out Eldorado County Pet on Facebook.