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Focusing on relationships helps Stacy Busch-Heisserer and Chris Heisserer grow their businesses and better serve pets.




Busch Pet Products, Cape Girardeau, MO

OWNERS: Stacy Busch-Heisserer & Chris Heisserer; URL:; FACEBOOK:; INSTAGRAM:; FOUNDED: 2008; LOCATIONS: 1; AREA: 4,400 square feet; TOP BRANDS: OC Raw, NutriSource, Pure Vita, Ruff Wear, Primal Pet Foods, Up Country, Fromm, Champion Pet Foods, Northwest Naturals, FabDog, Boss Dog, Smart Cat, Lotus Pet Foods, Messy Mutts, Fluff & Tuff; EMPLOYEES: 2 full-time, 4 part-time

Stacy Busch-Heisserer

Stacy Busch-Heisserer

STACY BUSCH-HEISSERER’S JOURNEY from 8-year-old show dog handler to successful multi-business owner took a few detours. She grew up working at her family’s boarding kennel in Cape Girardeau, MO, and had planned to take over after graduating from college in 1994. Her parents weren’t ready to retire, though, so Busch-Heisserer also worked in merchandising and provided pet sitting services.

In 2008, she started her own online pet store that sold, among other items, small-batch dog food made locally. Busch-Heisserer hit it off with the company’s owner and soon was working as its director of sales. The role took her to area pet stores, where she found mentors who encouraged her to open a brick-and-mortar location.

Congratulation From Your Business Coach and Support System

“They were having fun, and they sold cool products,” Busch-Heisserer says, “I was like, ‘I should probably listen or regret not trying.’”

Two years later, she opened Busch Pet Products in Cape Girardeau. Just 720 square feet leased from a high school friend’s mom, it was small but mighty.

“It wasn’t much, but it caught the eye of many local pet owners looking for more personalized experience than they were getting at larger retailers.”

It also put Busch-Heisserer and husband Chris Heisserer on the path to where they are today: owners of three successful pet businesses. They opened Deer Creek Doggie Day Camp in 2015 and finally took over Busch Kennel in 2019. The couple continue to build relationships — within their community and between their businesses — that grow store revenue and better serve pets.

Welcome, Welcome

Busch Pet Products expanded in 2011 to 1,800 square feet and then again last May, when the couple purchased the shopping center next door to their day care to further invest in the community. They moved their store there, and are landlords to a grooming salon and Pilates studio, with the desire to bring in a local restaurant soon. The architectural design eschews typical strip malls and boxy commercial spaces.

“The exterior looks like a French village,” Busch-Heisserer says. “We worked with our contractor to add even more curb appeal with meandering stained concrete, grass between the sidewalks, and planter boxes that double as seating.”

Inside, black ceilings make the 4,400 square feet feel even more open, and an earthy, color palette of greens and tans creates a soothing aesthetic. LED “Dogs” and “Cats” signs aid customer navigation.

Busch-Heisserer explains, “I had a very specific idea: Cats and dogs would have their own unique sections. I wanted customers to have a comfortable experience no matter if they were cat people, dog people or both.”

At left, this former Macy’s display now holds raw body parts instead of sweaters. At right, original artwork of late Howie the store cat adds another personal touch.

At left, this former Macy’s display now holds raw body parts instead of sweaters. At right, original artwork of late Howie the store cat adds another personal touch.

A stylish display case, purchased at a deep discount when a nearby Macy’s closed, houses the raw bar. It also blocks off unused exterior doors.

“That big display rolled perfectly into that space,” Busch-Heisserer says. “I was like, ‘This is meant to be!’ My contractor built a little lip around the top, so we have glass jars on top and baskets in the cubbies. There’s everything from tracheas to ears — any body part you can think of, but nothing that requires refrigeration.”

She estimates sales from this display case alone at roughly $90,000 over the past year.

A glass door and windows separate the 600-square-foot self-wash area. They let “curious customers see the action” but keep the noise, hair and dogs contained. In 2021, baths and bath packages totaled around $46,000 of the store’s $1.1 million annual gross revenue.


Back in the retail area, original artwork of Howie — commissioned and by customers — memorializes the famous store kitty who passed in 2020. He remains the mascot for customer and community outreach. Among other efforts, Howie’s Birthday Club sends members a postcard and invitation for a free treat and social media photo. Howie’s Harvest donates 6,000 pounds of pet food each year to a local food bank.

Busch-Heisserer says of the latter, “I spoke to the director of the food bank and learned they did not have a source for pet food. I was especially struck by the fact that people would come to their mobile pantries and get human food to make sure their animals were fed first. I knew we had to help.”

Dogs and cats get their own sections at Busch Pet Products, helping to make often-overlooked cat customers feel welcome.

Dogs and cats get their own sections at Busch Pet Products, helping to make often-overlooked cat customers feel welcome.

Making (Re) Introductions

After the 2021 move, Busch-Heisserer began regularly connecting with other small businesses in Cape Girardeau.

“Each quarter, we choose two to four businesses and drop off a basket of goodies from the store with full-sized products, dog wash coupons and brochures,” she says. “Even though we have been open for 10-plus years, the move into our new location was the perfect opportunity to remind people about what we do.”

An optimally placed digital billboard also widens the store’s reach. A customer owns one visible from three vantage points at a nearby roundabout.

“We helped him out with his dog’s diet, and once he switched over to digital, he said, ‘You should really think about doing this.’ It costs $750 a month.”


And the couple makes sure each of their businesses lets their customers know about the others. While Busch-Heisserer focuses on the store and day care, Heisserer oversees kennel operations. They provide info and incentives, with special attention paid to crossmarketing their next-door businesses. As soon as a dog passes the day-care admittance evaluation, they get a coupon for a free bakery treat at the store.

“When they come in to redeem their coupon, we take a photo of the new ‘Camper’ and post it on social media,” she says, referring to the store’s 11,000-plus followers on Facebook and its 4,000-plus on Instagram. “We want to make sure that customers at the day care become customers at the store and vice versa.”

Self-wash customers can choose the perfect scent or treatment for their pups.

Self-wash customers can choose the perfect scent or treatment for their pups.

Above All

The most important relationship for Busch Pet Products will always be the one with the pet parents who shop at the store.

“I want to make sure all of my customers know my staff and I are here to help them help their pets live long, happy lives. Nothing is more satisfying to hear from a customer who changed food at our suggestion and it fixed an issue, or that we recommended a supplement and it changed a pet’s health. That’s why I’m doing this.”

Five Cool Things About Busch Pet Products

1. I’LL HAVE THE … : Customers who use the self-wash order from a menu of shampoos and conditioners. Dozens of varieties include everything from Mellow Pet with lavender, orange and sage notes to the masculine scent of Mysterious Mate. For $15, they get a bucket with their choice of products and use of shammy, towel, brush and comb. Aprons are available, and each tub has its own dryer. Specialty treatments cost extra, and the store saves money by using concentrated products and mixing for each customer.

2. ALSO AT THE SELF-WASH: Those with frequently dirty dogs can purchase a pass for unlimited baths. Yearly costs $275, with a second family dog costing $175. The summer pass covers Memorial Day through Labor day, and runs $35 for the first dog and $20 for each additional one. Police and military dogs, both active and retired, always bathe for free.


3. FOR THE STAFF: Busch-Heisserer also invests in her staff. In addition to perks like food at cost, other product discounts and free monthly baths, they receive a healthcare membership to a medical facility, offering appointments for free, $10 basic bloodwork and low-cost prescriptions.

4. SCOUT’S HONOR: Employees recently became certified to guide and support members of the local Boy Scout troop who want to earn their pet care badges.

5. TRIVIA TIME: The first Sunday of each month, customers who correctly answer a true-or-false trivia question earn a prize-wheel spin for discounts, free cookies, stickers and other fun stuff. Example question: Military dogs hold a higher rank than their handlers. Answer: True! They are non-commissioned officers one rank higher.




P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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