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Indie Pet Business Owners Share Highs and Lows of 2020 (So Far)

Of course, COVID-19 played a part in many.

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In a recent Brain Squad survey, we asked members to share recent highs and lows. Many of the lows involve COVID-19, of course, but there were just as many highs to balance out the year (so far) for many.

Here’s a sampling of responses:

Katherine Ostiguy, Crossbones Dog Academy, Providence, RI

High point: Business is doing well despite COVID-19.

Low point: I am totally exhausted because business has been doing well since COVID-19, with little-to-no opportunities for R&R because I can’t travel because of COVID-19!

Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL

High point: A trainer we work with now brings in the “group” for ice cream pawties, posting pix on their Facebook page. Brings us more business.

Low point: Losing many customers to online shopping because of the pandemic.

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Nancy Guinn, Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg, VA

High point: Our faithful employees.

Low point: New hires taking advantage of the unemployment benefits and trying to stay home.

Cecelia Michaels, Lickin’ Good Whole Pet Food, Park Rapids, MN

High point: We’ve gained more customers.

Low point: We can’t see their faces due to COVID-19.

Heather Campbell, Bow Wow & Woofs, Blaine, WA

High point: A customer who brought in 6-feet distance floor signs.

Low point: Sadly, being called names, that cannot be printed, for asking people to don a mask.

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Jan Hopper, Living Pawsitively, Lafayette, NJ

High point: New customers due to people moving out of the city and into the country, where we are located.

Low point: Losing customers who don’t leave their house often due to the coronavirus and began shopping online.

Penny Murano, Unleashed, New London, NH

High point: Having customers in the store again!

Low point: Feeling that we are not able to give the level of customer service we usually do. We are trying to respect the customers’ social distancing needs and try to help as much as we can without getting into their “space.” It’s hard to talk to someone about food when they don’t want you close to them.

Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT

High point: People are traveling, and we are getting boarding clientele. I continue only to look thirty days out and find that has been a good strategy. Wag Central is still thriving.

Low point: I had my first client dog pass away in my care. The owner hadn’t shared that the dog was ill. It was scary, sad and a learning experience.

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Mona Straub Just Fur Fun, Boca Raton, FL

High point: Knowing customers are still spending money.

Low point: So many events are being cancelled.

Matthew O’Leary, Felix & Oscar, Springfield, VA

High point: Being up over last July (5.5 percent) despite having a decrease in customer traffic (15 percent).

Low point: Being down in customer traffic, definitely due to our complicated parking lot. We are in a strip mall with a Chik-Fil-A drive-thru in the middle of our parking lot, and it’s constantly packed and nearly all our customers complain. Landlord, department of transportation, county supervisors all want nothing to do with it.

Dana Rice, Dog Wild Pet Supplies & Resort, Cooperstown, NY

High point: Having some tourists back and hearing them say what a nice store we have.

Low point: Still wondering if we’re going to have enough sales to make ends meet once the Cares Act initiatives are gone.

Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA

High point: Getting closer to expansion progress. Can’t wait to spread out a bit and breathe easier, being able to merchandise again!

Low point: Dealing with COVID-19 issues like masks. It is soul crushing losing customers over them not wanting to wear a mask. I hate seeing them leave mad because they are trying to make a stand. Fortunately, it hasn’t been many yet, but we just barely started insisting, even if they have a medical reason. (We are offering private appointments, curbside and delivery). Also, the negative comments on social media on all kinds of posts from people trying to make a stand or a political statement. Isn’t there enough stress right now? They have to be negative on a cute puppy picture? Really?!

Lisa Boegl, Eldorado Country Pet & Wild Bird, Santa Fe, NM

High point: Watching sales return to and ultimately exceed pre-COVID-19.

Low point: I have been working so hard to get customers back into my store that I have time for nothing else, including reading PETS+! I look forward to stabilizing and getting a minute to catch my breath.

Cory Giles, The General Store, Collinsville, IL

High point: The continued growth of our business.

Low point: Trying to plan for the rest of the year with all the uncertainty of whatever COVID-19-related and economic hardships await us all.

Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA

High point: Getting away from work for a long weekend — turned off the email, ignored social media — and having our staff kill it over the weekend we were gone!

Low point: Losing a valuable shift lead to resignation because of ongoing health issues that make it unsafe for her to work. And now having to hire!

Christine McCoy, McCoy Feed & Pet Supply, Midland, NC

High point: Having our customers tell us how much they love coming back in to shop and bringing their dogs. They really missed that with curbside only.

Low point: There’s no end in site for this COVID-19 mess. We can’t seem to see when we will once again be able to operate like we did in the past.

Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond RI

High point: Realizing, once again, how amazing my employees are. They are a part of the soul of Fetch RI, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without them.

Low point: Realizing, once again, that no matter how great my team is, they always need me to be the backbone, and I have to never let them know when I’m nervous about the changes COVID-19 has brought to our business.

Caroline Gunther, Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique, Hendersonville, NC

High point: We are busy!

Low point: We are so busy it’s almost unmanageable. I just hired more staff.

Lorin Grow, Furry Face, Inc, Redlands, CA

High point: Every time a customer expresses appreciation for us “being here” and open.

Low point: When threatened that we could be sued for requiring a mask to enter. It’s a state mandate, of which a failure to comply can result in fines, permit suspension and even permit revocation.

Wendy Megyese, Muttigan, Emerald Isle, NC

High point: I received a card from one of my team members. It is folded in a certain way that when closed says “You are Terrifying.” When it is open, it says “You are a terrific boss. I am really enjoying the comfortable work environment you foster.” It meant so much to me, I put it on my dresser where I can see it on a daily basis.

Low point: A customer commented on the sign on our door regarding masks and said that it should be “more forceful.” Thankfully I wasn’t there when he made the comment, but after I heard about it, I retreated to my car and let out a long and very cathartic scream.

Brett Foreman, euPAWria Holistic Pet Center, Owego, NY

High point: The steady return of customers who want to get out the house and shop, and chat.

Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH

Low point: I had to terminate a two-year employee for being aggressive with a Doodle puppy. Definitely a low point.

Adrian Archie, petNmind, Coconut Creek, FL

High point: We are still kicking during COVID-19. We are fortunate to be in a good area where customers still have disposable income.

Low point: staffing issues. COVID-19 has created a staffing bottleneck. Older employees are afraid to work, and younger employees require training and they periodically leave.

Not yet a member of the PETS+ Brain Squad? What are you waiting for?! It’s the easiest way to have your business featured in PETS+, and you get a cool T-shirt after completing your first survey. Sign up today!

Pamela Mitchell is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Ty the Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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