Wednesday, April 20, 2005

pet stuff

Running a pet store is no petty task, despite our name - Petty Pets.

In the two months since we reopened, we have spent much time, effort and money revitalizing the concept of a store devoted to small animals.

One of the first things we did was to create more room so that the danger of overcrowding is averted. Animals do not live happily when they are foot and paw against each other. Overcrowding leads to sickness and general torpor - not exactly how people envision happy bunnies.

We also made certain that water was available 24/7. The law requires this anyway and the reason is obvious. Despite the mall's cool air, animals dehydrate.

We talked to a lot of suppliers, the people who provide us with the animals and sundry that we sell. So now we have rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, pinto mice, lobsters, fighting fish, brine shrimp, turtles, African lovebirds, and harlequin parakeets. I'm looking into sourcing for spiders, butterflies, salamanders or geckos, and something like shrews, if they are permitted to be sold (I passed on gerbils because, well, they look like giant white mice with pink hairless tails). This means coordinating with different people for different animals for delivery on different days, so the scheduling alone is quite a challenge.

We also sell supplies, so we go out and get cages, exercise wheels, various foods and pellets, aquariums, fishbowls, colored stones, bird perches, clay pots, cuttlefish bones and so on. My business partner and I make trips to places like Divisoria and Kartimar to look for new items we can position in the store. Tomorrow, for example, we're off to look for toys (for cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.).

I am also constantly improving the look of the store, thinking of ways to create a customer experience and for them to repeat purchases. This part involves creating signage, POP (point of purchase) materials, flyers and leaflets, shelf talkers, "menu" boards and price lists - plus creating promotions and other marketing actions. Promo development and marketing are some of the things I get paid to do for other people so I'm happy to do it for myself (though sometimes closeness to my business effectively blinds me, so I consult with other businessmen). I talk to my customers in an effort to better understand the needs and mentality of my market. This is invaluable in developing material that targets them as well as a means for feedback.

Expanding the business means creating alternate revenue streams. One of these is our creation of party packages wherein we provide multiple sets of animals (i.e. turtles in bowls) for someone's event. We filled our first order and tackled the issue of packaging - ending up creating die-cut special packaging for the sets.

Growing up, I never envisioned myself being possessed by an entrepreneurial spirit, but life is strange and you adjust. So now I look for opportunities, watch how other businessfolk do things, ask questions and maintain the attitude of someone willing to learn.

Owning a pet store required me to learn a new business fast, and I still have a long way to go.


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