A number of questions and concerns were at the forefront of my mind while shopping for a new safety harness and seat belt for my dog, and for quite some time afterward. I knew I wasn’t fully prepared to find the perfect option, I didn’t even have my pup with me to test the products, but I knew I needed a basic option (no bells and whistles needed) that I could trust to keep my pup safe in the back seat. Since we were also experiencing high temperatures at the time, he also wanted to find something to protect his paws outside.
Despite my lack of preparation, I expected to find multiple brand and size options that I could look at and ask questions about, but what I found was a surprisingly limited travel/adventure section (almost non-existent, actually). To make matters worse, she couldn’t even ask questions about the few items on the shelves because there were no floor staff anywhere.
Even if there had been more travel products elsewhere in the decent sized store, there was no one to point me in the right direction until I got to the register. Even then, while the team members at the front of the store were cordial enough, they only confirmed my suspicions that their offering for the type of products I was looking for was seriously lacking.
It’s no secret that staff shortages continue to be a problem in the retail and service industries, and the pet industry is no exception. Something else that has become increasingly apparent to me since joining the workforce and pet business team in particular is the importance of education, guidance and friendly customer service.
In addition to reading, writing, and learning from industry professionals about the importance of making customers feel confident that they are interacting with caring and knowledgeable staff members when they walk into a pet store, I also understand this point as a parent of pets. Although I have been in this industry for over a year, there are many things I do not know, so I am hoping that industry experts will help me ensure that I am buying products that not only meet high quality standards and they are truthful. , but also meet the specific needs of my pets.
Of course, a smaller independent pet store would probably offer a better product selection and provide better customer service, but unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of great independent pet stores where I live, in Long Island, NY That’s surprising , given all the growth experienced within the independent retail channel in recent years, particularly among independent pet store chains like Earthwise Pet Supply, Hollywood Feed, and Woofgang Bakery & Grooming, just to name a few. I don’t understand how that growth hasn’t had a significant impact on my local market, which is quite affluent, densely populated, and full of pets.
But if that gap exists here in the suburbs of a major city like New York, there must be more spread across the country. That’s good news for independent retailers of all shapes and sizes, because those gaps represent opportunities to show pet owners that there’s a better option than the big box outlets that have flooded the country, fueling their own growth in the process. However, you will have to be quick to take advantage of those opportunities, since those gaps will not exist for much longer; At some point, one or more of our industry’s fast-growing independent chains will surely gain a foothold in these underserved markets, and then it may be too late.