Global Pet Expo Honors Retailer Excellence
Global Pet Expo and Pet Business magazine honored 10 outstanding independent pet specialty retailers at Thursday's Retailer Excellence Awards presentation.
Odyssey Pets, Loyal Biscuit Co. and Kriser’s Natural Pet took the top honors at the fourth-annual Retailer Excellence Awards presentation, which was sponsored by Coastal Pet Products. The awards ceremony was hosted by Global Pet Expo and Pet Business magazine. The Retailer Excellence Awards recognize outstanding independent pet specialty retailers in a variety of categories, including:
Best Overall Single-Store Retailer
Sponsored by Wholesalepet.com
Odyssey Pets - Dallas
Best Overall Retailer (2-10 Stores)
Loyal Biscuit Co. - Rockland, Maine
Best Overall Retailer (10+ Stores)
Kriser’s Natural Pet - Santa Monica, Calif.
Best Live Animal Retailer
Sponsored by Cobalt Aquatics
The Wet Spot Tropical Fish - Portland, Ore.
Sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods
Katie’s Pet Depot - North Brunswick, N.J.
Sponsored by Pet King Brands
Ruff Life Pet Outfitters - Petoskey, Mich.
Community Service Excellence
Sponsored by PetRageous Designs
Barks, Bones & Biscuits Bakery - Mint Hill, N.C.
Customer Service Excellence
Sponsored by Ark Naturals
Two Bostons - Naperville, Ill.
Store Design Excellence
Planet Tails - Naples, Fl.
Brookside Barkery & Bath - Kansas City, Mo.
At the awards ceremony, Odyssey Pets owners Sherry Redwine and Michael Doan were excited about being honored as one of the industry’s outstanding retailers and said that their Retailer Excellence Award serves not only as validation for their past efforts, but also as fuel to drive their business forward. “We work very hard, and to get this type of recognition is great,” said Redwine. “It really encourages us to keep it up.”
The husband and wife team said they could not have come this far without the support of their staff, but when talking about the team responsible for the success of Odyssey Pets, the conversation does not stop with the store employees. According to Doan, suppliers also play an integral role. “We cultivate great relationships with our vendors,” he said. “We really make an effort to get to know our reps, and they become part of the family.”
Melody Knowlton, manager of Loyal Biscuit Co., also pointed to a committed staff and close vendor relationships when explaining what is necessary to achieve success in the retail pet industry. However, she went on to note that the four-store chain would not be where it is today without a loyal shopper base. “We couldn’t do it without the love and support of our customers,” she said.
Loyal Biscuit Co. works hard to earn that support by concentrating on what really matters—the well-being of pets. “Our entire staff loves animals and is focused on promoting pet health,” said Knowlton, explaining that nutrition plays a key role. “Our knowledge of healthy pet food and treats really sets us apart.”
The chain also shows its commitment to the neighborhoods it serves by giving back to pets in need. According to Knowlton, Loyal Biscuit Co. is a staunch supporter of any pet-related cause in its local communities, including animal shelters.
Brookside Barkery & Bath is another retailer that is strongly committed to supporting local animal shelters. According to general manager Tom Allen, this commitment is part of the store’s award-winning marketing strategy. “We believe in brand building through outreach,” he explained. “We use the resources that we have to support the community. For example, we recently donated more than 6,000 pounds of food to a local organization in Kansas City called Chain of Hope,” said Allen.
Of course, community outreach is just one aspect of Brookside Barkery & Bath’s marketing efforts, which focus on projecting a professional image for the business’ two stores. “We are serious about what we do, and we take pets’ needs seriously,” said owner Delena Stout. “Our slogan is ‘Do what’s best for your best friend.’”
Led by marketing director Jason Heck and graphic designer Steve Flores, whom Stout describes as “the backbone” of the stores marketing, Brookside Barkery & Bath has built a talented in-house staff made up of individuals with strengths ranging from hosting events to utilizing social media to delivering a high level of customer service.
Not surprisingly, customer service is a key component of the success of Katie’s Pet Depot, this year’s winner of the Multi-Service Excellence Award. According to storeowners Vincent and Linda Sheehan, it is a desire to fulfill every need of pets and their owners that has driven them to develop a comprehensive menu of services. “We want to provide as many products and services as possible, because we have a passion for animals and our customers,” said Linda Sheehan. “And we have the knowledge and the quality products they need.”
As this year’s Best Live Animal Retailer, keeping pets healthy and happy takes on a whole other dimension at The Wet Spot Tropical Fish. In order to consistently provide its customers with high-quality, healthy pets, the store must vigilantly care for the animals in its charge—something that can only happen with the right staff, said owners Marcie Rivera and Steve Lundblad. “Our staff loves the animals, and it shows in how they care for them and how they sell them,” explained Rivera.
This in-store care and conscientious sales strategy, combined with the business’ access to quality animals, has paid off with a very big customer following for the store. “It’s not about the money,” said Lundblad. “It’s about helping customers have quality aquariums and be successful pet owners.”
This article originally published in the official Global Pet Expo Show Daily on March 6, 2015.