The nature of pet shops is changing. The sale of live animals is rapidly being replaced with services related to animal care and maintenance.
We’re seeing new business models, partnerships with animal shelters, non-profit organizations and positive engagement with local people and their communities. This is getting a lot of positive media coverage. But what type of coverage are local pet shops getting? How do they manage to get it? And how could this contribute to the health of animals?
Those are a few of the questions we asked ourselves a few weeks back. We figured that positive media stories would not only benefit the shops concerned, but also show animal care in a great light.
So we decided to take a closer look. We found some amazing stories and some great ideas for getting media coverage of your own, if you happen to be in the pet business.
Pet shop owners with great personalities
The media loves larger-than-life personalities who speak with enthusiasm about their passion. It’s a skill that can be learned and can bring some fantastic rewards, as these examples show.
South County pet shop among best of RI
Owner Johnna Devereaux gives an enthusiastic interview in the video piece, as anchor Will Gilbert comes to visit—accompanied of course, by his Labrador, Luna.
And Johnna was just as enthusiastic when we caught up with her. She told Rover, “If you believe in what you do, and believe in the products you carry, you have to put yourself out there and show all the goodness you offer.”
“I’m a big advocate of writing down your goals. Before I opened the store I wrote down a list of goals and one of them was that I wanted to win Best of Rhode Island by 2017. So to have become a winner before I was open even a year gives me goosebumps! We love our animals and we will do whatever we can to make your animals happy. We’re also big advocates of adoption.”
As well as telling this great personal story, the piece shows the great products in the store and highlights the concentration on products made in the US.
Economy of scales: How a reptile-focused pet shop does business
Economy of Scales (love that title!) focuses on how the pet shop industry has changed over the last 4 decades. Live animals are now the smallest sales category for pet stores nationwide. Instead, they make their profit on products and services related to maintenance and care.
The article sees the changes in the pet industry through the eyes of pet shop veteran Bruce Delles, who founded Twin Cities Reptiles 38 years ago. He tells the Minnesota Post that “small shops can’t compete on price against the big boxes.”
“What separates us is the quality of our animals, the knowledge for staff and that we are willing to work with people rather than push something on them,” Delles explains.
Stories about business issues
Many owners don’t approach the media because they think their business is too boring or too small to attract their attention. But that’s just not true. Businesses are inherently interesting because of the people behind them. Stories about entrepreneurship, self-discovery and risk taking—all to fulfill a dream—make great news copy. Check out these examples.
Tyler pet shop owner peddles natural products
“I knew that I wanted to be around dogs, and I wanted to be around dog lovers. I just didn’t know how to do it.”
The chance to work with animals came when she and her husband relocated from Michigan to Texas.
There, she was shocked to find high numbers of homeless animals and started working with fellow animal lovers to boost adoption rates.
It’s soon dawned on her that there was a demand for natural, high-quality products for animal care and nutrition. And so the idea formed for what it is now her three-year-old business, Life with Pets.
Add to that a focus on health and nature, an attractive shop with great photo potential and you have a wonderful media story.
Rover asked Pam what advice she would give to other pet shop owners. Pam laughs, “Free media is a nice benefit and it works better than advertising.”
“Step out there and go for it – the media is always looking for good stories.”
Scottsdale pet shop banks on shaky crowdfunding law
Chasing after a potential new source of funding won coverage for Villa La Paws Resort and Spa in this article, Scottsdale pet shop banks on shaky crowdfunding law.
The crowdfunding initiative from Villa La Paws is used by the newspaper to highlight a potential new source of funding for businesses in Arizona. Rather than just report the pending legislation, the story seeks to illustrate the story with a business looking to benefit as a result.
According to Jeanne Murray, owner of Villa La Paws Pet Resort & Spa, the article kickstarted quite a bit of interest among the Spa’s current customer base and community partners. “That was exactly what we wanted…to give our existing community an opportunity to invest in a company they were already familiar with.”
And this type of media coverage is import to Murray. “We’ve always had success when we either try to tie into something timely whether that’s a holiday, trending story, or season. You have to have a compelling story not just a sales pitch.”
“We like to highlight customer stories or involve local rescue organizations in our media outreach when possible. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the subject always revolves around adorable dogs!”
Stories about involvement in the community
For local pet shops, involvement with the local community is one way to build their reputation, cement relationships in their neighborhood and get some decent local media coverage.
And there are many ways to do so—running events, encouraging other small businesses, partnering with animal rescue organizations, and even offering scholarships to local kids. These pet shops have done all of the above.
Loyal Pet Shop opened in Rockridge with special guest, pet artist Kendrra
Barbara Weglein, owner of the Loyal Pet Shop, told Rover how inviting a local pet artist to her official opening turned out to be a masterstroke.
“When we opened we wanted to be part of the local community and support other small businesses. That’s why we are invited local pet artist, Kendrra to be a guest at our opening—and because she’d be able to do her fabulous pet drawings for our customers.
”The event attracted a lot of attention, not only from the local pet owners but also from one particular journalist, Cindy Arner.”
As a result, the pet shop got great coverage in this article, LOYAL Pet Shop opened in Rockridge with special guest, pet artist Kendrra.
And how did Barbara attract the attention of the reporter?
“We didn’t directly approach the reporter. It was just a simple chalk countdown sign that caught her attention as she walked by, and in she came and asked if she could write about us. That sign was completely low-tech but it worked!”
Commitment to the community is not a one-off event, but an ongoing mission for the Loyal pet shop.
“We’ve teamed up with the Hopalong Animal Hospital and Second Chance Animal Rescue, both local facilities. And so far we’ve helped 47 cats and kittens find loving the new homes.”
Regina pet shop looking for new homes for bearded dragons
When Stuart Cook received a delivery of 8 bearded dragons from a local animal rescue, he sought to find homes for the exotic animals through the local press.
Here’s just one of the media stories he secured, Regina pet shop looking for new homes for bearded dragons:
Local pet shop offers scholarship
The Grooming Place Pet Shop in Chester offered a 10-week scholarship to the Baltimore School of Grooming. And on completion, the graduate will be hired!
This is a simple story that earned some healthy coverage.
And one from our friends across the pond
When an employee at PetsAtHome got a spoof letter from ‘Henry Bear the Border Terrier’ complaining about being bought a dog coat by its owner, he acted quickly.
He went with the spoof and sent a heartfelt apology along with a £25 voucher to be spent only on toys. His reply went viral and won national coverage for Pets at Home.
Sometimes all you need to get media coverage is a sense of humor!