Devon-based Redpaw Pet Supplies were crowned Independent Pet Retailer of the Year at the Pet Industry Federation Awards. This week Pet Trade Xtra finds out from owner Sammie Hunt what makes the company stand out from the rest…
When did you open the pet store?
I opened my first shop in 2014 and moved to the current location in 2016, I started my business in 2013, running trade stands at dog shows and agriculture shows.
Was there a pet shop there before?
No, I choose an area in Plymouth which I felt was convenient to customers – but I did not want to be on the high street.
How many people work in the store?
Two full time and one part time – Nadine, Jaycee and Yas.
What's your background?
After working within the animal industry all my life, I became frustrated working for other companies and when my mother became very ill and sadly past away, she inspired me to do what I wanted to do. I'm passionate about animal health and nutrition, and this is where I have some 25 years of experience. When attending dog shows (showing my whippets) I noticed no-one sold natural foods and treats. This is where I started, running at first a small stand selling only quality natural treats. Soon this was doing so well, my poor house was taken over by products and although my dogs were in heaven, I needed my front room back. I then began to look for a storage unit and whilst looking found my first shop. This then grew so quickly, I soon had to move to a bigger unit, where we are now. My experiences in employment includes Ministry of Defence Dog Handler, Dog Training, Animal Nutrition, Meat Production Industry, Health & Safety, Animal Management & Welfare and Animal Grooming.
How do you attract new business?
I strive to stock a great range quality products at sensible prices. I go above and beyond to help customers with nutritional issues, I work with some local vets, behaviourists and dog trainers to help pets with health issues related to nutrition and allergies. It is very important to me, for customers to feel they can come somewhere they can get advice without being pressured into purchasing products. As an independent business it is very important to offer a service that others don't. I'm always researching products and my customers know I'm always up to date with the market.
Do you offer other services as well as selling pet products?
Yes, we do microchipping, nail clipping, and bath and drys. We offer nutritional advice, help with weight loss/gain.
What sets you apart from the rest?
I've stuck to my guns and stayed true to what I believe, that Redpaw is hear to help owners have the most healthy, happy pets possible.
What's the secret of your success?
I drive to be different from our competitors and be the best possible. Launching my own brand products helps me ensure the items we sell are to the highest standards.
What does this award mean to you?
The absolute world. I've worked so hard building my business from a tiny table of treats to what we have grown into in just five years. I never believed we could win, but I'm so proud of my business and team achievements. It has definitely made all the low and very hard moments worthwhile.
What advice would you give to other independent pet shop owners?
Look for the gaps in the market, do your research to what your customers want, and be active with engaging with customers.