Revealed: the secrets of success of the UK's Pet Retailer of the Year
It has been a remarkable two years for Wags & Whiskers Pet Boutique since the store opened in Stockton-on-Tees just two years ago. Starting from a tiny unit in a council-run facility before moving to its own premises six months later and then opening a second store, the business has now been crowned UK Pet Retailer of the Year at the PetQuip Awards.
Managing director Carl Shepherdson reveals how his team has delivered so much in such a short space of time...
What does the award mean to you?
We have worked so hard since opening just under two years ago. It’s really nice to have some recognition for all the hard work.
What sets the store apart from others?
We only stock the very best food, treats and accessories for dogs and cats. All of our food and treats are made with human grade ingredients, free of colourings, preservatives and additives. Lots of the accessories we stock are made by other small UK based businesses. We have regular events in the stores such as pug parties, Chihuahua parties, in-store nutrition days, pet photo shoots and more. Every dog that visits our store is given a treat and has their photograph taken for our social media. Customers love visiting our stores, not just for the fantastic range of products but for the whole experience.
How many people work in the store?
Six between two stores, and we are open seven days a week.
Are they all animal lovers?
Absolutely, the main reason I started the business was for my own dog Maggie (Yorkshire terrier aged 4). You can visit your large chain superstores and local pet shops, but it’s all very much the same stuff and lots of it wasn’t nutritious or healthy for her. All our staff have dogs and cats of their own.
How did it all start?
We opened our doors in October 2013 from the Stockton Borough Council Enterprise Arcade – a facility to test trade in a low risk environment. After six months successful trading we made the decision to move into our own premises in Stockton Town Centre. In August we opened our second store in Saltburn by the Sea.
How do you keep your customers loyal?
Our customers are very, very loyal. Since opening we have done very little paid advertising. Most of our custom comes from recommendations. Our stores are warm and inviting, they don’t have the traditional pet shop smell, they are bright, not cluttered, there is no typical slat wall set-up. Nutrition is a big thing for us, we like to educate customers into what you feed your dog plays a big part in the dogs health and wellbeing. Our customers have really appreciated this, as they’ve seen a massive difference in their pets.
What kind of events do you run?
We hold events on a regular basis. We have Christmas photo shoots starting this Saturday with a local pet photographer in-store. A full list of events can be found at:
What are the secrets of your success
Not sure if I should be giving our secrets away. Seriously, we make customers enjoy the whole shopping experience, go the extra mile for them and hold regular events.
To find out more visit www.wagsandwhiskerspetboutique.co.uk
Pictured, top: The Wags & Whiskers team of Faye, Karla, Carl and Peter (on the left of the picture) receive their PATS Award.
Above: The second store at Saltburn by the Sea.
Below: Gallery of pictures from the Stockton store.