How pet shop got listed in Top 100 small businesses
The Pet Shed, a small pet shop set up by animal lover Hannah James in Brighton, has been named among the 100 small businesses in the UK to be celebrated by Small Business Saturday, the campaign that culminates in the UK’s dedicated day for small businesses on December 3.
This week Hannah reveals the secrets of the store's success.
The shop, which has been open for nearly three years, doesn’t actually stock pets but concentrates instead on offering the best and most natural pet food, treats, toys and accessories. It offers a number of ranges of dog treat biscuits, small dog collars and leads and a range of dog harnesses that are all supplied by small businesses.
What made you give up accountancy to run a pet shop?
I had always wanted to work for myself but never had that 'eureka' moment until my local pet shop came up for sale. I have always had pets and my 'collection' had grown over the years to include chickens, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, snakes ad turkeys. Owning my own pet shop sounded like the perfect way to combine my passion for animals with my desire to run my own business. All my friends and family were very supportive and encouraging so I knew it would be the right thing to do.
Is it true you tried to buy your local pet shop when it came up for sale?
I did, but when it came down to it I wasn't able to raise the money needed to purchase an existing business. This is where the idea to open one from scratch came. It gave me the opportunity to set the shop up the way I wanted to. To stock the right products that match my philosophy of healthy and natural food, toys and treats.
Did you always intend to stock natural and eco-friendly products?
Yes, I try and eat as naturally and ethically myself and it made so much sense for me to set the shop up the same way.
How did customers, and potential customers, react to this kind of approach?
Most were very accepting of it. My shop is a nice (middle class) area of Brighton and customers understand the benefits of feeding their pets a good quality nutritional diet.
Do you think pet owners are becoming more interested in feeding their animals with more natural products?
Absolutely. More and more customers question what is in their pets food. They read the labels and often do their research on line.
How do you feel to be listed as a Top 100 small business?
Excited, humbled and chuffed to bits!
Do you have pets now?
Opening the shop and working for myself has enabled me to get my own dog for the first time ever. She's called Bourbon.
Has the pet store peformed better than expected, especially in challenging times?
To be honest I had no idea if it would even work, but two and half years down the line I am still here!
Do employ any staff?
I have one girl who does one day a week for me. She has been with me since February last year, another girl that does a few hours and a delivery driver (I am hoping to expand the delivery service). I have also been lucky enough to have two Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteers for a few weeks and have a work experience lad starting in September.
How do you make sure your store can compete with the big pet superstores and grocery outlets?
By being different and focusing on customer service. Many people have the misconception that small independent businesses are more expensive (this isn't actually the case) so to counteract this I try to ensure that each customer leaves the shop happy and wanting to come back again. I get to know the customers and their pets and make sure I give them the best advise when they ask for it. I also stock a wide range of foods, treats and accessories that are not available in pet supermarkets and grocery outlets from local businesses and small independents like me.
Have you got plans for future expansion?
Not at the moment but my dream would be to open a bigger shop in the same area with room for a dog creche, puppy parties, dog friendly cafe, grooming and animal treatment rooms!
For more information about The Pet Shed visit www.thepetshedbrighton.co.uk