Revealed: the secrets of success of the UK's Pet Retailer of the Year
Tails 'n' Whiskers pet store in Oakham, Rutland, has only been open for three-and-a-half years but this week it was crowned UK Pet Retailer of the Year at the PetQuip Awards. Owner Tony Sharpe, who runs a second store called Pets Korner in nearby Stamford, reveals how independent pet retailers can achieve success in today's challenging times.
What does the award mean to you?
The award means a great deal to us, to be recognised by the industry and also for other small independents like ourselves to aim high.
What sets the store apart from others?
We hope we are different by the care and attention to detail we give to our customers, and stocking products that are not available in the bigger chain stores.
How many people work in the store?
We have two full time members of staff.
Are they all animal lovers?
Yes they are animal lovers, how could they not be?
How did it all start?
We had been looking for an opportunity to open another shop in addition to our Pets Korner shop in Stamford, and asked around a few other shop owners if they knew of any premises in Oakham coming up for occupancy. Luckily one of them did, and contacted us.
Are there similarities between the two stores?
We stock a lot of the same products in both shops, but there are quite a few of different items in each shop, according to what customers are asking for. Some things sell better in one shop than the other.
Do you allow the store manager to influence things at Oakham?
Paul Croft, our manager in Oakham, has total control over stock and ordering, and we regularly meet up to discuss products.
How do you keep your customers loyal?
Hopefully we keep loyalty by great customer service and getting to know our customers and what they need from us, some of our food suppliers have loyalty schemes for their food and this helps us beat off the competition.
What kind of events do you run?
We help organise an annual dog show every year for charity, and this year we are sponsoring a Santa fun run in Burghley Park in December for charity, prizes for the best dressed dog.
What are the secrets of your success?
Watch the prices, don’t rest on your laurels, be the best you can be and enjoy doing it.
Tony Sharpe was invited to give a talk to visitors of PATS Telford.
Above, Tony (left) and wife Sandra receive the PetQuip Award from sponsor John Pullen of Petface.