Nicole Carrillo is pretty new to the pet industry, though she has been in brick and mortar retail for quite a while. “I have had a kitchen boutique store called Mable’s On 4th for 10 years, which we moved to Tucson from Savannah a few years ago. We love the part of town we are in. It’s a lively tourist destination and filled with small shops. I wanted to open another store and saw that the pet industry is growing. So, I launched Rosie’s Barket last summer around the corner from Mabel’s. My husband and I have three poodles, and the eldest is named Rosie, so we named the store after her.
Rosie’s is focused on spoiling your pet, particularly your dog. We carry the fun stuff (no flea control etc). Treats, toys, leashes and collars are the types of products we carry. We also have a self-serve dog wash and a pooch play area where our customers have “pupdates”. While we have a lot of tourists visit our shop, the locals also come by for the dog wash and play area. Since I am new to the pet industry, I am learning as I go. Our goal is to continue to attract more customers who live here by sticking to our boutique vibe, carrying USA-made products and offering 2-3 brands of quality dog food not readily available in the big box stores. We are hoping to open a second location that will completely focus on the local community, offering easy parking, more dog wash tubs and a larger play area.
The number one criterion we use when deciding which products to sell in our store is that they are not sold at big box stores. It seems like manufacturers are beginning to understand the value of small retailers. Our customers do not want 5 million choices! They are looking for thoughtfully made, unique products. In Dog We Trust Collegiate is a supplier who shares this idea with us. Our customers love the University of Arizona products. We are located ½ mile away from campus, so the students, alumni, parents and faculty are a large part of our customer base. Also, Chris is quick to fill orders, ships the product nicely and makes his products in the USA!
Success in the retail business these days means you have to do more than sell products. You must offer a unique experience too. For example, we have a “Show Love” program which raises money for local animal not-for-profits. My husband is an artist, and he designed an enamel tag that we sell for $10 and donate the proceeds to a new charity each month. Then, each time a customer brings in their tag they get 10% off their purchase. We also hold adoption events at our store. We recently raised over $2000 and had 11 dogs adopted at one of our events.
Even though we have only been open for 7 months, we already have regular customers. We take polaroid pictures of their dogs and put them on our wall with their names and ages. It has been fun to watch the puppies grow before our eyes. We also let customers use our play area for dog birthday and adoption parties.
To connect with our customers, we feed our social media accounts every day with interesting content. I feel it is important to be genuine with your message, reflecting the vibe of our store and the people who work here. People want to see real, not perfect. It also helps potential customers understand what it is like to be in OUR store. Best thing I did was buy a smartphone for your store, making it really easy for everyone to take pictures for social media for instantaneous posting!”