Hi everyone! I am Taylor Gonzalez; I am the owner and founder of Three Tails Parlor and Pantry. I am 24 years old and opened my store in Columbia, Illinois—where I was born and raised. Three Tails is located in the center of town right off Main Street, inside you will be greeted with a familiar face and maybe if you’re lucky a large white lab whimpering from excitement of your arrival and begging for a belly rub, while also showing off his favorite toy of the day. As a family owned business and in the community, I was raised, I strive to provide an experience to every customer where they feel like they are a part of our family and to have confidence that we will provide them with only the best care and products for their pets like we would our own.
We offer safe and healthy diets for dogs and cats in frozen, freeze-dried, dehydrated, can and kibble, treats, toys, CBD products, accessories, sympathy gifts, home décor and more. I also have two extremely talented and compassionate pet groomers, that are a valued part of my team, as well as a few part time girls that help make Three Tails what it is today.
Like many small business owners, I wear many hats at Three Tails. Most every day you can find me behind the counter checking customers out, answering the phone to schedule grooming appointments, addressing customer’s questions, assisting a person to select the right toy, treat, chew or maybe even a new diet followed by loading it in to the car for them. Aside from my daily sales tasks, I do the research on new products that we bring in, ordering and inventory, marketing, training and event planning. Some days you might even catch me doing plumbing or electrical chores — when your grooming room floods or your entire light fixture falls (yes, both have happened) you do what you have to do!
How and when did you start your business? Was it inspired by a pet?
In December of 2018, just two weeks before graduating with my bachelor’s degree in marketing, the purchase of my business basically fell in my lap. Growing up, I always had a deep love for animals—a trait I most definitely inherited from my mom, Renee. My mom’s passion for animals put her in the position to purchase a rural feed store back in 2008. Over the last 14 years, she transformed her store, Waterloo Feed and Pet Supply, from a livestock feed store to a small-town pet superstore offering food, grooming, training and everything in between. After the purchase of my very own store, we decided to rebrand her store and begin my store under the same name which is when Three Tails Parlor and Pantry was born. Three Tails is inspired by our three labs, Samson, our 10-year-old chocolate lab, Sawyer, our rescue “middle child” 3-year-old black lab/hound mix, and the baby Scout our 3-year-old white lab. In fact, our logo is actually their tails. I love them with my entire heart, thinking about losing one of them fuels why I do what I do every day.
Do you have a pet(s) that joins you at work, what are their names and roles?
Earlier I mentioned being greeted by a white lab upon entering my store, that’s Scout and a familiar face around town. You can often find him riding shotgun in my car and our town parades. Many customers don’t even come to see me anymore, they simply just stop in to say hi to Scout some days. He is my best friend; he is sweet, empathetic, obedient—quite possibly one of those, once in a lifetime dogs. I would hope for everyone to have a dog like Scout once in their lifetime.
Scout isn’t the only familiar furry face at Three Tails. Just recently added to our family is my store kitty, Nellie. I walked into our local animal shelter and asked which cat had been there the longest. Nellie had been at the shelter for 684 days. When they brought her in, she was pregnant, but her kittens had long been adopted. She even nursed an orphan kitten back to health. Now, after a lifetime of caring for others, this little mama sat alone in a room all by herself. It only took a few seconds to know she was meant to be a part of our Three Tails family
What makes your business or brand unique?
Honestly, I would have to say what makes us unique is my partnership with my mom. While most would say they could never work with their family, we actually make a pretty good team. The difference between generations may cause obstacles at times, like my mom’s inability to use technology (haha sorry, mom) but we use it to our advantage. Companies are trying to target their “ideal customer” of a millennial through endless hours of research, this comes second nature to me because, I am a one. On the other hand, my mom understands the mindset of her generation and how they think and what they want. She has been running an extremely successful business for 14 years therefore, she knows what works and doesn’t work due to past experiences in our industry.
How does what you offer help pet lovers like you?
There are so many different products in the pet industry, far too many that are dangerous and even deadly. It is very overwhelming to navigate the industry to find out what to give our pets. I always assure my customers; I do the extensive research for them and anything you find in my shop would be something I would give my own pets. If I do not know, I will find out to help them and help future customers with the same concern.
What have been some of your biggest challenges in running your business? How did you overcome them?
I would say one of the biggest challenges is employees. Finding hardworking, trustworthy and passionate workers is hard and honestly exhausting. My mom and I recently joined Pet Boss Nation, which is a coaching and consulting community for pet industry business owners. This organization has helped me tremendously in several different areas of business, but especially team building. It opened my eyes to different methods of hiring, what to look for, how to properly train, motivate and keep a team you want representing your business. We LOVE Pet Boss Nation and look up to so many of the leading owners in this group like Remy!
What qualities have made you successful or do you feel are important for inspiring leaders?
Passion. Do not let anyone ever tell you that you lack the ability to do something you’re passionate about, especially not yourself. I often heard, and honestly still hear, discouraging jabs that I was too young to run a business, people won’t spend that much money on their pets, small businesses cannot compete with big box stores, and sometimes even just the fact that what I do just isn’t that important. Find what you’re passionate about, go fight for it with your whole heart and don’t ever give up—you will never lose.
Any advice/recommendations concerning your field of expertise that could benefit pets and/or a pet parent’s life?
Always advocate for your pet, always! Do the research on their diet, toys, treats, grooming or boarding facility, vaccines, preventives that you give your pet. If you have questions or concerns, find out the answers. The stigma of “it’s just a dog” or “it’s just a cat” is absurd. Their health is just as important as ours and any of our other family members and they rely on us to do best by them, please don’t let them down.
Where can someone get more information about your business?