Please tell us about your company and why you started your business.
The Hungry Puppy was founded in 1987. Back in those early years it was a unique model to have a pet supply store without having to sell pets in order to get folks to come to you. Around that time there were unique products that manufacturers were bringing to market through this new specialty pet channel. My partner, Teresa (also my wife) and I saw this industry emerging while still both working in New York City. We became exposed to the industry and the opportunity it presented at that time because we were showing Newfoundland’s and were feeding a brand of dog food (Bench and Field) only available at pet specialty stores. One of the things that we hated to do was to have to travel 10 miles to the pet store once a month (on a Saturday no less) and purchase 100 lbs. of dog food and lug it home. We would think to ourselves of how great it would be to just have it delivered to us. It was that chore that ultimately prompted our taking a dive head first into the business of retail pet food and supplies.
Our situation is a little different than for most business owners. When we moved to our current building in 1993 we were fortunate enough to find a facility that not only accommodated a retail store but also provided us with an apartment above our store that was already here when we purchased the property.
Do you have a pet(s) that join you at work, what are their names and roles?
Our pets currently consist of two 9 year old blue nose Pitbull’s (a brother and sister team) named Stones and Sparkles. Both were given up for adoption at separate times due to their previous owner’s circumstances. We also have a 16 year old Havernese named Mikey as well as a 28 year old blue and gold parrot named Captain. Although none of our pets interact directly with our customers they are part of our team upstairs in our offices. One of the primary benefits for living and working in the same place is that we get to interact with them throughout the day and they get the stimulation of being with our team members. In fact it’s not uncommon for them to sit in on meetings with staff and vendors throughout the day. Their job titles are Chief Treat Testers.
What makes your business or brand unique?We believe our brand is unique in the pet specialty space. While most independent pet specialty retailers hang their hat on educating the customer primarily on pet nutrition, we take the approach of making the experience of shopping with us fun. One of the ways we accomplish this is by having a dog park attached to our store. This venue is available free 24/7 to the community and provides us the ability to hold several dozen events throughout the year. Our intent to enhance the relationship that folks have with their pet. This is one way that we strive to be a part of that relationship either through events that we offer.
Our company mission is to assist and serve in enhancing the relationship that folks have with their pets. That could be in the form of one of the services that we have to offer, whether it is for dog training or behavioral consultations, veterinary services or taking advantage of our free delivery program for the products that we sell. Or as mentioned it may be one of the dozens of events that we hold throughout the year, from our annual Easter Biscuit Hunt to our Puppy Nuptials (Pup Nups) our mission is to create a community of folks who want to enhance and share in the relationship they have with their pet. Lastly, a lot folks are initially attracted to our store because of our product selection and our competitive pricing. Sometimes it may be the simple ability to purchase specialty pet products from us more affordably than Chewy or Amazon that fosters a relationship.
What have been some of your biggest challenges in running your business? How did you overcome them?
One of our biggest challenges is choosing which products to sell. Today there are so many wonderful products that are available for our pets but we don’t have the space to effectively showcase them in our store. It does create some angst on the part of our team in bringing what we believe are the best products available to our customers. On the flip side of that equation is that we get to enjoy the benefit of being a smaller family owned company surrounded by larger competitors which allows us to pivot faster in bringing new and innovative products to our customers.
What qualities have made you successful or do you feel are important for inspiring leaders?
The willingness and the ability to truly serve the needs of our customers and our community. Whether it be education, entertainment, training advice, medical services, unique products, delivery services… everything revolves around how we could enhance the relationship our customer has with their pet.
Where can someone get more information about your business?\
We have a list of events and happenings at The Hungry Puppy throughout the year in addition to new products that we have brought in and different specials and coupons available in our store.
To request more information folks could email us at firstname.lastname@example.org