An interview with Shirleen Dubuque of Village Critter Outfitter, a New Canaan, CT independent pet store owner.
There is nothing like having a trusted source to turn to when purchasing food/treats for your pet. That’s what independent pet stores are all about. Pet Owners in New Canaan, CT have Shirleen Dubuque of Village Critter Outfitter. Meet Shirleen and learn just some of the differences between the Big Box stores and the personal touch of the Independent Pet Stores.
All of the Pet Food Professionals listed on TruthaboutPetFood.com (Find Healthy Pet Food) are asked the same list of questions. It’s our way to show pet owners the true difference between Big Box and Independent. Meet Nina…
How/why did you open a pet food store? (Is there a personal story of a pet food harming one of your own pets?…Motivations of you starting this business?)
I have owned many pets throughout my lifetime. I knew there was a better way to care for our animals and wanted to be able to pass that on to people who were searching for the same thing I had been. I wanted to make a difference in animals lives by providing resources to their guardians to make healthier choices for their companion animals.
What do you see as the difference between your store and a Big Box Pet Store?
By far, our staff. They listen and want to help the animal, not sway sales to fill the big box pockets with the ‘deal of the week’.
What advantages do you provide to Pet Owners?
The same familiar, knowledgeable, caring staff are there to greet you with highly superior products to choose from.
What are some of the frustrations you have about the (mis)information your customers have been exposed to about pet food and nutrition?
They are easily swayed by the uneducated. Every dog is an individual, not all foods work for every dog. And the uneducated don’t read labels. And….the vets! Selling crap food to keep the sick cycle going so the dog continually returns to the vet because they cannot get well. Nutrition is often overlooked as the main reason for our sick animals.
How much of your job is nutritional education and counseling?
Do you offer seminars or other continuing education opportunities through your store?
Not right now, but putting some plans together now probably through the website.
Do you have some success stories to share about how good nutrition has helped customers to eliminate health problems?
In general, people are so delighted to have come in, laid out the problem after many other gimmicks, we listened intently, came up with a reasonable solution and the animal’s problem went away or was relieved in some way. We hear this all the time with the raw food diet, especially.
How did you choose your foods, or what defines foods that you will agree to carry?
It has to read well that includes quality ingredients and must be different from what we already carry.
And what makes you decide against a certain food?
Sometimes manufacturer, definitely a poor ingredient panel.
Would you be willing to eliminate a certain popular food if something changed about it that you didn’t like?
Absolutely – and we have.
What sort of thing would that be that would make you do this?
Change in ingredients, possibly a recall.
How would you handle it with your customers?
Educate, educate, educate and offer a better solution.
Have any of your foods been affected by a recall?
Yes, although not many.
If so, how did you handle it?
Switched animals onto a different food.
How do you go about choosing and training your employees?
I must sense passion. Have good customer service skills. Willingness to learn and understanding that we are not your normal pet store.
How do you stay educated about food and news in the industry, and what are some of the challenges to this?
Talk to a lot of people, align myself with caring, holistic vets that are ‘in the know’. I find that the industry is very tight lipped about where they are sourcing their product and where it is made. They are all out to make a big buck and many of them could really give a crap about the end result of what it is ultimately doing to the animals. I would love to do a study on the entire process on how pet food kibble is made, starting with the sourcing. No one would allow it because they have too much to hide and it will expose them in a very negative tone – they would probably go out of business. There is something innately wrong with this. And, of course, don’t get me going on the cruelty of animal farming……
Why should a pet owner purchase their products from your store? (Anything other than above.)
Product selection is well thought out. You can walk in and be assured that your pet will not have junk as a choice. Our staff is there to sincerely assist in any manner. We make it our business to know you and your pet.
If you live in the New Canaan, CT area, stop by Village Critter Outfitters! Support your independent pet stores!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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