Lifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position the business for success amid reopening; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward? Today, we check in with Adrian Archie of petNmind in Coconut Creek. Editor’s note: This interview was conducted prior to Phase 1 reopening for Broward County.
Backstory: petNmind offers pet accessories and a self-bathe station for dogs, plus it educates pet owners on the benefits of natural pet food.
The impact: We are a holistic store, meaning everything we carry is high-quality and can’t be found everywhere like mass-marketed pet foods, so our customers depend on us to be open and available. The major disruption has been that all of our employees opted not to work for their own safety. I have been working alone, which became tough to do after a few weeks, so we cut our hours temporarily. Rather than seven days a week, our hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. until things return to somewhat normal. People have been buying in bulk, which has challenged our inventory levels, but we have been able to accommodate with no major issues. As we have self-washing services for pets, we have taken steps to make sure people waiting their turn for the tub remain socially distanced.
In the interim: We have always delivered, but now it’s more of a focus. Curbside is new and has become really popular. Customers call ahead to pay, then I bring it out when they arrive, touch-free. As supply chains become more taxed, we believe people will see the importance of shopping at local businesses. When the internet and big stores are out of stock, smaller, more-focused local stores save the day as our distribution channels are often separated from the big guys and dedicated to smaller businesses.
The future: We have to increase our accessibility and the ease of doing business for the customer. If they need it delivered or they no longer want to shop in-store, we must accommodate that efficiently. We also have focused on disinfecting high-touch areas. Our website has been available for shopping and customers are beginning to use it more as well. Most important, we have seen the importance of having customers’ contact information so that we can easily make announcements [and they can] communicate efficiently with us; that will be a major focus moving forward. Overall, our approach and mission will not change. We are here to offer the best-quality pet products as well as educate, and pet parents will still require that even as we create our new normal.
Giving back: We have offered discounts to longtime customers who have had their employment paused and even donated pet food to customers who absolutely couldn’t pay. My wife’s business, Giant Slayer Consulting, in partnership with petNmind, sold “Fear Is My Enemy” T-shirts with all proceeds going to individuals who lost their jobs. We were able to raise a few thousand dollars that helped multiple families with cash to buy essentials. Our mission as a company and as a family is to help, and this pandemic doesn’t diminish that goal.