Pet Age recently visited Bag of Bones Barkery in Hamilton, New Jersey, and spoke with store owner Gregg Bernhardt on what has enabled him to succeed in today’s hypercompetitive world of pet retail.
Q You opened Bag of Bones in 2007. How has your shop changed over the years?
A We’ve been fortunate enough to go from offering just three all natural pet food brands to more than 25, including frozen and freeze-dried raw diets for pets. With our recent expansion into a space that’s nearly 11,000 square feet, we now offer our professional dog training, holistic integrative veterinary consultations, free local delivery and unique in-store events and informational seminars—and our new shop includes a pair of life-sized, lifelike artificial trees. Unlike when we first began our business, we now administer more than two dozen free loyalty programs for our customers in addition to a free in-store rewards program that gives them credit for every dollar they spend with us.
Q What do you look for in the products that you carry in your shop?
A Safety, quality and overall value. We look for consumable products that have traceable and clear sources. To us, a product’s source is exponentially more important than where a product is made (the latter is important as well). It’s fantastic, for instance, when a product is made in the USA. But if that product’s components/ingredients are sourced from questionable places or from sources that can’t be made clear to us, it’s not going to make it onto our shelves. Companies need to be transparent, and we need them to answer all of our questions—whether they are about their products or their company profile. We always tell our customers that when they buy something in our store, they aren’t only purchasing a product—they’re buying into a company and all of their processes and beliefs, too.
Q How have your dog trainer and holistic consultant been received by customers?
A Dog training is a service that’s in high demand yet short supply. With space dedicated specifically to training and community events, it makes for a well-lit, spacious and comfortable venue. Having Dr. Rohini Sathish join our team as a holistic integrative pet wellness consultant has been very positive for our clients. Joining us from the UK with more than 22 years’ experience as both a traditional and holistic veterinarian and veterinary surgeon, she offers services such as holistic consultations, herbal remedies, acupressure, EFT/tapping, pet reiki, pet bereavement counseling and more. Our customers have overwhelmingly embraced both services as positive additions.
Q What are some upcoming events that will be taking place at your shop?
A Every May, we have a Pet May-nia event to which we invite manufacturers and business partners. We give away stuff, have boardwalk prize wheels and Plinko boards. We’ll also host a Christmas in July event to give customers a jump on Christmas card photos and gift-buying, too.