Pet Age visited Brenda Laura, owner of Big Easy Petshop in New Orleans, Louisiana, to find out more about the combination retail store-rescue center.
Q When did you open your shop? What inspired you to do so?
A We opened in 2005, a little over two months after Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, people using government transportation were not allowed to bring their pets with them. We saw many dead in the street and others running around confused and sick. Animals have always been my passion, and as I came face to face with this, I knew immediately that I wanted to start a rescue. But it was important to me that it was at least partially self-sufficient, and so the pet shop was born.
Q What can you tell us about the grooming services that you offer?
A We offer grooming seven days a week. Our main groomer, Goldie, has been grooming for over 25 years. We are a full service grooming facility, grooming mainly dogs and cats, but we have had quite a few other interesting animals over the years—pigs, llamas and miniature donkeys to name a few. We also use a non-toxic vegetable dye to dye dogs. This is very popular during Mardi Gras, although some of the dogs sport the colors all year long. This is the French Quarter, after all. Our groomers also make time to offer free grooming services to local rescues.
Q What pet products or themes are most popular with your customers?
A Our main sales for locals are food, treats and toys. Since we are a tourist city, we also get a fair amount of people coming in to buy our locally handmade souvenirs for their pets.
Q What are some of the brands that you carry and distributors that you work with?
A For products, we carry Earthborne, Zignature, JW Pet, Barkworthies and Primal. Our primary distributors are Central, Phillips and Animal Supply Company.
Q What is the most rewarding part of running a pet store that also serves as an animal shelter?
A Running a rescue is certainly a lot more work than owning a pet store alone. It is a financial struggle [but] I got into this to help animals, so the rewards outweigh the daily problems that come up. I am fortunate enough to have a loyal team as well as like-minded volunteers. My dream could not exist without them. When I was 5 years old, I wanted to own a pet store, help animals and work at the zoo. It took 50 years, but the dream has finally come true.