Pet Age recently spoke with Nikki Soldan and Jade Mills, business development manager and store manager, respectively, for Soldan’s Pet Supplies in West Lansing, Michigan.
Q: What sets your store apart from your competitors?
A: We are a third generation, family-owned full line pet supply store. We stand eight stores tall, and about 90 employees wide. Customer service is our number one focus. We strive to make everyone feel like they’re a part of our Soldan’s family. We know our customers’ pets’ names and have their two dozen crickets ready to go as soon as we see them walk in the door. We love hosting in-store events and pretty much have something going on every week! Lots of our events aim to raise money for local pet rescue groups.
Q: How have your customers responded to your self-service dog washers? Has it had an impact on your sales?
A: The surrounding community has flocked to our dog wash. Grooming supplies increase significantly in our locations with a dog wash. Customers are welcome to bring in their own grooming supplies, but we do provide our own private label All Natural Soldan’s shampoo, conditioners, colognes and ear cleaners. We also have sample brushes from Furminator, Kong, JW and Safari available for use as well as bows and treats. If customers are on the fence about a scent or a particular brush, they are able to sample them in the dog wash and buy one for home if they like it.
Q: What is the most popular pet category with your customers, and what trend has recently seen the greatest jump in popularity?
A: Food is the most popular—everybody’s got to eat, right? For dogs and cats, customers are usually looking for grain-free or limited ingredient diets. Lately we have had more pet parents asking for low glycemic diets or foods without chicken. They’re also caring more about where their pet food comes from. We specialize in giving pets the best nutrition possible, at a price their parents are comfortable with.
Q: What brands perform best for you in the categories of food, treats, supplements and hard goods?
A: Zignature, Champion and Fromm are brands that continue to grow like weeds for us. We’ve done well with unique, niche little lines like Petology, This & That Canine Co. and Fun Dog Bandanas. Answer’s Goat’s Milk is really starting to catch on at our locations which makes me believe we’ll be able to start turning more raw food. We’re northerners—we throw our dogs in our Jeeps, take them to our cabins with us and live out of coolers for days on end. Feeding raw can be difficult, but it’s something that we’re certainly hoping to grow our business in.
Q: How many locations does Soldan’s have, and how big is your West Lansing store? Is it the largest of the Soldan’s stores?
A: We have eight retail locations in mid-Michigan including our own central Distribution Center at our original location in South Lansing. Our stores range in size from 4,800 to 16,000 square feet. The West Lansing store is about 10,000, which is the sweet spot for us