Pet Age recently spoke with Lynn Klimp, founder and owner of Island Dog, a retail shop located on Saint Simons Island, Georgia.
Q What inspired you to open Island Dog in 2010?
A I am a dog trainer and this is a small town, with the closest major pet store a distance away. I was ordering needed items off the web and decided this was something the area needed. I started in a small, 90-square-foot space in a kiosk building in the heart of our town. I moved to my present location five years ago, and I’ve now grown to over 1,200 square feet. Entering my 10th year, I am proud to have grown and plan to grow more in the next two years.
Q How does your background as a dog trainer help you as a retailer?
A Dog obedience is not hard if the owner knows what they are trying to create in their dog. Pulling on the leash is my number one question and I can help customers find the right tool for them and their dog. Not only do we try them on but we show them how to use it correctly. I can also suggest and show them ways to work on the issues they are having.
Q What is your philosophy toward the products that you carry in your store?
A Products for training are chosen by the need (or desire) from my community and those I know have a good reputation for success. With training tools I am always quick to say, “There are no bad tools in training, just tools used incorrectly.” In regard to treats, I carry mostly USA-manufactured treats. I have a very large selection of collars, harnesses and leashes, the variety of which I pride myself on. Bottom line though, I check online pricing competition prior to bringing in new products. If the product isn’t protected through a MAP program, I most likely carry a small amount or will not carry it at all.
Q What do you consider to be the value of good customer service?
A Customer service is what makes my shop—it is what we do! Customers return because of the assistance we give and always with a smile. Every customer gets personal service and we are honored that our community knows if they need advice or help, they can come here. We are not here to just “sell,” we are here to provide assistance. I may not make a sale at that time but I know they will be back! After nine years our reputation speaks for itself, and I have repeat business with both locals and tourists.
Q What are the rising trends that are popular with your customers?
A USA products, especially treats. CBD oil, tough toys, unique collars and leashes, and natural chews.
Q What are some brands that sell well in your store?
A Kennelmaster Chicken Chips, The Natural Dog Company, Gooby, EzyDog, Kurgo, West Paw, Chuckit, K9 Granola and Go Dog, just to name a few.
Q What role did your customers have in the introduction of Kitty Kat Korner?
A It was 100 percent due to my customers. I have a very good tourist business along with my locals, and they both wanted something for not only their dog but also their cat(s). After many requests about if I had any cat products, I started my Kitty Kat Korner, which is full of unique and fun treats, collars, games, toys and bowls.