Pet Age had the chance to meet with Lisa Aho, owner of a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, franchise of Woof Gang Bakery, to discuss why her store has been such a success.
Q What can you tell us about the history of Woof Gang Bakery? What inspired you to open your own pet store?
A Woof Gang Bakery, “Your Neighborhood Pet Store,” is committed to providing outstanding service and quality products to the local community. Woof Gang Bakery was created in 2007 in Jupiter, Florida. It began offering grooming services in stores in 2009. It has grown from a single location to a multi-state franchise. On February 4, 2013, I became a part of the Woof Gang Bakery family. In 2012, I lost my golden retriever, Athena, to mast cell cancer. Athena’s passing reminded me what little time we get to be with our pets, and I wanted to be around mine more. After a 17-year career climbing the corporate ladder, she became my inspiration to buy Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Palm Beach Gardens.
Q Tell us about your typical customers and how that impacts the products and services that you offer.
A Being located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, equates to a large number of part-time residents—“snowbirds” that come for the warm weather, usually traveling with smaller dogs. That season runs from October to May, so we see our biggest sales during these months. Wholesome dog foods tend to have regional followings.
Q What sets you apart from your competition?
A When you walk into our store, the smell of homemade dog treats fills your nose as you are greeted with a big smile and friendly voice. We offer grooming by appointment from talented groomers. We have a passionate, educated staff that listens to the customer, offers suggestions and will get them answers based on their needs. Our 12-foot gourmet treat table has many homemade selections that you won’t find anywhere else.
Q How would you describe the relationship that you have with your customers?
A Knowing our customers and their dogs by name shows people we are invested in them. I want every customer to have a positive experience when they walk through the door. In a technology-based society, having face-to-face relationships has been lost.
Q What would you consider the biggest obstacle for your store?
A As a small business owner, competing with the online retailers, big box stores and veterinary offices can be a challenge. The biggest obstacle is educating a customer on quality ingredient panels and finding unique ways to get them to want to walk through your door.
Q What do you look for in a brand or product that you carry in your store?
A Wholesome dog food and gourmet dog treats are a big part of Woof Gang Bakery. I believe “less is more,” so I look for simple panels providing healthy, natural ingredients. I look for products that people may not find anywhere else and support the companies that have their products sold by independent retailers with educated staff. Carrying products made in the USA is also important.