Editor’s note: We’re excited to introduce you to some of our retail partners across the country. These stores have a great selection of our products and friendly staff who will support you with great customer service.
West Lebanon Feed & Supply, based in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, opened its doors in 1926, expanding substantially to a new retail and animal well-care facility in 2007. As described on their website, “The local country feed store has long been a part of the New England tradition. Visiting your local feed store has always involved more than just purchasing grain and provisions, it has been a place to catch up on the latest gossip, connect with the community, and exchange ideas.” You can find anything from Kurgo products to live poultry to gardening supplies in the store, and their customer service is amazing.
The store has received countless awards, most recently being named Best Overall Retailer by Global Pet Expo (the world’s largest pet-industry expo) and national “Retailer of the Year” by SuperZoo/Pet Product News International. We’re excited to introduce you to owner Curt Jacques who shares his thoughts including how he got into this business, what he’s learned along the way, and what he thinks it takes to succeed in retail.
An outside view of the store
Kurgo: Tell us how you got into this business.
Curt Jacques: I grew up in the feed business and worked for a National Feed Manufacturer for 17 years. The store we purchased was a customer of mine and the timing was right.
Kurgo: What’s your favorite part the job?
CJ: Meeting new people and being there to truly help them make the right buying decision. We don’t sell people, we help them.
Kurgo: Are there any interesting products you sell that people might find interesting?
CJ: We sell maple sugaring supplies.
Kurgo: What’s the most interesting animal to visit the store?
CJ: A camel!
Kurgo: What’s the most interesting customer interaction you’ve had?
CJ: The most interesting customer was a woman who purchased a bag of dog food that was “regular bites.” The trouble began when we incorrectly loaded a bag of “small bites” into her car, intended for small dogs. This happened on a Friday and she came back on Monday to tell us that we had loaded the right formula but the wrong food. Naturally we assured her there was no problem and offered to switch the bag. We apologized and said we’d pay more attention next time. Thinking we were all on the same page, she then yelled out “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! IT MADE MY DOG SMALL! EVEN MY DAUGHTER NOTICED!” I suddenly realized that she was serious and very upset, so I took care of the exchange and personally brought the bag to her car apologizing before she went on her way. I came back to the showroom to see my staff that had witnessed this staring in complete amazement. Without missing a beat, I said to them “It’s a good thing you didn’t give her pig food!”
Kurgo: What’s the biggest thing you've learned along the way?
CJ: The biggest thing I learned was if you have expectations of your community supporting you, then you better be supporting your community! Great stewardship is a must. Additionally, make sure you hire the right employees who believe in your passion!
Kurgo: Can you share a piece of advice for anyone considering opening a retail store in the pet industry?
CJ: Understand what your passion is and work for someone in the industry for six months to see if this is your bowl of food. It takes passion, business sense, passion, customer and people skills, passion and a great business model! (Oh yeah, did I mention passion?)
Kurgo: What are your best-selling Kurgo items?
CJ: We sell a lot of travel bowls (Collaps-A-Bowl) and Skipping Stones.
Kurgo: Running a business has its challenges. Do you have any tips for keeping it real?
CJ: Be practical have a big sense of humor and enjoy your passion! Find the right people who believe in what you do and most of all, be genuine!
An inside view of the neatly merchandised offerings at the store
Brooke Spater oversees Social Media Marketing at Kurgo. Among other things, she manages the Kurgo blog and enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 kids, and their 90 lb. Goldendoodle named Baxter.