Business Close-up: The pet experts in your backyard
Imagine walking into a local retail store and having expert advice – in some cases nationally recognized experts, just steps away; a place where you can purchase products specially formulated by these experts.
That is exactly what shoppers get when they enter Drs. Foster and Smith Retail store. It has grown from a small outlet store in 1996, offering catalog returns and clearance items to a 5,000 square foot full retail store today. Rhinelander native Patti Berg has been the retail store manager since its beginning.
“We strive to provide good quality products with amazing customer service by listening to our customers and giving them what they want,” Berg said. “It’s the same philosophy shared by the company founders.”
Local veterinarians Marty Smith and Race Foster wanted to better serve pet owners in the Northwoods by formulating better heath care and food products, and began marketing them through catalogs. They bucked advice from catalog publishers and focused heavily on education, which paid off for them. Education remains an important component, according to Berg. Take, for example, their website PetEducation.com which offers the newest information on products, and archived feature articles.
“We have a very knowledgeable staff, and if necessary we can call next door and pick the brains of pharmacists and a variety of pet specialists,” she continued. “Our products are screened by veterinarians and we guarantee 100% satisfaction.”
One specialty at the retail store that Berg is especially proud of is the aquatics department. Aquatics coordinator Kevin Kohen has received national recognition for his work as an aquarist. The somewhat daunting task of setting up an aquarium is made less so by the staff.
“We can help customers set up a saltwater or freshwater tank from start to finish,” Berg said. “The staff has the knowledge about the fish, the water, the compatibility and takes whatever amount of time is needed for buyers to be comfortable. And we follow through.”
Another plus is that anything Drs. Foster and Smith sells in the catalog is available in minutes at the retail store, including prescriptions, custom pet tags, food and supplies and more. It could be said the retail store provides small store service, with big store behind the-scenes-support.
Berg says their customers are the best part of her day. She includes two-legged and four-legged customers in that category, since pets are not only allowed – they’re welcomed. “A love of animals is a bond we all share,” Berg pointed out. “Our repeat customers become friends and it’s great to hear their stories, see their pets, and help out any way we can.”
Tuesday is senior citizen’s day, and the store has a current “buy six bags of pet food, get the seventh free” promotion on store branded foods as well as the newly available national brands.
Drs. Foster and Smith Retail store is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone number is 715-369-9312 and they are located at 2423 Airpark Rd, Rhinelander.