27 December 2017 Pet Product News International
What is Animal Connection
best known for?
Pattie Boden: We are known
for our focus on the whole pet
lifestyle, as well as our knowledge
and unique product line.
The greatest challenge for
independent retailers today?
Boden: The internet and the lack
of minimum advertised pricing
(MAP) standards throughout the
industry. We are all begging for
MAP, then we have manufacturers
wanting a pat on the back for
taking their pricing off the online
retailers but opening their own
page to sell product.
For the pet industry overall?
Boden: A lack of USA-made
toys. This might be my biggest
challenge when I attend trade
shows. My customers ask, “What
kind of toys did you find that are
USA made?” I’d love to see more
good-quality, USA-made toys.
What trends are you
Boden: I’m learning how to be a
millennial. I realize the need to
understand how this demographic
is shopping. As an old school
advertising agency type, I think on
paper and I’m all about the brand.
Millennials, not so much. They are
interested in an online experience
that will draw them to the in-store,
For the future?
Boden: We will be adding 800
square feet of space, which will
include a self-serve dog wash.
We are considering building an
in-house kitchen for baked goods
that will also serve as a test and
teaching kitchen. We sell plenty
of raw food, but we have people
interested in preparing home-cooked products. If we can teach
them how to do that correctly,
I’m all for it. That’s how we build
their schedule and budget and try to find a food that fits
In addition, Boden has studied Chinese Five Element
theory with Wendy Volhard.
“Basically, the idea is that we eat different fruits and
vegetables at varying times of the year in support of
different organs of the body,” Boden says. “This theory
works so well that I can almost select raw foods and items
for the store based on the upcoming season.”
In the effort to enhance a reputation as the “go-to” an-
imal health experts, education is considered crucial, and
both Boden and Animal Connection staff members partake
in classes offered by industry leaders, such as Dr. Karen
Becker or Rodney Habib, as well as studying on their own.
“We read a lot,” she says. “We have an extensive li-
brary of holistic health books.”
Boden says she looks for a self-starter in an employee,
but equally important is that staff members are good lis-
teners, problem solvers and willing to go the extra mile to
help customers find the right product.
“I want people who are engaging and willing to walk
with the customer to the product, put their hands on it
and explain why a certain choice is important to consid-
er,” she says. “How else do you stand out?”
Nutritional counseling is offered to pet owners by ap-
pointment or “on the fly” at any time.
Besides healthful, USA-sourced foods, an array of homeopathic essential oils, probiotics and supplements are
also in the mix.
“We have products that are highly endorsed by ho-
listic veterinarians and that we have used personally as
well,” she says. “I am very selective.”
A wide selection of pet supplies, including leashes
and collars, apparel, chews, toys and bedding, is also
When Boden adds a product to the store’s inventory, a
crucial consideration is the ability to call and speak directly with the manufacturer should questions arise.
“We’ve really tried to set the standard that we are the
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