Since purchasing their pet shop on Valentine’s Day
30 years ago, the Janczaks have worked steadily at
building their business, which, at its heart, focuses on
helping rescued pets find new homes.
A Labor of Love
Caroline Janczak, co-owner with husband Mark Janczak of Critters Pet Shop in South Elgin, Ill.
Years in business: 30
Type of business: brick-and-mortar
Special services: pet adoptions
Pet Product News: How did your journey begin
with Critters Pet Shop?
Caroline Janczak: We purchased an existing store on Valentine’s Day of 1988. We
were 26 years old and young and crazy. It
was a very tiny shop that had been in the
community for many years. The owner
was having personal issues, and the store
needed work. It barely had any inventory, so we pumped up the inventory and
worked at it 24/7. We cleaned it up and
stocked it, and it took off. The best thing
we ever did was computerizing inventory management. This allowed us to track
inventory efficiently, prevent out of stocks
and enabled us to nearly double business
in a very short time. After four years of
owning the store, we moved it within
the same strip mall and nearly doubled
the size. Then, we moved again in 2013 to
a busier mall.
PPN: You offer adoptions for cats, dogs, small ani-
mals, reptiles and birds. How has adoption evolved
for you over the years?
Janczak: We enjoy it very much and always have. It adds a layer of work for
me because I do the rescue, but it is rewarding. We have offered rescued pets
for years, but the last few years we have
chosen to emphasize them more. We
have noticed people are much more interested and accepting of rescued pets now
then they were years ago. Helping the rescued pets gives me a feeling of renewed
purpose after having been in business
for 30 years. I must say my husband and
I really fall in love with some of them—
they really touch your heart. Several
of the senior pets are so sweet and memorable. People thank us for offering rescued pets every day, and customers who
have adopted are extremely loyal. Our
staff loves it too, so for us, it has been a
win-win. It has been challenging though;
we have had to dedicate much time, energy and money to their care, and managing
their veterinary care is stressful.
PPN: What are the top-selling products in your
store right now?
Janczak: We are known for our live animals,
and they are definitely still a reason people visit our store so we sell all of their
associated products pretty well. Natural foods are a top seller. Fromm, Stella
& Chewy’s and Grandma Mae’s Country Naturals dog and cat foods are doing
the best in our store. We also sell Oxbow
small animal products like crazy. Reptile
products of any kind do really well and
are expanding. We have seen a renewed
interest in fish lately. Treats and chews
for dogs are always popular ... people
really like spoiling their pets!
PPN: What are your favorite products right now?
Janczak: I really like the new bone broth
products by Primal and Nature’s Logic.
We use it to encourage picky eaters. I also
like the Wigzi waterproof collars. They
stay clean and vibrant looking and have
PPN: What industry trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely?
Janczak: Online sales of dry goods
and unique protein sources in dog
and cat foods.
PPN: What business challenge are you currently in
the process of tackling?
Janczak: Retaining good staff members
after we have spent time training them
so we can have personal time to refuel
our energy. It is easy to get burnt out
because we work a lot! Keeping up with
inventory growth and finding places to
put it in the store.
PPN: What business goal are you hoping to
achieve this year?
Janczak: Taking the plunge and adding some online sales to our website.
PPN: What is your best tip for connecting with
Janczak: Social media, word-of-mouth
as well as occasional email blasts. But
the most important thing of all is making sure you and your staff talk with
customers and form a relationship by
being friendly and welcoming when a
customer walks in. We have many regulars, and they are very loyal because
they know we care about them and their
pet. Our regulars will refer people to us.
a San Diego-based
named IAN QUINN
as the CEO of its
Phyto Animal Health offers a line of
cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil supplements
and hemp products targeted to cats, dogs
Quinn has nearly a decade of experi-
ence in the animal health industry. Prior
to working for Phyto Animal Health, he
was a senior executive for a pet medical
device company and helped provide
direct support to veterinarians, veterinary
colleges, and zoos utilizing the company’s
products and services.
In his new role, Quinn will oversee all
operations, marketing efforts and product
development for Phyto Animal Health.
The Company of Animals hired
ANTHONY HINTON as its
e-commerce sales manager for the company’s
North American division in Davenport, Fla.
Hinton previously held
copywriting and e-commerce positions at
That Pet Place and Outward Hound.
While at Outward Hound, Hinton
help create new ways to reach and sell to
customers online. Working collaboratively
with online retailers, as well as brick-and-mortar stores with online platforms,
Hinton increased online sales, according to
company officials. A large part of this was
creating meaningful content and driving
footfall to all authorized resellers.
Hinton’s initial focus will be boosting
The Company of Animals’ online presence,
as well as refining its minimum advertised
pricing (MAP) policy, which aims to level
the playing field for retail partners. His ef-
forts will also include creatively branching
out into other e-commerce markets for
Midland Co. (ADM)
LI as the president
of ADM Animal Nutri-
tion in Quincy, Ill.
“Animal Nutrition represents an
important growth platform for ADM, and
we are pleased to have Samson on board
to lead this effort,” said Chris Cuddy, pres-
ident of ADM’s corn processing business.
“In recent years, we’ve invested to improve
our North American production facilities,
expand our footprint in Asia, and move
into the pet treats and aquaculture feed
industries. I look forward to working with
Samson as we capitalize on our expanding
product portfolio of feed additives,
supplements, premixes, custom ingredient
blends and specialty feed ingredients,
our increasing global footprint, and our
growing destination-marketing capabilities
to become the partner of choice for animal
feed and pet food customers.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CRITTERS PE T SHOP
Caroline and Mark Janczak
started their journey as pet
retailers in 1988.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 138