Big changes are in the works for Busch Pet Products, which has plans to make the
move to a larger space and start offering training services, pet photography, doggie
birthday parties and seminars.
Stacy Busch-Heisserer, owner of Busch Pet Products in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Years in business: 8
Type of business: brick-and-mortar and online retailer
Special services: self-service dog wash, nail trims and anal gland expression, free food and nutrition consultations, doggie day care
Ready to Grow
Pet Product News: What are the top-selling products in your store right now?
Stacy Busch-Heisserer: We are known for our pet nutrition expertise, so food is always
a big seller for us. We carry dry and canned food for dogs and cats from NutriSource
and PureVita, Fromm and Petcurean, and dry food from Acana and Orijen. We also promote raw and freeze-dried diets from Answers, Primal, Honest Kitchen, Sojos and Stella
& Chewy’s. We have canned diets from Koha, Party Animal, Open Farm and Weruva.
Treats are always big at the store, and we have an 8-foot wall devoted to brands like Plato,
Whimzees, Happy Howie’s, Cool Canine and Earth Animal.
We carry Ruffwear and West Paw, which are both tried-and-true lines for us. Fluff &
Tuff is an amazing plush toy line that our customers go crazy over. For collars and leashes,
our customers always look forward to new patterns from Up Country and Lupine, and
we have a nice line of no-stink and leather collars from Auburn Leathercrafters. We have
had a great year so far with clothing, and Gold Paw Series is one of the best. We are also
now carrying some super-cute coats and shirts from Hotel Doggy, Canada Pooch and
PPN: What are your favorite products right now?
Busch-Heisserer: One of my favorite items in the store is the Front Range Harness
from Ruffwear; not only is it a fantastic seller, but the quality and workmanship
on all of their products is awesome. I use one for my dog, and I recommend it for
almost every type of dog, from pullers to active dogs. My dog Elsa is also quite
partial to beef marrow bones from Primal. She thinks she needs one every night!
PPN: What industry trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely?
Busch-Heisserer: The cannabidiol (CBD) products are a growing trend for us and
everyone else, it seems. We are seeing some amazing results from the hemp products with dogs and cats, including our own store cat, Howie. Word-of-mouth has
been tremendous for us in that area. I am curious to see how big companies and
vets will bring the oil into their product sets. I don’t want to see a valuable product
like the CBD oil become too overused to where it is no longer effective.
I’ve never been concerned with competition from online stores or big-box chains, but
I know that we have to grow and change to adapt to what’s changing in the industry, and
that’s why we are revamping the website and adding online ordering and local delivery.
People are busy, and if we can help them continue to feed their pets a good-quality diet,
then we will come to the customer instead of the customer no longer being able to come
PPN: What business challenge are you currently in the process of tackling?
Busch-Heisserer: We are hoping to move to a much larger location next door to our
doggie day care in the next six to eight months. There is a wonderful opportunity for
us to do so, and I’m excited to have more room for a wider variety of products, including some pet gift items. We want to expand our dog wash and add in a multipurpose
room for training, pet photography, doggie birthday parties and seminars. I have the
chance to build out this space exactly the way I want, and I promised myself this will
be the last time I move!
PPN: What business goal are you hoping to achieve this year?
Busch-Heisserer: Last year, we grossed $750,000 in sales, so I would love to see us go
over the $1 million mark. I do have to remind myself that a good percentage of that
goes back into taxes, employees, inventory, insurance, etc., but I love that I can say we
got there. I would never have dreamed that we could achieve that goal back when I
opened in my first 750-square-foot location in 2010.
PPN: What is your best tip for connecting with customers?
Busch-Heisserer: Talk to them! The majority of new customers we get in the store are
there to get our help. They are frustrated, confused or just ready to do better by their
pets. I train my employees to always take the time to listen, and we ask lots of questions to get to where we can help. People appreciate our honesty, our candor and our
expertise. Word-of-mouth has been one of the best vehicles for our success.
On social media, I try to engage with our audience without being too pushy, all
while keeping it fun. We have a birthday club, Howie’s Birthday Club, where customers bring in their pets for a free cookie and a photo in a birthday hat, which is posted on
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. People love to see their pets’ photos from the store
and often share those on their social media pages. I sprinkle in posts about new items
without it becoming strictly a sales page, and everyone definitely loves our store cat,
Howie. He gets at least one post a week (#caturday), and people often ask about him
when they are in-store. Even customers who say they are not “cat people” say they
like him. Luckily, he works for cheap!
1. Busch Pet Products is known for its nutritional
2. Bethany, a longtime employee, distributes
samples to guests.
3. Busch Pet Products’ dog-washing stations are
stocked with a variety of grooming essentials.
4. Store owner Stacy Busch-Heisserer says
the Front Range Harness from Ruffwear is a
PHOTOS COURTESY OF BUSCH PET PRODUCTS