Story

Bow Wow Meow in Seagrove is a Pet Lover's Paradise

February 28, 2012 by Joyce Owen

John Scanlan picked 1/11/11 to open his new venture, Bow Wow Meow Pet Company, hoping the unique date would be good for business. Now in his second year, he notes he’s had at least one sale every day. For someone open seven days a week and closed only for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New year's Day, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Although his background was in the restaurant business, opening a pet supply store was something he decided to do. He had researched healthy food options after he and his wife Natalie adopted Buddy, a St. Bernard mix, and struggled with their dog’s frequent illnesses. The veterinarian wasn’t much help with diet, so John consulted a nutritionist for ideas, as well as talking with folks in his neighborhood about what they fed their dogs.

He discovered natural healthy, organic food and treats, though a bit more expensive were worth the cost. Finding the right food made a difference with Buddy, but when they ran out while on vacation in South Walton they had a problem.

The brand wasn’t available on 30A; the only option was to drive to Destin or Panama City. John and Natalie saw the need for a local pet supply store. The couple enjoyed their visits here so much, as the community was so pet friendly, and with all those pets and pet owners living and visiting here, the idea for Bow Wow Meow seemed logical.

While planning to open the store, John visited lots of pet supply stores in the Atlanta area, but didn’t agree with the approach many took. Even though selling food was not a huge moneymaker, he planned to concentrate on food first. He surveyed people with pets and learned they wanted the good stuff, even if they didn’t always know what that was.

He took note of the way local grocers displayed their wares and recreated the general store feel with clean and tidy displays. He carries many brands of dog food, but doesn't clutter the shelves. Instead, larger bags are neatly stacked on the floor.

Though the emphasis is on food, there’s a varied selection of pet supplies: chew and fetch toys, beds, leashes and collars, apparel and accessories. His self-service pet washing area is already a success with 567 washes since opening.

Details in developing Bow Wow Meow were carefully thought out. From the logo with its iconic paw print, to the Florida themed colors – key lime green and gulf blue – he tries to make a connection with his customers.

Natalie suggested including a guest book on the web site, bowwowmeowpetcompany.com, not only for feedback, but also to track visitors. On the site there are links to veterinarians, pet-friendly residential rentals, dog trainers, pet sitters, and other helpful resources.

John works with pet-related businesses in the area, referring pet owners elsewhere if he doesn’t carry a product.

He took advice from a local business owner to establish and then keep consistent store hours. Regular customers already know to expect John in the shop. He’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The late hours are good for people who work, he says.

He’s centrally located in Seagrove Beach at 4935 E. Highway 30A,
“My business concept is old school,” John says, “Come to my shop and check it out.
In the long run, if I expand, I’ll need help, but I like being here. Meeting the customers and interacting with them. I like talking about what’s the best food for pets and helping them experiment until they find the right one.” 

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Joyce Owen

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