Tags: Business News
Maggie Offenhauser and Sam Rountree stand in center of their new pet store, Bubba's Pet Emporium. Bubba (on Offenhauser's shoulder) approves. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2014JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Think back for a minute to the days before the big box pet stores became the rage. Most communities had neighborhood pet stores where the owners knew their customers and kids could hold bunnies, hamsters, birds and even snakes if they wanted.
Now, the neighborhood pet store has made a big comeback in Johns Creek, where Bubba's Pet Emporium has recently opened in the Kroger shopping center on Douglas Road.
Co-owners Sam Rountree and Maggie Offenhauser opened the store last September after careers spent on the management fast track at Pet Supermarket.
"I was Sam's assistant manager for a year before I left Pet Supermarket," said Offenhauser. "That's when he suggested that I open my own pet store."
It must have been a good idea, because when she decided to do it, Rountree decided to join her.
"I had a good job at Pet Supermarket, but that wasn't what I really wanted to do," Rountree said.
"We knew the kind of pet store we wanted to open and how to run the operations," he said. "Our experience gave us excellent training, but there's still no way to really prepare for owning your own pet store."
Deciding to open in Johns Creek was a no-brainer. All of their market research pointed here due to the small business-friendly business climate, high-income demographics and abundant family neighborhoods.
"Johns Creek was the perfect location for a locally owned neighborhood pet store," said Offenhauser.
The partners say they have been overwhelmed by the tremendous support they've received from the community.
"People are always coming in saying their neighbors told them they have to check out Bubba's Pet Emporium, or that their kids begged them to come here," said Offenhauser.
If you're wondering how they are competing with all the big box pet stores in Johns Creek, their answer is simple: they provide great customer service.
"We get to know our customers personally so we can provide what they need, instead of just selling them stuff they probably don't need," said Offenhauser.
One of their biggest challenges has been overcoming the perception that they are more expensive than the big box pet stores.
"We're not a boutique pet store selling rhinestone collars," said Offenhauser. "Our prices are competitive with the big boxes, and sometimes even lower."
You might be surprised at one of the most popular pets they sell: tarantulas.
"Most people think tarantulas are dangerous and deadly, but they only bite as a last resort," Rountree said.
Where did they come up with the name Bubba's Pet Emporium? Bubba is Offenhauser's pet Amazon parrot. He's so friendly, you can say "hi" and he'll probably answer with a loud "hello." He might even step onto your arm.
"He has been an inspiration for me the past couple of years," said Offenhauser.
Looking ahead, the partners say they'd like to open a second Bubba's Pet Emporium one day. "But right now, we're just focusing on making this the best pet store in Johns Creek," said Rountree.
Bubba's Pet Emporium
11877 Douglas Road
Hours of operation:
Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.