Interview with a pet company: Big Apple Pet Supply
Posted Feb 18 2009 12:05pm
Next up in our series of interviews with interesting pet companies: Big Apple Pet Supply, based out of New York. The owner, Steven Spitz, and the COO Tina were kind enough to sit down with us. Big Apple started in herpetological products but has recently expanded into dog and cat products as well. They have an interesting story and actively give to non-profits. Enjoy!
1. How did you get into herpetology and other pet supplies?
About 15 years ago I purchased my first reptile which happened to be a Florida King Snake. It was a companion for me while I was attending graduate school for psychology at Fordham University in Manhattan. Ever since I was young boy I was fascinated with all things that slithered, scurried or ran across my path. This childhood enthusiasm remained and inspired me to share this passion with others.
After joining a herpetological society in New York City I began to study and read everything I could on the field. I was frustrated with the lack of information, poor quality products and lack of companies offering them. It wasn't long before I decided to put together a small catalog and sell some products that I could not find at some local pet stores. The catalog eventually evolved to my first online store in 1994, quickly grew and we moved out of Manhattan to Long Island, NY. Tina Spitz, my wife and COO joined the company soon after the move from Manhattan and has been the primary force in the development and progression of our pet product lines, website and database system.
During the last 2 years, the company changed its name from Big Apple Herpetological, Inc. to Big Apple Pet Supply and added Dog, Cat, Fish and Small Pet Supply divisions. As well, we went to a paperless high tech Oracle Database system which increased our efficiency more than 300%. We anticipate adding an additional 2,000 products in 2009 with particular emphasis on well researched, superior quality products for dogs.
2. What do you love most about what you do?
Tina and I love helping people get the right information and products for their pets. My specialty is in reptiles so for me it's helping customers purchase the right reptile for their family as well as helping them setup a proper enclosure. Many times it's a parent purchasing a reptile for their son or daughter and they are petrified. It gives me a lot of pleasure to help these customers get the right information, the right pet and the right equipment to take care of it. Tina loves dogs so her knowledge and level of expertise helps our customers find products that let them connect to their pet and make the right choice for food and care products. There's nothing that Tina enjoys more than assisting customers with getting all the items they need for a new family pup.
3. What is the Give Back Program and how does it fit in with what you guys do?
The Big Apple Pet Supply Give Back Program allows the customer to donate 5% of their order directly to non-profit 501(c)(3) no-kill animal shelters, rescue organizations, humane animal education programs and wildlife rehabilitation centers. We feel it is important more than ever to integrate business initiatives while at the same time doing good in the community.
Organizations can become participants of the donation program by going to their program page and submitting the application. For more information on Big Apple Pet Supply visit the website or contact Big Apple Pet Supply at 1-800-92-APPLE.
4. What pets do you currently have in your household?
We have had 28 different kinds of snakes as well as tortoises, skinks and fish in our home. Presently, we have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Carly, fish and a Chinese Dwarf Hamster named Maryjane. We plan on adopting/rescuing a new dog in the next month or two - last April we lost our little dog Winston who was also a Cavalier - we are still heartbroken and miss him every day.
5. What trends have you noticed in pet supplies in the last year?
The most important trend in the pet supplies that we have noticed in the pet industry is the emphasis on products that say "Pets are part of our family and there's nothing more important than family." People truly love their pets like any family member and want the best for them. You see more and more products in the health, wellness, safety and luxury items categories. For example, we noticed we are selling a lot of dog tread mills because people understand that dogs need their exercise to stay healthy. As well, customers are buying cat harnesses for their cats to keep them safe when the go outside.
We're also glad to see that customers are insisting on buying pet toys that they know are certified non-toxic, treats that are organic, shampoos that are paraben free, special bulbs for reptiles that increase health & vitality and pet food that is safe and nutritious... the list goes on and on. People love their pets and they want the best for them. You will see more and more products that place pets as an important part of the family. This is a trend Tina and I see growing and staying strong. We are committed to offering products that are safe, healthy and help enhance the owner's connection with their pet.