In the fall of 2018, Jamie Smith walked into the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC)’s satellite office at Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank in State College, PA with a dream. Through market research, she had identified a lack of pet stores on the east side of State College that offered pet grooming and specialty pet foods. To provide a service that would fulfill this community need, Jamie set out to establish a one-stop-shop for pet owners and their companions. To launch her vision, Jamie met with the Penn State SBDC to define her goals and establish a business plan.
With a background in leadership and management, Jamie understood the importance of creating a business model that centered around a hands-on leader and relied on consistent communication with all stakeholders. With previous roles as a production manager, service manager, and office manager, Jamie felt confident that her skills would be a good match for leading a retail business, especially one that aligned with her passion for animals.
Meeting numerous times with business consultant John Peterson and graduate assistant Robbie Newton, Jamie was able to share her ideas and develop a business plan founded on market research provided by the Penn State SBDC along with the primary research she had conducted. The next step was to build and review financial projections to share with local lenders to gain funding for the projected cost of the business, which included retail space and a pet grooming salon. In October of 2019, Jamie’s loan was approved through Northwest Bank and her dream of owning a pet-centric business became a reality.
With her build out and permits complete, Jamie was able to hire staff in the spring of 2020. Pet Pub acquired two exceptional groomers, Brittany Walter and Chelsea McCartney, whose skillset and personalities aligned with Jamie’s vision for the business: an environment where customer service and quality were priority. Brittany’s and Chelsea’s patient and caring demeanors, along with the extensive customer service training they received, have enabled them to provide exceptional services to their furry clients.
Jamie’s biggest challenge during opening was responding to the rapidly changing guidelines set during the global COVID-19 pandemic. She was mindful to utilize messaging in her marketing and outreach materials that communicated the new protocols while asking for patience as the salon followed CDC guidelines that would protect employee and client safety. One strategy she adopted to meet state guidelines was to offer curbside drop off and pick up, thus limiting employee to client exposure while meeting sanitizing standards for her customers and their pets.
Today, Pet Pub has achieved the mission Jamie set back in 2018: to establish a comprehensive pet store with a mom-and-pop feel that provides its customers with exceptional products and services. Their current offerings include pet food, gifts and novelties, specialized pet treats, and grooming services, all at a fair price.
“The best part of going on this journey of starting my own business is creating relationships with the people and organizations that have helped me along the way” stated Jamie. With Jamie’s vision and passion guiding the way, Pet Pub is sure to become a staple in the Centre County pet community.