EarthWise Pet Franchise Review: Eileen Anderson of Canby, Oregon

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EarthWise Pet Franchise Review: Eileen Anderson of Canby, Oregon

As an owner of a Nature’s Pet franchise (EarthWise’s sister brand) since 2013, this former software developer formed a new calling out of an old passion

Two yellow labs in plush reindeer antlers flank a pale Chihuahua who is also wearing plush reindeer antlers

A software developer for years, Eileen Anderson eventually had to change course when she was laid off. In 2013, she started a new adventure with by opening a pet supply franchise. Ever since, she’s been operating her Nature’s Pet, a sister brand of EarthWise Pet Supply, about 20 miles outside of Portland, Oregon. With three dogs, one cat and assorted fish of her own, Anderson gets to talk about her passion all day, every day with people who feel the same way. She shares her story in this EarthWise Pet franchise review.

What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?
I did some software development for a number of years. I worked for different corporations in the financial industry and early in my working career, I had some experience in retail and retail management.

Why did you choose a pet store franchise?
Well, I chose that because I’ve always loved animals. Because of some pets that I’ve had over the years, nutrition became a huge focus for their ongoing health and quality of life. So, it just became a passion of mine. When my software job went away — I got laid off — I decided to pursue my dream of having a career where I worked with animals and was able to give them a better quality of life. So, this kind of presented itself. Nature’s Pet was a store that I was shopping at close to my work.

I just really liked the store and I thought, “Hm, maybe I could be a part of this.” I did some digging and found out that they had just begun to franchise, so I pursued that. I liked the premise of what they were trying to accomplish.

What do you like about owning the business?
I love being in control of my own fate. I never quite fit into the corporate mold, so this is really nice because I have a lot of latitude as far as being able to express my creativity and my passions, so yeah, it’s really nice.

What makes it fun in your day-to-day?
All day long I can talk about dogs and cats and birds and just all kinds of stuff with people, all kinds of animals. It’s really fun. It’s great to have the interaction and be able to talk about common interests with people.

So knowing what you know now, if you were starting out, would you become a Nature’s Pet franchise owner again? Would you do anything differently?
I would. I can’t think of too many things I would’ve done differently, except I would probably tell myself not to be so afraid. Be bold and take chances and really step out and try to get to know your community.

How do you feel about the overall direction of the brand in the past five years you’ve been involved?
The infrastructure of the franchise itself has been fully developed. So, I’ve seen a lot of great changes in the level of support and communication.

If someone walked in off the street and they knew nothing about Nature’s Pet or EarthWise, how would you describe the brand to them?
So I know how I’ve tried to create my store is that I want my customers to come in and see that me and my staff, groomers, everyone are dedicated to educating people about the best ways to take care of their pets.

What are some of the things you do to connect to your community?
Well, Canby’s still a small, primarily rural community. It’s changing quickly as people are moving out from the Portland metro area, but I’ve done a lot of community support as far as supporting programs at the local schools, contributing raffle items for local charities, things like that, just to keep my presence known in the community. Once a while, somebody will contact me from a special ed program or something with questions and want to do a tour.

What is it about your business that makes you think that it’s going to be around for 10 years, 20 years, whatever that might be?
People can get most anything they want online, and there’s a lot of big-box stores around. The thing that sets us apart and will continue to do so, I think, is education about our products, being able to help people with their animals and directly give that expert customer service that they’re not going to get anywhere else, because I think that’s what people really want.

What does your typical day look like?
I’ve got a full-time groomer with a full-time bather, and I’ve got two people that help me part-time, and they’re in the storefront with the retail.

So you’re still pretty hands-on.
Oh, absolutely, and I wouldn’t want it any other way at this point. I’m still having a lot of fun. I’ve spent so many years working on things that didn’t really feed my soul that this is now just fun for me. I’m still enjoying it a lot.

How are you doing on your business goals? Have you met them or surpassed them or are you just flying by the seat of your pants?
I think I have surpassed my business goals. Frankly, I just didn’t know what to expect when I got into this. I kind of felt like I was stepping off the ledge and I’d be caught by grace somewhere, and it happened. My store is doing okay and I feel like I’m having a positive impact in my community.

We’re doing good. My employees seem to be happy, and we enjoy each other and enjoy working together and things are good.

Why do you feel the brand is necessary in your community? What do you think would happen if tomorrow you said, “I’m over and I’m done. I’m going to pack up and leave”?
I think people wouldn’t have a resource to find healthy options for their pets. There’s prescription food and then there’s Chewy, of course, and then PetSmart’s over across the river, not far away. They’re okay, but there’s not really people there to help educate consumers.

When you do hang it up, what do you want people to remember most about your business?
I think probably that we had respect for them and their animals and really truly helped them in some way.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I just thoroughly enjoy working in my store. I love it and I wouldn’t trade it.

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