Pet Supplies "Plus": More than Just a Store
Jul 31, 2011 07:43PM
By Beth Davis
PET SUPPLIES “PLUS” is no ordinary pet store, and Nick Milano is no ordinary owner. Sure, he is a businessman, and this is a business, after all, but for him, it’s more than that. It’s simply about helping pets have better lives.
Milano’s life plan didn’t always involve animals, or even owning a business. However, in early 1992, fate stepped in and Milano was fired from a well-paying, yet stressful, corporate job. Afterward, he decided he was going to do everything he could to never to be fired again. PET SUPPLIES “PLUS” (PSP), a franchise, intrigued him as a business model. Later that year, he opened his first store in the Chicago area. In 1993, he opened a second location, also in Chicago.
After buying out the group that owned three PSP stores in Indianapolis, he and his wife, Jane, relocated to central Indiana. Today, they still have one Chicago area store and four in central Indiana including Avon, Broad Ripple, Greenwood and Noblesville.
Although PSP offers everything you would expect—thousands of products and supplies such as collars, leashes, shampoo, litter, food and much more—what shoppers may not expect is everything else that puts the “plus” in PET SUPPLIES “PLUS.” Things like the absolute dedication to customer service, working with customers to maintain their pet’s health naturally, and the knowledge and compassion of staff members.
“With a retail store, the quality of your business rests with the quality of your team,” says Milano. “It took me quite a while to find and develop the right team, and that is the accomplishment for which I am most proud. They are incredible!” He explains that they look for people with compassion and curiosity. “Compassion is vital to connect with people who are concerned with the welfare of their pets and curiosity is required to have the drive to continue to learn and adapt to the ever changing mix of products, health issues and training techniques required to best serve our customers and their four-legged family members.”
But, that’s not all. PSP adds a bit of fun and practicality with its do-it-yourself dog wash station and recently launched the Pet Professionals Network (PPN). “We are constantly asked for referral advice for pet services and wanted to be sure we were referring our customers to people we trusted,” explains Milano. However, what started as something to help customers find the best services for their needs—such as groomers, veterinarians, kennels, dog walkers, photographers and pet massage—has grown to become a community of pet professionals that meet to share concerns and ideas.
Community is the foundation on which PSP operates. Noting a dedication to healthy pets and healthy communities, Milano says it is important to work toward improving the community in which we all live, thereby improving the quality of life of residents and our furry friends. Off-leash dog parks, for example, would not exist unless pet lovers took action to improve the facilities in their community for their pets. Supporting pet owners in their desire to create a better community is all part of the PSP philosophy, as is giving back. And, this is where Milano proves himself to be quite extraordinary.
PSP has had a long-standing relationship with many local non-profit organizations and governmental groups that are focused on animal welfare. But, it’s something he doesn’t discuss. For him and the PSP community, it’s not about the publicity or the recognition, but about their sincere effort to improve the well being of all pets. That is changing a bit, as he has come to realize that speaking up brings attention to the animal agencies that need the public’s help.
He says the decision to support both non-profits and governmental welfare groups goes along with PSP’s overall philosophy of caring for healthy pets and healthy communities. Plus, it’s a natural outgrowth of structuring the stores to appeal to pet lovers. So, whether it’s donating food to the Humane Society’s Pet Food Bank, volunteering for special events, or aiding a worthy program, PSP wants to be involved.
When asked why it’s important for him to give back, he says simply (and humbly), “Imagine a world where no one gave back and we all just looked out for ourselves. Would you want to live in a world like that? I wouldn’t, and thus I am obligated to take action to try to create the kind of world I want to live in.”