Pets Business World - OPINION From The Shopfront

Search
Directory

OPINION FROM THE SHOPFRONT

Newshound blogs have now moved to our forum

Guinea pigs to go
October 2011: by Newshound

A family with two young children were buying guinea pigs and as usual each child had to choose its own pet.  One child demanded either the fastest one or the one that ‘likes me most’.  Guinea pig racing?  The other child was not so bothered which one she got as long as it would live until she got it home.  I know we have the occasional goldfish that dies on the journey home but never a guinea pig.

Pigs’ trotters

September 2011: by Newshound

Every so often we get lookers in the shop who obviously have no interest in pets at all, which I assume is common to most pet shops.  I wonder why they come into a pet shop and then moan about the smell, the stock, or the poor animals locked in cages.  One such bunch of lookers looked at the pigs’ trotters and asked what they were for.  “Great with chips,” I said.  “Trotters and chips.”  For some reason they left rather quickly.
If you don’t like the pet trade then don’t come into a pet shop.  I don’t like women’s dress shops and I avoid them like the plague.  The wife could not get me near one if she tried, but after 30 years together she has given up.


Tina the tooth fairy

19 September 2011: by Newshound

This angelic child had quite obviously recently lost some of her front teeth.  I asked her if the tooth fairy had been and swapped teeth for money.  Her reply was yes and the fairy’s name was Tina, as in Tina the tooth fairy.  Why can’t children stay sweet and innocent?

Hills and Eukanuba

14 September 2011: by Newshound

I felt very sorry for The Hills sales staff who were recently laid off, especially our rep, who really helped us develop sales over the years.  We were glad to hear on the grapevine that she had got a new position with Iams/Eukanuba.  You can guess the Mickey-taking on our part that took place when she came in one day with our Iams rep.   She has spent the last few years extolling the values of selling Hills over everything else and now suddenly Iams/Eukanuba  is supreme!  Despite the leg-pulling she remained the soul of discretion and very professional.

Bakers ‘complete mixer’

5 September 2011: by Newshound

As I said at the beginning of this month’s column we have a steady stream of holidaymakers through the summer, some with strange requests.  This is one of them: “Do you sell mixer to go with dog food tins?”   “Certainly, we sell Pedigree mixer in both sizes and Winalot mixer.”  “Which one has the multi-coloured bits in it, like I buy at home in our local pet shop?”  Before I could think of an answer the gentleman said: “There it is on the shelf.  You should know your stock you know.”  He reached up and took down a box of Bakers small dog complete.  I thought better of arguing with him.  It was a one-off sale as he would be back home in a week, so I took his money and smiled.

Abandoned hamster

30 August 2011: by Newshound

One of my regular customers, the local baker’s wife, asked if we had a secondhand hamster cage spare.  Someone had dumped a hamster in a rat playball on her doorstep.  It looked pretty sick with suspected wet tail.  She had taken it to the vet for a check-up but it was not expected to survive.  As a matter of fact I did have an old cage in the outside shed.  Not in fantastic condition, a bit rusty, but it was more than adequate for a hamster in distress.  Most
importantly, it was secure and free on loan.  Our customer was most happy and took the cage away to give it a bit of a clean-up and, hopefully, house this poor hamster until she finds out if it is going to live or not.  About three hours later she bought the cage back as apparently someone had told her that rust would kill a hamster.  The good news was that the hamster did not have wet tail, it was just badly neglected and in need of a little TLC.  Luckily, the lady had a spare fish tank at home for it to live in so my rusty cage was no longer needed.


Boarding gorillas?

26 August 2011: by Newshound
Like a growing number of pet shops, we offer a small animal
boarding service.  We advertise this with a poster at the counter next to the till and on the website.  One day a gentleman was
reading this poster and looked a little surprised. “Is this right?” he asked. “Boarding of hamsters, mice, rats and gorillas.”  “No, it says gerbils, not gorillas,” I said.  “Ah yes, I see.  Maybe I should wear my glasses more often.”


Pigs’ feet

24 August 2011: by Newshound
One treat that sells well at the moment is cooked pigs’ feet, the ones that come in a box of 10.  One day, a family were browsing around the shop and one of the adults remarked on the pigs’ feet by asking what they were.  As quick as a flash one of their children replied “cooked dogs paws.”  Unfortunately, he was being serious.


I’ve got one!

19 August 2011: by Newshound
A grandmother and grandson came in together.  The grandmother said, “He’s got one of his own.  He got it here.  He wants to look at yours.”  Very good,” I replied, wondering what she was going on about.  “You remember,” she said. “We bought him a rabbit in here three years ago.”


Neutering

17 August 2011: by Newshound
A family with two young children came into the shop.  After a good look round one of the children asked about buying a pet rabbit.  He made it clear that he already had a rabbit so this new addition would be a companion for it.  My first question was to ask the sex of their rabbit.  “It’s a boy,” he said.  Next question was, “Has it been neutered?”  “What’s neutered mean?” asked the boy. 
Luckily, the parents appeared at this point.  “Ask your mother,” I said. “Ask mother what?” she asked.  “And if it’s about another rabbit, forget it!”

Holiday time

16 August 2011: by Newshound

As we live in a holiday area, July and August are very busy months, full of visitors spending their pennies and hopefully some of this will come my way.  My favourites are visitors who have come away with their dog and forgotten its lead, bowl, toy…Much better margins than normal sales of feed, etc

Kitten trade
9 August 2011: by Newshound
Kitten time again and the sales of all types of kitten food are going up in leaps and bounds.  One lady, a regular customer, asked for a 2kilo bag of the very cheapest dry kitten food we stocked.  I showed her Go Cat and Whiskas in two kilo bags.  “Oh no,” she said, “I don’t want that, I must have Hills.”  Explain that!

Whistle

27 July 2011: by Newshound

A gentleman asked for the loudest whistle we had as he was a little deaf.  I did suggest that the loudness of the whistle was less important than the pitch but he corrected me.  Apparently his wife has Parkinson’s and if she needs to attract his attention about the house she blows on a loud whistle.  Now that explains the reason why the husband commented on his deafness.

Gravy bones

26 July 2011: by Newshound
A lady asked the price of our Pedigree gravy bones.  As a traditional pet shop we still bag up quite a bit of our bulk products including gravy bones so my answer was £1.50 for a 500g bag.  “How does that compare with Morrison’s?”  asked the lady. “They sell gravy bones in a box, so how heavy is the box and how much is it?”  My thoughts were how the heck should I know, maybe with the word heck changed for something a little more colourful!  But as a gentleman what came out was more like: “I am sorry madam, I have no Idea what Morrison’s charge for gravy bones.”


Dog cage

25 July 2011: by Newshound
One of my better-off customers had recently lost her dog and was in the process of getting a new puppy.  She had been advised to buy a cage for it until it had grown out of the chew-up-everything stage.  We promptly delivered a nice new, shiny dog cage in its box ready for said puppy.  A couple of days later she telephoned to ask how to put the cage together as the puppy was coming later that afternoon.  I explained that it virtually put itself together but if she had a problem I could come to her house after work and put it together.  I know that’s a bit above and beyond the call of duty but this particular customer is what I call a money-no-object customer and well worth the extra investment of my time.  She thanked me for the offer and would phone back if she needed my services.  Later on that afternoon she phoned and said that she had instructed her tame taxi driver to collect her joiner who would come to her house to build the cage – no need for me!


Hamster straw

21 July 2011: by Newshound
A customer wanted straw for her child’s hamster.  Explaining that hamsters did not live in straw I tried to persuade her that she needed hamster bedding.  “Yes, that’s what I mean,” she said, “hamster bedding – white stuff and wood shavings!”


Eukanuba or Iams?

15 July 2011: by Newshound
Summer’s here again and the holidaymakers are starting to arrive.  And as usual they are forgetting to bring with them food, leads, bowls, etc.  We are also getting a steady stream of people asking for a small bag of dog food “like we buy at home”. When you ask what make it is they either don’t know or say it’s the one in the clear plastic bag!  All good fun.  One classic example was the lady who insisted on buying Eukanuba small bite as it was the only food her dog ate and if she changed its diet it would get ill.  Fair enough, but she also insisted that the bag was green, well it was in her local pet shop.  Problem there is that Eukanuba small bite is in a black and silver bag with no green whatsoever on it while Iams small bite is in a green bag.  We now have a confused customer who thinks she wants Eukanuba but thinks it may be Iams.  So the lady who has to have Eukanuba and nothing else purchases two Cesar foils.  Not sure of the logic in all this and I am sure that this story will give the marketing people at Iams something to think about.


This fish is deceased

20 June 2011: by Newshound
I have always wanted to be the pet shop owner in the famous Monty Python sketch concerning a certain Norwegian blue parrot. My wish nearly came true one Saturday. This gentleman came into the shop with his family and presented me with a plastic jar half filled with water and containing a dead zebra danio. “What’s wrong with my fish?” he asked. I carefully looked at it, examined it from every angle and came to the conclusion it was dead. “Well sir, there are no obvious signs of trauma. No wounds or marks. In all honesty it looks the perfect specimen of a zebra danio. Apart from the fact it is dead.”  What else can you say?

Now that’s hot air

15 June 2011: by Newshound
I was always brought up to put something back into the community that you live in and earn a living from. So outside of work I am involved with our parish council and the local community centre.  One thing we are looking at is funding our own wind turbine, with all the profits being retained in the village.  I know wind turbines are a controversial subject; you either love them or hate them, but the fact is that using the feed-in tariff, you can literally generate a guaranteed income. To put it another way, a 45m turbine in the right position can bring in almost £100,000 pa and after costs still leave well over £50,000pa profit.  If the village owns the turbine, then the profit is fully retained for the village to use as it sees fit.  The first stage of this process is to get locals on board by press releases, public meetings, etc.  At one such meeting, one anti-wind turbine person asked why we wanted to generate more wind in such a windy area. Apparently, according to this person, wind turbines are run on electricity and their sole purpose is to generate wind.

Any dog food
13 June 2011: by Newshound
A customer asked for a 15k bag of dog food.  “Which make?”  “No idea,” came the answer.  “What colour bag?”  “No idea,” came the answer.  “What price range?” “Under £10,” came the answer.  At last a clue.  Any make, any variety, as long as it’s under £10.  Well, we stock Burgess Super value at £9.99 so that should do nicely.  One of the girls took the customer’s money while I went out to the store to get the food and put it in the customer’s car.  So far so good.  Once I put it in the car, the customer looked quizically at the bag and stated that it was not the same as she had last time.  How does she know it is not the same when two minutes before she had no idea what she wanted?

Baby hamsters
6 June 2011: by Newshound
Like many small shops, we order baby hamsters when we run low and have only a few adults left.  The majority of customers want a baby hamster and not one of our older ones, so inevitably there are times when we have people waiting for the new batch to arrive.  And like many shops, we buy from a well-known Essex-based breeder as well as breeding the odd litter ourselves.  We were awaiting a delivery of hamsters and we had told this very anxious customer that they would be arriving on Wednesday or Thursday and we would phone them as soon as they came in.  So every day from the previous Friday we received a phone call: “Are they in yet?”  And every day we replied: “No, Wednesday or Thursday next week and we will phone you.”  Wednesday came: “Are they here yet?”  Thursday morning: “Are they here yet?”  They arrived Thursday lunchtime and before we could unpack them and rest them after their journey, we telephoned the lady to tell her they had arrived.  About 4.30pm she came in with her very excited granddaughter and the first thing she said was: “Is this the new stock?

It’s a bit more complicated …
31 May 2011: by Newshound
A potential customer was on the telephone asking about buying another rabbit.  He had bought one at Christmas and now wanted to get it a companion.  In these circumstances the first question I ask is the sex of the rabbit they already have.  The answer to that was that it was a male, so the next point to raise is neutering.  You cannot put another rabbit in with a male unless it has been neutered first.  “Why not?” was the next comment.  After gently explaining why and the costs involved, the next question came.  “So, if my rabbit needs neutering, can you do it with an injection?”  No, it’s an operation carried out by a vet.  Are people really that naïve?


Liver bones?
23 May 2011: by Newshound
“Do you stock liver bones? They are made by Pedigree.”  Pedigree liver bones?  New one on me.  I showed the customer our range of treats, and in all honesty we do stock most of the pedigree range but not liver bones.  “There they are,” said the customer picking up a bag of gravy bones.  I pointed out very politely that he had picked up gravy bones. “Liver bones, gravy bones what’s the difference?” was the reply.


The world’s most stupid questions?
18 May 2011: by Newshound

Do you stock Drontal dog wormers?” asked the customer.  “No,” I replied, “that is a prescription-only wormer and has to be obtained from a vet or licensed premises.”  I know that,” said the customer, “but I thought I would just ask.”  Well if you know the answer, why ask the question, I thought.
Along the same lines, a customer asked if we stocked Hills Senior cat food 5 kilo.  As Hills is our biggest-selling premium range, the answer was ‘yes’.  “What weight is in the bag?” asked the customer.


Mixed grains

16 May 2011: by Newshound
A customer asked for a sack of mixed corn for hens.  The one we stock is called mixed poultry grain, so I went to the store, got one out and put it in the customer’s car.  “That’s not what I asked for,” said the customer, “I asked for mixed corn, not mixed grain.”  After explaining that the two words meant the same thing, she appeared to be happy until she inspected the ingredients list.  “No, this is not right.  It says on the bag that it contains maize.  I want one with sweet corn in it.”  Again I had to politely tell the lady that maize and sweet corn were the same thing.  Her husband raised his eyebrows in exasperation. “Look woman, it says on the bag mixed poultry grain for hens and it has a picture of a chicken on it.  What more do you want?”  With that he shut the boot of the car, thanked me for my help and suggested his wife get in the car, quietly.


Kennel cough
10 May 2011: by Newshound
A lady came into the shop asking for advice.  Her dog was off its food; she had tried every food on the market, and it coughed a lot.  My advice for the coughing was a trip to the vet as this sounded like kennel cough to me. “Impossible,” said the lady, “there is no way my dog has kennel cough as it lives in the house.  It’s never been in a kennel.  Anyway the vet costs money.”  So my advice is free then!  Moving on to the lack of feeding, I showed her three different wet dog foods (I gave up on suggesting dry foods).  The lady had never heard of any of them.  So much for trying every dog food available!  After much banter she went away with some Naturediet Chicken and Rice and I put the princely sum of 83p in my till.  Twenty minutes of my time for an 83p sale. I won’t get rich on that then – I suppose I could charge a consultation fee.


Beta Puppy, with or without rice
7 April 2011: by Newshound
A customer went to purchase a bag of Beta Puppy with Chicken but asked if we stocked, or could get, the Beta Puppy with Chicken and Rice, as this version did not give her dog wind.  I thought that this was just a repackaging exercise but the customer was not convinced.  “Other shops stock the chicken with rice so why can’t you?”  Fearing I was about to lose a sale, I telephoned the Beta Helpline.  The very helpful lady explained it was a minor reformulation and the packaging was changing to reflect this.  The customer was still not convinced so I have her phone the helpline and the very patient lady from Beta explained it all over again.  My customer is now convinced and is a regular purchaser of Beta Puppy.  Thank you Beta Helpline.


It just makes sense!
1 April 2011: by Newshound
Each time I buy stamps I wince at the price (32p for second class), especially as I mainly use them to pay suppliers.  Also more and more suppliers are sending invoices via email to keep their costs down.  It’s now my ink that prints out their invoices, so more costs for me!  So I started to look around for cheaper ways to pay those invoices.   And I came across BACS.  Originally I thought BACS was only for larger businesses but I was wrong.  Even micro businesses like mine can take advantage of this system of paying bills and wages.  Using my online banking and a card reader supplied by the bank, I can transfer money from my account to any other business or personal account as long as I know their sort code and account number.  The time taken is only a minute or two, about the same length of time as writing out a cheque.  The big saving is in cost.  To write out a cheque costs me 59p plus stamp and other postage costs.  Let’s say in round figures a total cost of £1.00.  A BACS transfer costs 35p.  The figures speak for themselves.


More than meets the eye
28 March 2011: by Newshound
There may be more to alternative medicine than meets the eye.  Personally I keep my faith in vets, but maybe there are other ways.  I was just passing the time with a customer as she was telling me about a cat she had that had been diagnosed by the vet with liver and kidney problems.  The only way to keep it alive was a regime of pills, put down the cat’s throat on a daily basis.  She was concerned that this would be very stressful for her cat, so she consulted the local health food shop.  The lady at the shop put her onto a homeopathic vet who, after asking a whole raft of questions, concocted a  linctus especially for this cat. The owner was to put one drop a day on the cat’s tongue.  So far this has kept the cat alive for three years.  As it is now 18 years old, it will more than likely die of old age rather than liver or kidney problems.


Barking mad?
21 March 2011: by Newshound
Some while ago a customer was asking about ways to stop her dog barking while it was in the car.  Apparently the dog took exception to people walking past while the car was stationary.  My thoughts on the matter were that this was a retraining issue, so I gave her contact details of three pet behaviourists in the area.  I thought nothing more of this until she came in some weeks later  to buy treats and thanked me for my help with her problem.  Apparently she had contacted the behaviourists and they had given her good advice, but suggested that a prolonged, and costly, retraining process was necessary.  The lady asked her local garage for their advice and was told that a car with blacked-out windows can be effective.  So my customer bought a new car in order to stop her dog barking in the back seat.


Benefits of wholesalers
14 March 2011: by Newshound
It was good to see Rosewood products available through our main wholesalers.  For me as a small shop, it is not always easy to make orders up to “minimum delivery”.  Far better for us to tack on a few bits and pieces to our main order each week.  This gives us variety in the shop without holding lots of stock.

On-line sales
7 March 2011: by Newshound
It was interesting to read that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate is looking into the online sales of prescription drugs.  I have nothing against anyone selling online; it is a legitimate avenue to retail.  My worry about selling prescription drugs is the fact that online there is no advice or support for the end user.
For example, if you wish to sell wormers, you have to be qualified and that qualification enables you to give professional advice to the end-user face to face.  If the SPQ is not physically in the shop, then wormers cannot be sold.  Yet online, while the seller is licensed, they never come into direct contact with the customer.  So how can they give good advice?


Epilepsy and diet
3 March 2011: by Newshound
Thank you to David Brock, of Natural Instinct Limited, who wrote in after my February column about a link between epilepsy and diet.  It just goes to show that there is more than one way to cure some ailments.  I for one will be less sceptical of ‘different’ treatments in the future.

Fish food
28 February 2011: by NewshoundA customer  came into the shop carrying a translucent carrier bag that obviously contained two whole haddock which he had purchased from the fishmonger.  It amused me when he asked for fish food.  “I don’t think they’ll eat very much,” I said.

Peanuts and suet pellets
21 February 2011: by Newshound

There is still a peanut shortage, that is unless you buy from a horse feed wholesaler.  Strange that both our main wholesalers are struggling to supply us with the peanuts we need, but our two horse feed suppliers have plenty, if only in 20 kilo sacks.  Then, to make matters worse, we cannot get hold of prepacked suet pellets!  
This is so frustrating. Two products we sell lots of at this time of year and we are having real problems getting them. Sainsbury have suet pellets, at £3.50 against our £1.99, but at least they have them.  I was so desperate to get peanuts just after Christmas that I ordered two sacks on Amazon. 
Yes, believe it or not Amazon sells peanuts.  Well they would if they were ever delivered.  Four  weeks later and still no delivery!


Hoof happy

10 February 2011:
by Newshound
Customer: “I want some dog food in a yellow bag.”  As usual, no idea of brand or size, or even price range.  The very next customer asked for pony nuts. “Certainly, that will be £7.50.” “That cannot be right,” said the customer. “Last time I paid £11.75.” “Then maybe it was Happy Hoof.” “Yes, that’s right, it’s Happy Hoof I want.”  So the customer asks for pony nuts but means Happy Hoof.  This story may not mean much to none horse people but it has me chuckling.

Identity crisis
7 February 2011: by Newshound

A customer was looking for a harness for a rabbit and for some strange reason all I had in stock were pink ones.  This was no good at all as the rabbit was a boy.  Not a problem as I can get different ones in stock in a day or two. 
The customer then spied some Trixie guinea pig harnesses and thought one of them would do.  The only problem there is the harness is guinea pig shaped and not rabbit shaped and it has guinea pig written all over it. 
If you thought giving a pink harness to a boy rabbit would give it a complex, how would the poor thing feel with a harness emblazoned with the words guinea pig?


Sweets for thought

3 February 2011: by Newshound
For a while now we have been selling a limited range of sweets in the shop, and in all honesty they have been selling quite well.  But you still get silly questions.  “Do the liquorice sweets have liquorice in them?”, and the latest: “Do peppermint sweets contain peppermint?

Selling pets
31 January 2011: by NewshoundJust a thought…but as a licensed pet retailer I have to abide by a whole raft of rules and regulations including not selling pets to anyone under the age of 16.  Yet the same rules do not apply to private sellers.  Anyone of any age can reply to an advert “puppy for sale” and buy one.  Is this right?

Online pet medication
27 January 2011: by Newshound

The other day I was reading a report about the difference in price for veterinary drugs between online pharmacists and vets.  Apparently medication bought online is considerably cheaper than identical medication dispensed by the vets.  The vets argue that they have higher overheads and less buying power while the online pharmacists argue they have efficiencies due to bulk buying and work on a lower margin.  There was also a suggestion that some drugs bought online may be not the real article.  
Vets have had a virtual monopoly on prices for many years and on-line is becoming a reality check on prices.  In saying that, vets can charge for issuing a prescription, which narrows the price gap but at the end of the day people will migrate to the cheapest option especially if their pet is on long-term medication.  When you look at some of these online prices you have to wonder how they can do it.
We looked at becoming qualified to sell horse wormers but when you look at the online prices for wormers they are on par with trade prices.  So where is the margin?  It would appear that the only way to sell wormers profitably is to sell in volume, but that does not help the small retailer who does not get volume sales. 
Getting the relevant qualification does open up dog and cat flea products such as Frontline but once again the on-line retailers are cutting prices and margins to the bone.  It is very easy to sell product but the trick is to sell at a profit.


Now that's nuts

24 January 2011: by Newshound
Well that’s Christmas and New Year out of the way.  Worst weather in 40 years and the first recorded snowfall in our area in November for 20 years.  A bit hairy at times but we coped.  Vital struggled through, we got our deliveries out and I do not think we let down any customers.  We did struggle with peanuts and black sunflower seeds but then I believe everyone struggled with peanuts.  We ended up getting some via our horse feed wholesaler who had plenty.  Talking of peanuts, who would have predicted the price would reach £30 a sack!  It does not seem long ago that wholesalers were doing specials on peanuts at £9.99.  In saying that, the price has not put off customers; they appear to be fairly happy to pay the higher prices.


Link between epilepsy and diet?
17 January 2011: by Newshound

Some time ago I heard a customer say that she had an epileptic dog and its seizures declined rapidly when its diet was changed from dry complete food to wet food.  My understanding of epilepsy is that it is an electrical problem in the brain, and therefore diet should have no effect.  But this person was adamant that it worked. 

I passed this information on to one of my other customers with an epileptic dog with the proviso that I could not see the logic in this at all.  She tried it and swears that she has had very good results.  The epilepsy had decreased with a change of diet!  So much so in fact that she states that after two years of epilepsy, her dog has not had a fit in over two months since its diet was changed. 

I just do not understand this at all.  Is this luck, imagination or is there some correlation with diet and epilepsy?  Is there anyone out there who can explain this?


A challenge for Mystic Meg?

12 January 2011: by Newshound

Person on the phone. “Do you sell Netherlands dwarf rabbits?”  “Yes, we do,” I answered, “but we have none available at this moment, but will have some born very soon and they will be available to see in a few weeks.”  “So what colour will they be and what sex?” 

We can have a good guess at colour because we know the colour of the last eight generations of our rabbits, but which sex is well beyond my capabilities!  Maybe I could take my pregnant does to the local maternity hospital and get them scanned. 

Then again that may not be so daft; if there is money to be made I am sure some vets would set up a pet maternity service.


A giant of an animal

11 January 2011: by Newshound

In my 20 years in this trade I have never seen a giant breed rabbit, well, that is until today.  A customer brought it in to show us and to have a harness fitted.  I have some photographs of bunny and they are truly amazing.  I would say it is the size of a small to medium dog, at least twice if not three times the size of our cat.  From nose to tail with its body stretched out I bet is was not far short of three foot long. 
To really put its size in perspective, the harness that fitted it was an Ancol padded nylon harness size 3/4. 
What was truly amazing was how calm it was.  It just sat there and let me try on the harness, no wriggling or squirming at all.  A wonderful animal.  In case anyone is wondering what size hutch it lives in, the customer purchased an eight by six garden shed and built a huge run on to the side of it.


How much?!

10 January 2011: by Newshound
A young man came into the shop asking for a ball thrower.  We certainly do stock them and they sell for £2.99 each, a price that is hard to beat.  “Well, my dad says not to spend more than £2.00.”  I mean, a tennis ball with a thrower for £2.99, a price that will hardly break the bank!


An Alice in Wonderland moment
5 January 2011: by Newshound

Most readers will appreciate that much of this column is written in advance in order to make printing deadlines, so I hope you will accept this small look backwards.  The story is just too good to pass up. 
A customer came in on the Monday morning after the clocks went back complaining that she came to the shop at 4.30 on Saturday and we were closed.  I assured her that this was not the case.  We may close a few minutes early if no-one is around, but never half an hour early.
She was adamant that she was correct until she let slip that she had put her clocks back an hour on the Friday evening in case she forgot to do it on the Saturday.  What amazes me is that it is my fault we were shut because she put her clocks back a day early!


Vets only?

14 December 2010: by Newshound
I make no excuses about returning to a subject that bugs me constantly.  That is manufacturers selling lines of feed exclusively through vets.  Only they don’t, as many of the products are also available online.  In fact, everywhere except through the high street retailer.  I appreciate the need for some control on so-called prescription diets due to their specific formulation, but now Hills has produced VETessentials, a range of non-prescription food that is said to be only available in vets.  All the literature states that it is a vet-only product, but it is not, as once again it is widely available online.  I personally have no desire to sell two distinct ranges of Hills products, but why produce a vets-only range and then sell it through online outlets as well?


Home-made affair
7 December 2010: by NewshoundAs last year, we have not bought one Christmas line from our wholesalers.  We will stock a bit more by way of dog and cat toys, but we will be making all our own Christmas packs.  Well I say we… the wife will be doing the work and I shall supervise.

Cat tales
29 November 2010: by Newshound

The telephone rang.  “I bought a cat scratcher from you and it is worn out and I want a new one.”  “When did you buy it?” I asked.  “Just over 20 years ago, I hope you have an identical one to replace it with?”  To cut a long story short, the lady came by taxi and chose a new cat scratcher.  She also purchased feed, a hooded litter tray, litter and toys. Sale of the day!
Another time a father and son were in buying bits and pieces for a new cat, so I asked the young man what his new cat’s name was.  “Sniper,” he replied, “because when you try and pick him up, he shoots off like a sniper’s bullet.”  Perfectly logical to me.


Engage brain before speaking

22 November 2010: by Newshound
A customer did seriously ask this. “I know this is a pet shop but do you sell dog food?”  Need I comment?

And then another time I overheard these two schoolboys talking in the shop.  “I buy my rabbit food in here,” said one. “What for?” his friend replied.  “To feed my rabbit.”  “Have you got a rabbit then?”

Four feet what?

18 November 2010: by Newshound

A customer was inquiring about rabbit runs. At this time of year we do not stock that many runs as sales are low over winter.  “All we have at the moment is this four foot square run. However we can get others within two or three days.”  “I do not understand what you mean.  It’s four feet long by what?”  “Four foot square. That’s four feet by four feet.”  Let’s just say the customer eventually went out with a run and I put £95 in the till.

Larger rabbit hutches

15 November 2010: by Newshound

I have noticed the trend lately is towards larger accommodation for rabbits and guinea pigs. This mirrors a trend about 10 or 12 years ago when customers drifted away from the very small hamster cages and on to the larger and much more interesting ones we sell today. I remember virtually all we sold at one time was a cage made from what looked like a wire frame over a small cat litter tray, which retailed at £8.99.  Nobody would buy anything bigger or more expensive.  I have not seen one of those for at least five years and the cheapest hamster cage we now sell is £25.  Much bigger, much more in it.  Multi-level, wheels, tubes, and every colour imaginable.  In general this equates to a longer-living hamster, which gives me more sales of bedding and feed.
We stopped selling 30-inch hutches a few years ago and made the minimum size that we sold 36 inches.  Nothing like big enough for a rabbit but adequate for a guinea pig.  Even those are now being left on the shelf in favour of the larger, and sturdier built, two-tier hutches with runs. Good for everyone. The rabbits and guinea pigs get better housing and, therefore, live a longer and happier life and we get more sales in the way of bigger hutches, and more hay, feed and shavings.  I know the rabbit welfare lobby advocate a minimum size hutch for a rabbit as six feet by two feet square and one day this may be the norm, but it will only happen by education.  In the meantime, we advise our customers to purchase the largest hutch and run they can afford.  It may not be the size of a small house but the trend is in the right direction.


Now I’ve heard it all!

8 November 2010: by Newshound
A customer was in looking at cat litter trays.  At the moment we have a good range in as, alongside our normal Armitage trays, we have some new ones from Sharples & Grant.  I went through size, shape and colour with the customer but her comment stumped me. “It’s for bathing my granddaughter, not for the cat to use.”  OK, so you bath your granddaughter in a litter tray.  Does granny have mental health issues?  Apparently not, as the correct shape litter tray is ideal to use as a scoop to empty out baby’s bath!


It’s the birds or the wife!

5 November 2010: by Newshound
“Do you sell budgies?”  Well we don’t, nor any birds at all.  We used to but a few years ago my other half developed lung problems and the experts put it down to birds.  It was getting rid of the wife or the birds.  And yes I have heard all the jokes, as I made most of them up!  Back to the story… Having informed the person we did not keep birds at all, he commented, “Well they have lots of budgies at the garden centre but they have sold out.”


The art of listening

1 November 2010: by Newshound
One of our girls was patiently explaining to a customer how to put a Halti on a dog. The way we do this is to make one hand into the shape of a dog’s head and drape the Halti around it.  Very simple but very effective.  Unfortunately, after 20 minutes patiently explaining how the Halti works, our potential customer just could not get the hang of it.  The next thing I tried was a soft dog toy with a Halti strapped round it.  Pure genius and a sale!


Toy dog saves a sale

28 October 2010: by Newshound
One of our girls was patiently explaining to a customer how to put a Halti on a dog. The way we do this is to make one hand into the shape of a dog’s head and drape the Halti around it.  Very simple but very effective.  Unfortunately, after 20 minutes patiently explaining how the Halti works, our potential customer just could not get the hang of it.  The next thing I tried was a soft dog toy with a Halti strapped round it.  Pure genius and a sale!

Do you remember me?

26 October 2010: by Newshound
A customer phoned up and said, “Do you remember me?  I came in last week.”  Of course I did.  I just looked down the phone line and recognised her immediately.  Another person phoned on the same day at one minute to five asking what time I closed.  Five pm came the answer.  “Why so early, surely you open to at least 8pm?”  On retail parks, shops stay open ’til late, but here everyone closes dead on 5.  Apart from that my tea is on the table at ten past five.


Snake on a bus
22 October 2010: by Newshound

One of my customers, who shall we say was slightly under the influence of alcohol, announced that he had recently been in the local paper for letting his pet snake loose on a bus.  As we remembered the article we knew he was telling the truth – or as well as someone under the influence can recollect facts.  Apparently, he was transporting it in a carrier bag and it decided to escape.  As you can guess, the other passengers and the bus driver were not amused.


Another chicken

20 October 2010: by Newshound

Unbelievably, we have had another chicken handed in. Regular visitors to this site will remember a while ago we were handed in a chicken that belonged to a local farmer. Well, the other day we received a phone call about a stray chicken on the industrial estate. “Bring it in,” I said.  So they did and the next day I was rewarded with a fresh egg. Tasty! Well, no-one claimed it so one of the staff took it home to live with her three hens and a cockerel.

Computer scam
18 October 2010: by Newshound
This is not really pet related but is important to anyone using a computer.  There is a scam doing the rounds at the moment where you receive a phone call from someone with an Indian accent who claims to be from Microsoft or Windows.  They claim that they have been monitoring your computer and it has a bug and/or virus or some technical problem and is about to fail.  They ask you to download their software to give them remote access to your computer and it will cost you only £150 to £200.  Anyone tempted to fall for this will have all their personal details, bank accounts, credit card details, etc copied and used for goodness knows what.  And you will be charged for the privilege.

My rabbit gets a Kit Kat
22 September 2010: by Newshound
A customer left his rather fat rabbit for boarding while he went away on holiday.  His instructions were that as well as rabbit food it got cabbage, carrot and half an apple a day.  Also at lunchtime it got half a Kit Kat chocolate bar.  It was also prone to a runny tummy and if we did take it to the vet do not spend too much on it.  Kit Kat indeed!  The only place for chocolate is in me, certainly not in a rabbit.  I should also say that the rabbit has free range of the customer’s garden and never gets hay.  Well for the week it was with us it got unlimited hay and a little hard feed.  And guess what?  No runny tummy at all!
Baby rabbits
20 September 2010: by Newshound
A few days earlier I had sold a family two baby rabbits.  As my regular readers will know I never sell rabbits under 10 weeks and always provide a two-page care leaflet, as well as insisting they purchase the rabbit food that the rabbit is used to.  On the care leaflet I say three times, in bold letters, that stress and change of diet can kill a rabbit, so keep it quiet and do not change its diet.  Four days later the customer telephones complaining that one of the rabbits has the runs. “I only put it on the grass for a few hours each day and it loves it.  It eats and eats the grass.”  “Did you read the care leaflet, especially the bit about leaving them alone for two days and not changing the diet for a few weeks?” “I didn’t read it, but the children did!”  What are you meant to do?  Well you can guess the outcome. Rabbit dies and owner blames the pet shop!
 
Shop cat
16 September 2010: by Newshound
Walking back through to the till from the back shop while serving a customer with tropical fish, the customer and I both spotted the shop cat sitting in the middle of the shop floor chewing the head off a sparrow!   Even I could not thing of anything to say, I was so mortified.

Bread and butter
15 September 2010: by Newshound
A gentleman came into the shop and asked for bread and milk and was most surprised to discover it was a pet shop.  Maybe the sign outside saying “The Pet Shop” is misleading.

Chicken run!
13 September 2010: by Newshound
One of my customers, who lives a few streets away, telephoned and said they had found a chicken running loose in the street.  “Catch it up and bring it to me,” I said, thinking no way could someone catch a live chicken running around the streets.  Unbelievably, that is exactly what she did.  She came in with a chicken in a cat carrier.  So chicken of unknown origin was put into a spare rabbit hutch, where it settled down on a nest of new hay.   About an hour later the local chicken farmer came in and asked if we had his stray chicken.  Well, I say local farmer, his farm is 10 miles away in the middle of nowhere!  Apparently, he had loaded up his van with eggs to do his delivery round and the escaping chicken hopped aboard.  Once he came into town, the hen did a dash for freedom.  Let’s hope that when this hen gets home it does not tell all its mates about the good time it had at the pet shop, or else we will be inundated with escaping hens.

Shop electricity charge
9 September 2010: by Newshound
A few months ago I wrote about an horrendous electricity bill and my on-going conversation with my supplier.  It continues.  I was checking my bank account on-line when I noticed a direct debit for electricity coming out the next day for just over £1,100.  Slight panic as I had not as yet received the bill and if the charge was correct I had used nearly four times the amount of electricity as I had this time last year!  On phoning my supplier they advised me to monitor my meter every day for seven days and phone them back.  Well, seven days later, by my reckoning we are using £23-a-week’s worth of electricity, certainly not the £90 that we had been billed for!  After three more phone calls to my supplier it turns out that this was an estimated bill.  The outcome is that I am £900 in credit.


Feeding goldfish

23 August 2010: by Newshound

“How often do you feed goldfish as my fish tank always smells of sewage?”  My advice is once a day with an amount that they consume in five minutes.  Any left over after that time is a sure indication of overfeeding.  “Oh, well the Internet said feed a minimum of five times a day so that is what I have been doing.”  I had to repeat at least four times that they were grossly overfeeding and the smell was rotting fish food.  Did they listen?  I hope so.  It always amazes me that people come in for advice, then quote the Internet as if it is the only truth.

Pet hate
19 August 2010: by Newshound

Nuisance phone calls, they are driving me mad!  About a year ago I registered both my home and business phones with a service that should get rid of such calls and in all honesty I never get double glazing or conservatory salesmen calling the house.  Interesting idea to have a conservatory at home, as I live in a first floor flat!  However at the shop we get phone calls from people wanting to sell my business, change my phone account, and change my electricity account, gas account (again that could be interesting as we do not have gas).  Also clear credit card debt, sell life and health insurance and goodness know what else.  The ones that really drive me up the wall are recorded messages.  “Do not hang up; this is a recorded message etc.”  Why oh why do they phone when I am at the other end of the shop cleaning out fish tanks?

Trust me!
16 August 2010: by Newshound

Don’t you just love the customer who asks for fish then stands right in front of the tank so you cannot get to it?  Then complains if they get splashed with fish tank water.  As if I would do it deliberately!

Puppy bed
16 August 2010: by Newshound
“How much is a puppy bed?”  “Well, it depends on material, size, quality, etc.  What size of puppy is it?” “Eight weeks.”  “I appreciate that sir but a shitzu needs a different size bed from a great Dane.”  “Eight weeks.”

Frolic
11 August 2010: by Newshound
“A bag of Frolic please.  How long will it last?”  “Depends what you are feeding – a large dog will eat more than a small one.”  “It’s a dog,” came the reply.

Cat litter

11 August 2010: by Newshound

A few months ago I wrote about a customer who was buying two 30 litre bags of wood pellet cat litter a week for their one cat.  Well this sale has continued week after week.  On one Monday my delivery driver took two bags along as usual and was confronted by the customer with a strange request.  Apparently they had been storing the used litter in carrier bags at their back door and there were now so many, and they stank, that even environmental health would not touch them.  “What can I do?” asked the customer.  “Take them to the recycling centre, it’s only just down the road,” said our driver. “Oh no, I couldn’t do that, my husband has a bad back.  Surely as you deliver the litter you could take the old used litter away in your van.”  The answer she received was not repeatable.

Rabbit welfare

10 August 2010: by Newshound

Reading the letters page of pbwnews, I was interested in the letter from the Rabbit Welfare Association.  I am sure that our friends in the rabbit food manufacturing business will have something to say on the comments on rabbit foods, however my eye was drawn to a particular section: “…there are over 35,000 rabbits in rescue a year, with the RSPCA confirming that rabbits are the most neglected and abused pet in the UK.”  Two thoughts spring to mind here. 
Firstly, is the number of rabbits in rescue centres quoted a true figure that can be verified or is it a guestimate?  My other thought is how can the RSPCA state that rabbits are the most neglected and abused pet in the UK when they are not a UK wide-organisation? Answers please.


From the shopfront

14 June 2010: by Newshound

One of our younger customers came in to buy bits and pieces for their new kitten.  She was quite adamant that this kitten was a grey and white female that played with feathers on a stick.  Innocently, I asked when she acquired the kitten and how old it was.  “It’s not born yet,” came the reply, “it’s a secret for mum’s birthday.”  “So there we are: my customers can tell the colour and sex of an unborn kitten.  Still, as long as they come in and buy toys and treats for it who am I to argue.


From the shopfront

9 June 2010: by Newshound

Read in the trade press that the ECMA is very disappointed that the Welsh assembly is banning the use of electric shock collars for dogs.  Two thoughts on this.  Firstly, anyone who believes that the way to train a dog is to electrocute it should seriously consider if they are in the right line of work.  Second, if the people who advocate electric shock collars think they are so good then put one round their necks and give themselves a shock.  See how they like it.  This type of ‘raining’ is just not acceptable in a civilised society.


From the shopfront

8 June 2010: by Newshound

Acquired a new customer recently who has one indoor cat and wanted a delivered supply of 30l wood pellet cat litter.  We are currently delivering two bags per week!  After a few weeks she started paying with post-dated cheques.  I, being me, totally ignored the date and presented them to the bank as normal, and they accepted them.  A few weeks later the customer complained to my delivery driver that I was putting the cheques in the bank too early and could I present them only when the date was due.  No way, could you imagine what my wholesaler would say if I paid them two weeks in arrears!  Or to put it another way, would Tesco accept post-dated cheques?

From the shopfront

24 May 2010: by Newshound

The other day I received a letter from the performing rights society (PRS) inquiring if I played music in the shop as if I did I would need a licence at a  minimum cost of £75.  Two days later I received a phone call from them asking if I had received their letter and did I, in fact, play music in the shop – and, by the way, all conversations would be recorded.  Well, as the radio was playing in the background I could not tell a fib, so yes I do play the radio in the shop for my own pleasure.  I am in the shop 10 hours a day, six days per week so playing the radio cannot be a crime.  But how wrong I am, as long as customers can hear it then I need a licence. The caller asked what size shop I had and I think I quoted square metres instead of square feet so I now have a much larger shop than I thought!  He then informed me that the licence would cost £400 pa and this could be backdated several years.  How much?  £400 just to listen to background music and news updates, no chance.  So off went the radio for good.  I fully agree that performers should receive their just royalties but surely the radio station pays so why should a shopkeeper?


From the shopfront

20 May 2010: by Newshound

A customer asks for a six-pack of Pedigree Senior tins, which I duly get from the shelf.  “Oh dear,” says the customer. “Haven’t you got one with a happier picture of a dog on it?  That one looks sad.”  So there we are Mr Pedigree, your senior dog is too sad, get a happy one.
One of my younger customers comes in with her mother and announces that her recently-acquired hamster was born on February 3.  “How do you know that?” I ask.  “Easy,” she answers.  “You told us it was born in February so I put the hamster on top of a calendar opened on February and let it choose its own birthday by waiting for it to poo.  Where it pooed was its birthday.”  Simple logic I thought.

From the shopfront

10 May 2010: by Newshound

A potential customer comes into the shop to buy a rabbit.  After questioning them it is fairly obvious that they understand the basics, however it is also apparent that the person has some personal problems that necessitate them being constantly accompanied by a full-time carer.  Do you refuse to sell them a rabbit because you believe that they cannot care for it due to your perception, correct or otherwise, of people with mental health problems or do you sell them the rabbit because you believe they can care for it despite their problems?  In case readers are wondering what I did, I sold her the rabbit because I reasoned that her carers would not let anything happen to the rabbit.  And it was the right thing to do as we now get regular e-mail updates on its progress!


From the shopfront
13 April 2010: by Newshound

Another strange request.  A customer came in and asked to purchase a small furry toy mouse and three paper bags.  Apparently I had sold this particular customer a furry mouse a few weeks ago and had put it in a paper bag.  The cat played with the paper bag more than the furry mouse!

A customer asked us to re-home an unwanted hamster.  (Maybe I should be a re-homing service and not a pet shop).   The person freely admitted she had bought it from a local garden centre but could not be bothered to drive back to it.  More like they told her to go away, I thought.   Apparently this seven-week-old hamster had eaten its way out of its carrying box on the way home from the garden centre and bitten both children.  It then ran around the inside of the car until it found mum who was driving the car at the time and promptly bit her leg.  They diverted to the grandparents’ house to clean their wounds and put the charming hamster in a new box.  The hamster promptly bit grandma and grandpa.  Needless to say over the next few days the killer hamster took chunks out of anyone getting near it, to the extent that the children were terrified of it.  And the name of this ferocious beast – NIBBLES!

From the shopfront
30 March 2010: by Newshound

A customer came in to buy a rabbit and hutch with all the accessories.  During the transaction I asked the young lady what she was going to call her new pet.  “Trixie,” she said.  “That is what is written on the hutch so that is what I will call my rabbit.”
A customer came in to buy a bag of dog food.  “Which one?” I asked. “No idea,” came the reply.  “It is the one my daughter buys, you know the girl with the ginger hair.”
A customer came in to buy a pack of five small fat balls.  “I bought a pack at Christmas and they have all gone so I have to buy more.  Expensive wild birds these!”  So there we have it, £1 every two months is expensive feed for the wild birds.
A customer brings two price-marked rawhide bones to the counter.  “Thank you sir, that will be £5.98 please,” I said. “How much?” said the customer.  “That’s two bones at £2.99, they are priced on the label sir,” I replied.  “I will only take one, far too expensive.”  “Certainly sir, that will be £2.99, have a nice day.”  It amazes me that someone picks up two products that are clearly price-marked and then complains about the price.  What did he think two at £2.99 came to?

 

From the shopfront
15 March 2010: by Newshound

I was serving a customer with a new hamster cage and standing at the counter waiting for me was someone with a hamster in a cage.  Before I could say, “Be with you in a minute”, the woman with the hamster in a cage said, “You can have this back.  My son is completely ignoring it so I have taken it from him.”  Before I could get a word in edgeways she turned and walked out of the shop, leaving the hamster and cage on the counter. 

What could I do but carry on serving the customer who was actually buying something?  “That will be £23.99 madam.  Thank you for your business.”  Then I examined my acquisition.  To make matters worse, not only was it a make of cage that I do not stock but the hamster was definitely not one of mine.  So I put it out the back and started to close up the shop for the day. 

About five minutes later the phone rang and a young female voice said, “My mum has just brought my brother’s hamster in to you.  Well a friend of mine has agreed to take it so I want it back now.”  “Fine by me,” I said, “however, we close at 5pm prompt so you have 10 minutes to get here, or we can keep it until the morning.”  At two minutes to five a lady, who was well over the age of 16, came in to claim this hamster in a cage.  The quickest re-home in history.

 

From the shopfront
18 February 2010: by Newshound

A customer asked for seeds for the garden birds.  I directed her to a rather large display of seeds, nuts, fat balls, etc.  “Oh no, no, no!” said the customer.  “They all say for wild birds, I asked for seeds for garden birds.”   As I thought wild birds and garden birds were the same thing I was a little bit flummoxed, but maybe garden birds are what posh people feed and wild birds are what the rest of us feed. So everyone out there in pet trade land: what is the difference between wild birds and garden birds?  Let us know.

A customer came into the shop in the middle of the afternoon and asked for ‘Dog stuff’. “Yes sir , what sort of dog stuff? Food stuff? Treats stuff? Toys stuff?”  “No idea,” said the customer. “The wife said, ‘go down to the pet shop and get the dog’s stuff.’”  Now we are getting somewhere.  The wife knows exactly what she feeds the dog on and expects her husband to be as intelligent.  What she forgets is that hubby does not have a clue.  As far as he is concerned the dog gets fed something but what it is a complete mystery.  Best way forward  here is to ask the wife.  “Is the wife at home sir,” I asked.  “Yes,” he replied.  “Give me your phone number and I will ring her and see what the right stuff is,” I said.  Problem solved and the customer went home with a bag of Omega Tasty.

Good to see our friends at Hill’s going back into the treats market.  I saw the range of treats in the vet’s waiting room  back in December and wondered when we could get hold of them. Not sure about the gloss black packaging but it certainly looks very different from anything else on the market.  At a price point, of £1.49 they should sell quickly.  Let’s hope the biscuits are tasty and the customers come back for more.  Any product we can sell that is not in the supermarkets is good as far as I am concerned.

A customer asked for a  20 kilo sack of layers mash. “Certainly,”  I replied, “that’s £7.95 please.  I will go to the store and get one and I will put it in your car.  Give us two minutes.”  “Last time it had a good bit of wheat in it,”  said the customer. “Have you got the same make?”  Alarm bells start ringing.  Layers mash is a fine powdery product, mixed grains is the one with wheat in it.  With a bit of questioning it becomes apparent that what the customer wants is in fact mixed grains.  A good shopkeeper has to be a good mind-reader sometimes.

A group of people had been looking round the shop, mainly at the pets, and when they came back through to the till area one of them apologised for upsetting the rabbits.  Thinking they had done something dreadful, I asked what they had done. “I was eating a rabbit-shaped chocolate bar,” said one, “then I suddenly thought that this would upset the rabbits, so I stopped eating it.”  “Cannibals!” I said as they left the shop giggling.


From the shopfront
22 January 2010: by Newshound

December was good.  Sales up, profits up.  Not a lot, but better than expected.

Recent highlights from the shopfront include:
A customer insisted on squeaking every toy until she found just the right one with the right pitch and tone that her dog liked.  It is so irritating when children play with the squeakies…but when adults do it!

I had a home delivery to one customer who would not be in to pay me.  As she was a regular I said just send a cheque in the post.  “Oh no,” she said, “the house key is under the front doormat.  Let yourself in and I will leave the money in an envelope in the hall. Just leave the food in the hall and lock up after you.  Just do not forget to put the key back under the mat.”  Luckily I was not a burglar in a former life.
Like many retailers I buy from a variety of manufacturers and wholesalers.  And, like many retailers, I buy an economy dog food by the pallet.  To be honest, I absolutely dread when this is delivered as the company is what I term a drop and run carrier.  That is, all they are interested in is dropping the pallet on the road and driving off.  Any slight problem and the driver doesn’t want to know.  I thought I had heard all the excuses under the sun but the last deliverer really took the biscuit.  He could not deliver because he could not let the tailgate down because the road was too uneven!  Yes that’s right, the road outside my shop is not flat enough to drop a tailgate!  The driver actually drove around the village until he found a suitable flat bit of road, dropped the tailgate and then drove back to the shop.  And you wonder why I dread these deliveries.

A gentleman came into the shop to pay an account. “Whose name is on the invoice?” I asked. “My wife’s,” came the reply.
A lady asked if we sold bird feeders. “Yes,” I replied, “what sort had you in mind, we have quite a range?”  “For birds,” came the reply.

It always amazes me how customers blame the food for every problem their dog or cat has.  It cannot be anything else but the food.  One lady came in and said that she normally fed her dog on a premium brand of dry puppy food but had decided to change it on to the adult version.  The dog was just over a year old so this was the right thing to do.  However she stated that this had given her dog an epileptic fit and she was taking it to the vet for advice.  Well, I am not a medical person but I am pretty sure food does not induce epilepsy.  But no, she was adamant the food was to blame.  After talking this through for a few minutes she said that in fact this was the third fit the dog had had. Apparently they were happening virtually every two months.  So not the food then, I said, but she was not convinced.