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Store Front: Keeping Your Pet Store Clean

Posted: Aug. 21, 2012, 1:40 p.m. EDT

Retailers can maintain a spotless store despite life’s little “accidents.”
By Kaitlin Foley

Even the most well-trained pet has an accident every once in a while. And with the sights, sounds and excitement of accompanying their owner into a pet store, there is a good chance an accident will happen right on the sales floor. Most pet store owners, though, have learned to take a proactive approach to cleaning up after their four-legged customers.

Accidents Do Happen
Pet speciality retailers know that if they allow pets, especially dogs, into their stores, accidents are bound to happen. But, most have accepted that it all comes with the territory.

“Every now and then, we get an accident in our store,” said Melanie Dallas, owner of Sloppy Kisses pet boutique in Saratoga Springs and Clifton Park, N.Y. “But it really is no big deal.”

Keeping a pet store clean
At B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala., each department is cleaned by the associates staffing that area several times a day. Courtesy of B&B Pet Stop
While accidents do happen, having an inviting environment that allows owners to bring their pets along outweighs the downside of cleaning up the occasional mess, Dallas added.

Sally Adams Trufant, general manager of B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala., understands that sometimes dogs just can’t help themselves.

“For a visiting dog, there are so many ‘interesting’ smells in our store that they often can’t help themselves—they have to mark a spot or two as their own,” she said. “We just look at it as part of doing business and never make the owner feel badly about it.”

The Big Question: Who Cleans It Up?
While most retailers have accepted that accidents do happen, there are differing opinions on exactly how it should be cleaned up and who should do the cleaning. Should the owner do the dirty work? Or is it up to the retailer? Turns out, there is no right answer.

Most of the time, the pet owner doesn’t notice or the owner is so flustered over the accident that they don’t properly clean up, said Patti Storms, owner of Well Bred in Chester, N.J. She added that either her or her staff usually takes care of the mess.

Industry Voices
What methods do you use to keep your store smelling nice?

“On nice days, we typically have our front and back doors open for a nice breeze and use essential oils throughout the store to keep it smelling fresh.”
Alyse Stark, marketing manager for Only Natural Pet Store in Boulder, Colo.

“We have an exhaust system and have pet odor absorbers all over the store.“
Julie Pilas, owner of Elephant Nose Pet Center in Morristown, N.J.

“We have an air purifier/ventilation system available, but we have only had to use it twice. Occasionally, we use scented candles and sprays if there is a particularly smelly accident.“
Patti Storms, owner of Well Bred in Chester, N.J.

“We have two heavy-duty Lightning Air Negative Ion air purifying machines in our small animal department. About 20 years ago, we bought a commercial grade popcorn popper and almost every weekend we pop popcorn and give it away. Popcorn is inexpensive and nothing beats the smell of fresh hot popcorn.”
Sally Adams Trufant, general manager of B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala.

“We bake our own dog treats in store, so it always smells nice.”
Melanie Dallas, owner of Sloppy Kisses in Saratoga Springs and Clifton Park, N.Y.

“When the owner does notice, they make such a fuss at being embarrassed that their dog had an accident they don’t focus on getting it picked up; so we run the risk of the dog or person tracking the mess through the store,” she noted.

At Only Natural Pet Store in Boulder, Colo., the cleanup process just depends on the customer.

“If the pet owner offers to clean up the accident, that’s great, but we’re more than happy to do it ourselves,” said Alyse Stark, marketing manager.

B&B Pet Stop’s Trufant agreed, noting that she would rather have her customers shopping her store  than cleaning up messes.

“The customer will often offer to help, but we usually clean up any mess,” she said. “We want our customers to get busy shopping; we don’t want them spending their time cleaning up a ‘spill on aisle three.’”

Creating a Cleaning Policy
In order to avoid any embarrassment or confusion during a “sticky situation,” many retailers have created a policy toward cleaning up accidents and cleaning the store in general. Some retailers have gone as far as creating a “cleaning crew” who are in charge of keeping the store spotless.

B&B Pet Stop sells fish, birds, reptiles and small animals, which requires much of the staff to pitch in and help with the cleaning.

“We have an ‘Animal Care Crew’ of three people who come in every day to feed and care for the animals and clean,” Trufant said. “They clean the cages and habitats and maintain the restrooms.”

Duty lists are used in most of the departments so the staff can better keep track of what needs to be done on a daily basis, Trufant reported. Employees then sign the list when they start a task and highlight it once it is complete. She also issues a monthly cleaning list that covers the “deep-clean” tasks, such as repainting bagging tables and cleaning below pallet racks.

In comparison, some owners prefer to take the cleaning into their own hands—literally.

“I am a clean freak and I have a very sensitive nose—no one can clean better than me,” said Julie Pilas, owner of Elephant Nose Pet Center in Morristown, N.J. “I clean the store constantly. I vacuum several times a day, I clean the counters at least 10 times a day and I clean the floors each night.”

Pet store staff clean up shop
The staff at B&B Pet Stop knows exactly what cleaning tasks need to be completed thanks to a daily cleaning list. Courtesy of B&B Pet Shop
Cleaning the store should be a high priority for all retailers, noted Trina Bicknell, vice president of sales at PetEdge Dealer Services in Beverly, Mass. 

“Make it a priority, just like you would stock the shelves and count down the register every night,” Bicknell said. “Cleaning should be standard daily activity. Make a rotating schedule for your associates that holds them accountable for checking the store several times a day to ensure that it is clean, and smells clean.”

The Right Products for the Job
Keeping a store clean and fresh-smelling is important to every retailer, but they also need to ensure the cleaning products they are using are safe for their four-legged customers and any other animals in their store.

Sloppy Kisses’ Dallas uses a spray called Wee-Wee, from Four Paws, to clean the store’s hardwood floors, she said, adding that this product is safe to use around animals and effectively eliminates any lingering odors.

For Well Bred’s laminate floors, Storms said she uses Simple Green or Greening the Cleaning All-Purpose Cleaner.
Stark of Only Natural Pet Store opts for Nature’s Miracle and Get Serious to clean up any in-store accidents, she reported, noting that she also uses the store’s very own Only Natural Pet Stain & Odor Solution.


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