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Treating Community Like Family

Posted: January 17, 2014, 11:30 a.m. EDT


Siblings at B&B Pet Stop work together to benefit many charities in Mobile, Ala.

By Arden Moore

Shoppers who step into B&B Pet Stop Inc. in Mobile, Ala., should be prepared for an exciting, circuslike atmosphere, with different activities going on in various spots around the 14,400-square-foot pet superstore.

At any time, a busload of excited elementary school children could parade through during a field trip; a crowd might gather around Pickles, the store’s bird mascot who sports a clownish personality; or customers with their dogs, cats or guinea pigs might be posing for a professional photographer snapping pet portraits.

All of this hustle and bustle is exactly how the owners of this store—the brother-and-sister act of Bill, Mary and Sally Trufant—prefer it. And so, it seems, do people in this Gulf Coast community.

"As our regular customers know, there’s always something going on at the B&B Pet Stop,” said Sally, the general manager, who is in charge of all of the promotional events, hiring and training staff, and advertising. "I maintain the event calendar to ensure we always have a circuslike atmosphere in the store. Our theory is that you can’t get that online!”

B&B Pet Shop
Kids frequently visit B&B Pet Stop on Wednesdays for fun and games. B&B Pet Stop Inc.

For its commitment to keeping Gulf Coast pets happy and healthy for more than 30 years and reaching out to a diverse group of pet and people charities in the Mobile area, B&B Pet Stop has been selected for this month’s Pet Product News International Power in Partnerships series sponsored by Halo, Purely for Pets.

Giving Back Is The Mantra
"Giving back has been a big part of who we are since the very beginning,” said Sally. "Why? The quick answer is because it is the right thing to do. The longer answer is because we live here, our customers live here and we are part of this community. We want to live in a strong community and we know we have to do what it takes to make it strong.”

Brother Bill is dubbed "The King” and is in charge of buying the thousands of items offered inside the store and working with manufacturers, breeders, importers, fish farmers and more. Mary serves as the operations manager and handles the payroll, billing and maintenance of the store and its vehicles.

Each sibling is active in different local and national groups, with Bill serving on the board of the World Pet Association, Mary helping to start a charity bike ride called RideYellow and Sally helping host events for the Mobile Arts Council.

"Bill, Mary and I have a unique working relationship in that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company,” said Sally. "We laugh a lot and eat lunch together every day, brainstorming about some new way we can better serve our community. And no matter what charity group any one of us is involved in, we can count on the others to pitch in and help.”

Each Wednesday, groups of school children head to the store for a half-hour educational program on various animals. Each child receives a free coloring book. The store also invites children from day care centers, church groups and scout troops to come for field trips. And teachers merit a 10 percent discount off store purchases.

Rounding Up for Charities
Since starting a Round Up for Charities program in 2007 in which customers can choose to round up their purchase to the next dollar amount to benefit a specific nonprofit group each month, the store has raised more than $118,000.

Bob Burnett, director of the Mobile Arts Council, was en route to B&B Pet Stop when contacted by Pet Product News International by phone.

"Thanks to the customers who shop at the B&B, I’m on my way to pick up a check for more than $1,400 raised for the Mobile Arts Council during the month of November,” Burnett said. "Our council is here for all of the arts in our community, and through donations, we are able to benefit quilters, wood crafters, watercolor painters and so many artists. The folks at the B&B have a strong presence at so many community events and I just can’t say enough good things about Sally and her family.”

The Mobile SPCA also garnered about $1,400 this year as one of the chosen charities for the store’s Round Up campaign.

"For any event we have, we can count on Sally and the B&B Pet Stop to be sponsors, give us prizes and help us raise donations,” said Janine Woods, director of the Mobile SPCA. "They’ve been there for us for our ‘Spay-ghetti’ dinner, our Putts for Mutts and so many other events. When you walk into the B&B, it is always clean, well-stocked and packed with good, quality items. And, you can always find someone in each department who knows their area very well and can assist you. I like that.”

Meet the Cool "Krewe”
The Trufant siblings grew up in New Orleans, which explains why they playfully refer to their staff as the krewe—a reference to the various Mardi Gras parades.

"People come to work at B&B Pet Stop and stay for years. We have very little turnover,” Sally said. "Our krewe knows us, our standards and they understand our store mission. We have 42 on our staff and they contribute to the community as much as we do.”

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