Kim Matsko, owner of Natural Pet Essentials in Charlottesville, Va., reports that raw beef patties are the store's No. 1 seller and she believes raw sales will only continue to grow.
Pet Product News: What are the top-selling products in your store right now?
Kim Matsko: Primal raw beef patties are a No. 1 seller in our store, along with Fromm Family Foods, both dog and cat, canned and dry. Weruva Press Your Lunch! cat cans do really well. Any treats from our bulk/raw bar—whether it be a Stash bully stick or a Vital Essentials duck neck or Summit dog chews. Also, the 2 Hounds Design Freedom Harnesses are hugely popular. We have a lot of great trainers in our area who recommend these harnesses and refer customers to our shop to purchase them. Lastly, Answers raw goat’s milk is a fantastic product that does really well.
PPN: What are your favorite products right now?
Matsko: Oh my gosh … so many great products that I love. I hardly know where to begin. Hyper Pet LickiMats are definitely a favorite of mine. I really like the Stella & Chewy’s Hip & Joint Hemp Oil Supplemental Soft Chews, also. I have a little rescue dachshund mix with a bad back and neck, and, if she could, she would do back flips for those. SmallBatch raw is also a personal favorite because I really appreciate their efforts in making sure their products are responsibly sourced.
PPN: What industry trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely?
Matsko: Obviously the canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) debate. This has, unfortunately, impacted small retailers and my business in a way I’ve not experienced to date. But I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open to industry trends and looking for ways to improve and innovate.
PPN: What business challenge are you currently in the process of tackling?
Matsko: Making the most of the space available in my store. I am constantly moving products and displays to better showcase my offerings and carry all the items my customers seek.
PPN: What business goal are you hoping to achieve in 2020?
Matsko: Adding more freezers and more raw! Improving and updating my digital footprint. Getting back to my roots and offering some of the great events I used to host in the early days. I’m also working on a special project that I want to launch in the local community this year, but I’m keeping that under wraps until I have some of the details worked out.
PPN: What is your best tip for connecting with customers?
Matsko: Willingness to work with them in a way that suits them best. Listening to them and asking questions. But also, just being real. Having real conversations with people about real life. We’re extremely close with a lot of our customers. It’s like an extended family.
Get an inside look at Natural Pet Essentials in our gallery below.