Natural Pet Essentials Predicts More Raw Food Sales in its Future

Kim Matsko, owner of Natural Pet Essentials

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. 

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