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Michele Hanson Pahan, owner of Riley’s Natural Pet Supply in Littleton, Colo., explains how she's trying to keep her store competitive in the face of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pet Product News: What is Riley’s Natural Pet Supply best known for?

Michele Hanson Pahan: Riley’s is best known for our beloved in-store community events, festivals and incredible customer service. Each year, we hold an annual customer appreciation event in our parking lot, with product vendors handing out free samples, pet adoption groups, raffle items, various local small businesses and much more—with all proceeds going back to the participating pet rescue groups. In past years, we have held community craft fairs, educational seminars, pictures with Santa and haunted houses, with all proceeds going back to pet rescue groups, and pet adoption events.

PPN: What are the top-selling products in your store right now? 

Hanson Pahan: Top selling in our store right now are Zignature dog food, Farmina dog and cat food, Fromm dog and cat food, and NutriSource dog and cat food.

PPN: What are your favorite products right now? 

Hanson Pahan: My favorite products are the pet cannabidiol (CBD) products we sell, Suzie’s CBD, Pet Releaf and Colorado Hemp Honey. Other favorites of mine are the raw products we sell, such as Steve’s and Stella & Chewy’s.

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PPN: What industry trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely? 

Hanson Pahan: We as a community store are very focused on the increasing growth of the CBD industry, as well as the factual science regarding DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). The growth of the CBD industry has brought in many new customers looking for natural alternatives to various health ailments. With much misleading information regarding DCM, we as a store are working very hard to provide the most up-to-date, factual and scientifically peer-reviewed information to our customers to ensure we match the most nutritionally sound food for our conscientious community. 

PPN: What business challenges are you currently in the process of tackling?

Hanson Pahan: The greatest challenge I faced was navigating and finding balance after the sudden death of my husband and business partner a year after the store’s opening. Now with a national pandemic, we are finding creative ways to compete with online shopping, such as curbside pickup, free limited-area delivery, a personalized customer reserve program, phone nutritional consultations, social media promotional events, and Instagram and Facebook photo contests for prizes.

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PPN: What is your best tip for connecting with customers?

Hanson Pahan: The best tip for connecting with customers is leaving an incredible lasting impression upon their first visit at our store. We connect with our customers via different social media outlets, such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, our website, Nextdoor, and in-store posters and fliers.