It only took a six-minute drive home from a friend’s house for Andrea Deutsch to arrive at a business concept that would make the one-time lawyer into the proud owner of a pet store that’s equal parts Whole Foods and L.L. Bean.
In other words, Pennsylvania’s pampered pet utopia.
“Spot’s – The Place for Paws” is Deutsch’s six-minute epiphany come to life; still the cat’s meow after 11 years in business in Narberth, PA.
“I had been a lawyer for 10 years prior and I realized I wasn’t loving what I was doing,” said Deutsch. “I thought about what I liked, and I’ve always had an interest in dogs and cats. I was never without a pet growing up.”
A quick trip to the bookstore to pick up a copy of “Small Business for Dummies,” a written business plan and a small loan were the ingredients that completed Deutsch’s revelatory idea.
That’s not to say Spot’s hasn’t evolved as a business since that fateful drive home.
“The initial concept was everything but food,” said Deutsch, describing the business plan for Spot’s. Her initial idea for Spot’s was to sell doggy life jackets, a cute albeit hard-to-sell idea that didn’t build much demand in her landlocked area of Pennsylvania. It was her sudden and unexpected interest in healthy nutrition for animals and strong desire to learn the science behind the food that eventually got her into the pet chow business.
“I took in as much information as I could and became a local expert in pet nutrition,” she said, as she was learning how to make her own pet food. “You have to understand why you’re feeding something to your animals.”
All of her studying and research certainly paid off. In true guerilla marketing fashion, Deutsch began leaving samples of her healthier pet food at local veterinarian offices to drum up a name for Spot’s. Soon, vets began referring pet owners to Deutsch and praising her healthier pet food options, which feature quality meat proteins and avoid substitutes such as corn, wheat, soy and byproducts.
“I’ve watched different trends come and go,” she said in regards to pet food, but added “ingredients and sourcing of ingredients is what really matters.”
Deutsch’s self-taught knowledge in nutrition has given her a better understanding of dogs with allergic and digestive problems caused by food, allowing her to reach out to acquire good business of her own to keep Spot’s afloat in a sea of big pet store chain competitors.
“You have to create a niche for yourself to get people to come [to your store],” she said.
It’s a testament to Deutsch’s passion for animal nutrition and pets that has enabled her small business to compete with the big dogs, in addition to the fact that she prides herself on making Spot’s a genuine small business with a personal connection to its customers.
“I really enjoy helping people and dealing with customers,” she said. “[Spot’s] is more of a personal experience than other pet stores.”
It’s that caring mentality and her drive to provide the best of the best that helps not only pets, but the people who love them.