Petwell Supply Blog
A Bittersweet Two Year Anniversary Post
Today marks 2 years since I opened the doors to Petwell Supply. Given the state of the world, and the state of small businesses everywhere, it is a bittersweet moment.
The last two years have been filled with many highs and lows, with the last 6 months being especially challenging.
Since March, I often get the question "...how are things going?" I can tell the underlying question really is: "are you going to make it?" The answer is: I'm not sure.
When COVID hit in March, I lost 75% of the business overnight and had to lay off eleven people. Beyond the financial devastation of covid, some of the trauma my team and I faced in the early months is still with me. Most of our tight-knit team of 11 was laid off over zoom, and although I tried to provide closure and ongoing opportunities for us to connect and heal together, it fell short of any type of closure you would need in this situation. When I returned back to the store after a brief closure in early March, I was surrounded by the ghosts of our team: A leftover meal in the fridge, personal photographs in the office, and an extra pair of shoes, among other personal belongings that you would find in a space shared by 11 people. The grief was hard to face, and on top of it, I lost one of my dear friends (39 years old and totally healthy) to COVID the same week.
At first, there was no real plan to move forward. I just showed up every day, filled orders for delivery, and tried to pay the bills. I felt an enormous responsibility to our community (and still do) to keep everyone safe, which is why our store remains mostly closed for "regular" shopping.
This shake up for many, myself included, has provided some really valuable time to ask really important life questions and time to dream about future paths. I'm still navigating my way through this as best I can; listening to my gut about what feels right, and listening carefully to my intuition about next steps, both short and long term. Lately my inspiration has led to me reconnecting with my former love: pet food, and working on producing an online dog food cooking class (sign up here), collaborating with an artist to produce custom embroidered trucker hats with your pets on them (coming soon!) and dabbling in e-commerce analytics and advertising.
Petwell Supply, in all its forms, has been my love letter to this community (and its pets) for the last two years, and possibly for years to come. I have until November 1st to make a firm decision about renewing the lease for another three years. I go back and forth about it every day, every hour, and sometimes every minute. Sometimes I want to re-sign my lease for another 3 years because it's too heartbreaking to think about not seeing you and your pets all the time. Other times I wonder if there are better ways I can put my skills, interests, and resources towards serving pets near and far. I am hopeful that if I do decide on another path for myself that I will be able to find a buyer for this location, who can continue to provide important and needed services and products in this community. That said, if you know of anyone who would be interested in this opportunity, please let me know.
In the meantime, I'm grateful to each and every one of you for being with me on this journey. You and your pets make it all worth it.
- Emily Lagasse
Yes, We're Open. Here's How to Shop.
COVID-19 has changed the way everyone does business, and we are no exception! Please read below for answers to some of your most frequently asked questions:
Q: Are you open?
A: Yes, we are open, and offer two convenient ways for you to shop with us:
1) You can visit us during business hours (mask required). Unfortunately, at this time we cannot let customers fully enter the store to browse and touch merchandise, but we are more than happy to assist you from a safe distance.
2) You can order online and schedule a curbside pick-up, local delivery, or have us ship via USPS or UPS.
Q: How does curbside pick-up work?
A: Place your order on our online shop, just as you would on a regular ecommerce site. When you arrive at the checkout page, select pick-up. Once your order has been prepared, you will receive an email alerting you that your order is ready for pick-up. You are welcome to come by during our business hours and someone will grab your order for you.
Q: Is there a fee for delivery?
A: We are currently offering free delivery to all of Cambridge & Somerville, and parts of Arlington. We are only delivering on Wednesdays, so please keep that in mind when placing your order. If you place an order for delivery and decide you can't wait, you can always swing by to pick up your order during business hours.
Q: How can I help your business during this time?
A: It's been so heartwarming to see everyone in our community support their local businesses, including Petwell Supply, during this time. We appreciate how you have navigated our work-in-progress website and new policies to shop with us. Other ways you can continue to help would be by referring your friends our way! We also ship all over the country, and are happy to serve your friends near and far. If you want to send a dog or cat friend a gift, we have created our pet-o-grams (with free shipping) to do just that.
- Emily Lagasse
Black Lives Matter. Period.
At Petwell Supply, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, including those protesting against: racism, police violence, and systemic injustices impacting Black people in both our local and national communities.
I have the privilege of knowing so many of our customers on a personal level, and am inspired by and grateful for those of you protesting, donating, and contributing time and energy towards the long journey to repair social injustices to create a better, more just world for all. Seeing your involvement and commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement is another reason, on an ever growing list of reasons, I feel so grateful to be a part of both the Somerville and Petwell Supply community.
I have been carefully watching, listening, and learning over these past few weeks to understand what we, as a small local business, can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Those who know me understand that when I commit to something, I am all in (not unlike a dog with a bone), which is why it was so important for me to carefully assess our action plan before making an announcement. Ultimately, I want to be sure that what we commit to as a company is sustainable in the long term, and will contribute to lasting, positive change.
After careful reflection, I would like to share how we, at Petwell Supply, are committed to progressing the Black Lives Matter movement:
1) We are actively seeking Black-owned pet product businesses to support. We are scouring Etsy and various wholesalers that carry pet products, looking for Black-owned businesses from which we can purchase pet products to highlight, and have available for purchase in our store. If you become aware of Black-owned pet product brands or businesses, please let us know. This will be part of an ongoing effort on our part to create more inclusivity in the brands we carry and support in our store.
2) We will be making a concerted effort to seek out Black applicants for future job posts. In the past, we have posted open positions on various job boards like Indeed and Craigslist, and, going forward, we will make an effort to post on additional and more diverse channels, as well as find Black-majority career fairs we can recruit from.
3) Our team will be participating in a year-long mentorship program in Boston, working with young, Black-owned businesses. As someone who has been an entrepreneur for the past 7 years, I can say, without a doubt, that I would not be where I am today without the mentors I have had to help me along the way. I hope that as a team with an extensive network and combined experience and expertise in: entrepreneurship, retail, and ecommerce, that we can help support the next generation of Black entrepreneurs.
These three initiatives are a small part of a larger commitment to amplify Black-owned businesses, and become a part of a more inclusive society.
Emily & The Petwell Supply Team
- Emily Lagasse
COVID-19 Grooming Drop-Off & Pick-Up Process
We are looking forward to welcoming you back for grooming! Please be sure to read all of our grooming policies & procedures here.
Due to COVID-19, we are following new protocols, specifically related to drop-off and pick-up. Please familiarize yourself with these procedures prior to your next appointment.
1) Arrival: Upon arrival, if you notice another client waiting in the grooming drop off area by the front of the store, please wait outside until that client departs. When you enter for your appointment, we request that only ONE person enter our store with your dog. Please pay attention to signage upon entering, and wait in the designated area, as you will not be permitted to enter the store fully.
We require that the person dropping your dog off wear a mask. We will not accept your pet for grooming if you are not wearing a mask. You will be turned away and charged a cancellation fee of $50 if you arrive without a mask.
2) Speaking with the Groomer: Due to the backlog of clients we are attempting to assist at this time, you will have very limited time to cover your specific requests with our groomer. Please understand this is not personal, but is also a requirement by the state to keep indoor conversations to a minimum. Moving through these conversations quickly is also the only way we can serve everyone in a timely and, more important, safe fashion.
3) Contactless Drop-Off
After your conversation with our groomer, you will be asked to sanitize your hands and place our slip lead over your dog’s head and remove your dog’s collar/harness/leash and take them with you. (This is demonstrated in the video, below.)
Cats must be brought to us in a secure carrier, which will safely be disinfected by our team before and after handling by our team.
4) Contactless Pick-Up & Payment:
We will give you a call 10-15 minutes before your dog is ready to be picked up. When you arrive, please let us know you are here, and please wait outside as we bring your dog back to the doggy pick-up zone.
We will ask you to sanitize your hands, and remove our lead and put your dog's collar and leash back on. Our groomer will cover any relevant information about your dog's visit at this time. You will also be able to schedule your next appointment and make purchases within the store (we will grab what you need).
Our team will calculate your total from a safe distance, and will be able to add a tip on your total for you, if you wish to leave one by credit card. We cannot accept any cash payments at this time. If you would like to bring a tip in cash, please bring money in an envelope.
Our wireless credit card reader is now installed at the front of the store, enabling a socially distant checkout experience.
- Emily Lagasse