For the Love of Pets
The cheerful burble of fish pumps greets you as you enter McFaith Feed and Pet Supply, a small corner store in Gentilly. McFaith’s owner, Alonso McDaniels, used to show American Bullies at dog shows all around the country. Almost ten years ago, at a show in North Carolina, he met a fellow breeder who owned several pet stores. McDaniels’ interest was piqued.
Then a few months later he was in a kennel/booth next to the same man and after much discussion about the pet industry, he decided to open a store. He’d been working at the city’s sanitation department when he, along with many others, was laid off. He made the decision to use his severance package to start his full-service pet supply store.
And it’s not a bad business to be in as according to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 84.6 millions homes. And these loyal companions need food, toys, daycare, grooming, training, beds, cages, medical services and so much more.
According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2017, $69.51 billion was spent on our pets with the following breakdown: food – $29.07 billion; supplies – $15.11 billion; vet care – $17.07 billion; live animal purchases – $2.1 billion; and pet services – $6.16 billion.
McFaith started nine years ago in the Marigny but moved to its current Gentilly eight years ago.
“Many of our customers followed us to the new location,” says Caprice Clipps, store manager. “But we get customers from all over the city.”
The small 800-square-foot corner store carries several lines of pet food including natural and holistic pet foods for dogs, cats, birds, ferrets and turtles. It also offers cat litter, pet bedding, chicken feed, toys and treats.
“Generally, Alonso just gets what people ask for,” says Clipps. “He doesn’t stock things because he thinks they might sell, he stocks things because he knows they will sell. That’s why the fish fly out the store, because customers have asked for them.”
However, the store’s main source of revenue is its grooming services.
“They take such wonderful care of our dog,” said loyal customer Penny Williams on the company’s Facebook page. “Our dog is quite happy when we get her from boarding and she always smells great when we pick her up.”
The small business, as so many other small businesses, survives through good word of mouth and a loyal customer base. McDaniel’s also uses social media and plans to expand this use to help get the word out about his business.
“The best part of the business, without a doubt, is our customers,” he says. “We start talking pets, then we’re talking about family and what’s going on in the world. There’s no doubt in my mind starting this business was the very best decision I ever made.”
McFaith Feed and Pet Supply
4702 Paris Ave