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Walking into Red’s Hometown Market IGA, one of the first things you see is a dedicated pet store within the store, Sadie’s Natural Pet. The boutique offers premium, high-quality, natural pet food and treats for the town’s furry friends. While IGA recently hosted a webinar discussing the financial benefits to a strong pet care offering, the Longmire family launched the expansion of their pet aisle into a separate boutique almost a year ago after losing their dog, Sadie, to seizure complications at just eight years old that may have been caused by a food allergy.
They turned that heartache into a positive for their fellow pet lovers. With just over 1,300 people in their town, the nearest dedicated pet food store is a 40-minute drive. “We wanted to offer all-natural items and have a better selection of high quality food for pets in our area,” says Jayme Longmire, who is helping develop and promote the boutique within the store. In Sadie’s Natural Pet, you won’t find rawhide or other items that are commonly marketed as pet-friendly when they may actually be harmful to them. “The majority of the items through these lines are potato-free, quite a few of the items are completely grain-free, and their number one ingredient is high quality protein,” Longmire says.
The store has been up and running for about a year, and so far, Longmire says that the response to the boutique and its selection has been positive—especially regarding the store’s local Midwest brands, like Wisconsin-made Fromm, and Zignature, which is made in Minnesota and South Dakota.
Red’s Hometown Market IGA stepped up their marketing for Sadie’s in December, and Longmire believes that shoppers coming in for Sadie’s are staying and buying more in the grocery aisles. They plan to review sales figures after a few pet-focused events this summer, like a pet appreciation day with freebies like toys and treats for pets who visit the shop during the event.
For shoppers who already love their national brands, Red's Hometown Market is happy to serve them in the traditional pet aisle outside of Sadie's in the grocery store itself. In that aisle, shoppers can find healthy options from national brands like Purina One, which boasts better ingredients, Purina Beyond's grain-free line, and Rachael Ray's Nutrish.
To motivate shoppers to try more natural products, the store puts out signage that focuses on the premium ingredients, encouraging shoppers to save money in the long run by purchasing products with less filler and more protein that will ultimately result in less food keeping the pets fuller longer.
While the price difference between more traditional pet food and the natural brands has caused hesitation in some shoppers to switch their pets’ foods, Longmire hopes that her initiative to educate shoppers on the benefits of a more natural diet will eventually result in customers switching to healthier pet foods. “Not everybody is willing to make the change [to natural pet food] so easily and so quickly because there is a pretty significant price difference,” she says. “There’s quite a bit of education that we’re trying to get out there and offer people.”
The Longmire family is spreading the word on pet health and attracting new clientele while continuing to provide traditional pet care products to loyal customers, serving as stellar examples of IGA entrepreneurs and community leaders.