Talking Shop: Jessie Yale, Mountain Mongrels
July 8, 2014
Jessie Yale and Therese Marie, Owners, Mountain Mongrels, 525 Grand Ave, Grand Lake
How long have you been in business? This is our fourth summer for retail and first summer boarding dogs at our facility.
How did you get started in this business? We love dogs and cats, and we used to spend a lot of time and money in pet supply stores finding that perfect toy, the best treats and the healthiest food for our pets. We talked about having our own store for years and then one day said, "let's do it!" After we started the retail store, we had people begging us to watch their dogs. We started doing "in-home" pet sitting and then gained enough clientele to open our own facility.
Business mission statement: At Mountain Mongrels, our pets are family and we treat them that way. Whether you are shopping in the store or using our variety of pet services, we strive to provide quality, variety and most of all fun. Eat, Love, Play at Mountain Mongrels!
Ways to keep up staff morale?
“If you’re having a bad day, go play with the dogs. It helps almost everything.”
Success in the mission: I would say that we have succeeded in our mission; it's what makes us and the dogs happy.
Challenges to the mission: We might need a second location as we are growing fast with the pet services.
How do you cope with Grand County's seasonal surges? We branched out into pet services because the retail business in a seasonal town is tough to rely on at best. We've learned that in the off season, you do whatever it takes to keep afloat and we are pretty excited about having made it through our first winter in our new location and new dog-boarding facility.
What do you think is the biggest business barrier in Grand County? Not enough "steady" customer traffic in the off-season.
What do you think is your biggest business barrier on a state and/or national level? Large chain store competition… our biggest competition is the Denver area.
How does your business give back to the community?
We give back as much as we can. We consistently donate to local fundraisers and organizations — we love to give. We are also strong believers in spending your money in your own community. We do 90 percent of our shopping in the town of Grand Lake, including food and gas.
Give examples of how you are environmentally responsible. We carry as many environmentally responsible products as we can.
How do you support other local businesses? We are committed to shopping local, even if it means paying more money… We spend our money wisely, not to save a dollar here or there, but to help support the community we want to be a part of.
How do you feel about direct competition? We are fortunate enough to not have a whole lot of competition in our local area, but even though Denver is 100 miles away, it is direct competition. Although we have loyal customers who go out of their way to buy no matter what from us, we find it challenging to carry everything that people need or want in case they don't make it to Denver, when customers are not inclined to buy those things from us on a regular basis because they travel to Denver. Quite often, we lose money on items we try to keep in stock, just so our customers have them if they need them. Although, large chain store have the ability to buy cheaper, therefore having the ability to sell cheaper, we try really hard to sell at competitive prices.
What business products or services do you get outside of Grand County? Website hosting.
How do you market yourself (and track results)? Social networking and local brochures in local businesses. Moe's Maps is probably the biggest one for us, other than the internet and word of mouth.
What's the main thing you have you learned in your years in business? Customer service and going out of our way to give our customers what they need and want. Listening is most important. It's impossible to provide 100 percent, and we have to let go of some things, which is hard sometimes when you want to be able to provide those things, but it's most important to build that positive relationship between us and our customers.
What do you think is the most significant economic driver in Grand County? Tourism
If you could go back in time and start up your business venture all over again, what would you do differently? Provide pet services right away — that would have made the first two years a lot easier.
What's the best compliment you received from a client/customer? "My dog gets so excited when we pass your store/boarding facility and he/she wouldn't let me drive by without stopping"
How much of a role does technology play in your business? Internet is huge
What's the general key to making a customer/client happy? Listening to what they need, and being willing to provide that
What are some tricks such as signs or window displays that you've noticed work in attracting customers to your front door? We have done a lot of work to the outside of our new building. Landscaping and a lot of happy color. People notice how nice our business is before they even see our sign.
What are some ways to keep up staff morale? If you're having a bad day, go play with the dogs. It helps almost everything.