Our Main Street community is still a place of importance to our lives. As a local independent retailer, I have the opportunity to meet others in the community who commit to making a difference in the lives of people right where they live. It always surprises me to find the similarities of the mission, community focus, and value structure in my conversations. I realize through my personal relationships and contacts of business that I am not alone, not unappreciated, and a valuable part of the day to day life in the Perkiomen Valley area.
So much has changed since I first became a retail store owner! I remember the thoughts that started that decision to go into business for myself. My goal was to continue to operate a 16 years old feed and pet operation in Lansdale, PA. I was able to secure the financing and a long term buy-out agreement from the original owners, and my dream of becoming an entrepreneur was realized! I was now serving the North Penn area as the only independent premium pet food and supply outlet in the area. I was content to stay at the current facility where the store resided at that time but was open to other options in the area with better retail visibility.
In May of 1997, a fire in that building destroyed my business and forced me to find a new home. We salvaged what we could from the smoke and water-soaked remains, and relocated the store to 1100 North Broad Street, about a block and a half from the previous building site. As we found a more visible retail storefront, very close to the original spot, my wife and I thought this would make recovery very quick from the fire and restoration to the previous level of sales easier. In reality, I was in for a tough dose of reality. Old clients left us, even though the store was only closed two weeks before being reopened. My family was surviving solely on my wife’s income and trying to survive the start-up phase of the new location. Although I had at the time 18 years of pet industry experience to guide me, I was floundering in debt and challenge.
My story from there took a positive turn when in 2001, my wife and I decided to look for a second location close to home in the Perkiomen Valley, where we had been living since 1989. We found the stand-alone building that we wanted to lease, and we made a proposal to the property owner, and they accepted us as their first tenant in that new building at 325 W. Main Street in 2003. At that time, my wife decided to cut ties with the corporate world and join me on this crazy journey! As we focused on growing a brand new customer base in Trappe, our Lansdale store was struggling to hold its own. We finally decided after much discussion to sell this store and focus our efforts on Trappe, which we did in 2005. Finally, after 9 years at the original Trappe location, we signed a lease with our current landlord and moved to our Trappe Shopping Center location in 2012.
I am sure that other business owners have a similar story of both blessings and struggle to share. I am convinced that God brought me and my family through these challenging times, and set me in a place of value to the community I live in. It gives me joy to serve the clients and their furry family members as they visit. My rocky journey also gives me a true appreciation for other locals who operate businesses here. I have also seen our community grow both in prosperous development and in poverty and need. It is the local businesses community that often steps in to fill the needs of the less fortunate, not the outside companies that endeavor to gain solely the profits and none of the burdens.
I hope you will continue to see the value of shopping at our store. It is my hope also that the way you see us is as a valuable, caring part of the community. Local business is under attack by new threats, such as e-commerce, and outsourcing of jobs overseas. Our expertise is being replaced by internet rating sites and blogs. We need your help in continuing to support the businesses that have supported you for decades. A local establishment has both a connection to you and a mission to serve you. Help us to stay in that role.