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Pets are often considered members of our families, even as our best friends. We rely on them in times of crisis to overcome stress and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. As families shelter in place, Americans are adopting pets at record levels, leaving many animal shelters empty.
The adoption boom is not only transforming the lives of pets and pet lovers everywhere, but also the intensively competitive pet industry. While the big dogs dominate the e-commerce and box retail markets, small retailers like Zachary Jensen, owner of Earthwise Pet Nutrition Center and Wellness Spa in Newton, are carving out a niche market on Main Street. Pets are a lifelong commitment and Earthwise Pet strives to provide the best lifestyle for local pets.
Jensen counts on the business’ exceptional customer service and knowledgeable staff to set it apart from the large corporate brands. The business offers everything from natural pet food, accessories, and supplies to grooming, dog walking, and self-washing. With a certified pet nutritionist on staff, the five employees have a diverse skill set in grooming, training, and best nutrition practices.
The start-up retailer opened its doors last December with the help of an SBA-guaranteed loan. The business got off on the right foot until the pandemic hit in March, forcing business closures and sheltering in space practices across Iowa. As sales decreased significantly, Earthwise Pet adapted to the new business environment by emphasizing its online retail presence and reducing store hours. It now offers curbside pick-up and no-contact delivery options to meet its pet parents’ needs.
Thanks to an SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Loan (PPP) through US Bank, Earthwise Pet returned to normal store hours and kept its staff employed. The company also improved its cash flow during the economic downturn with SBA making six months of payments on its existing SBA loan under the federal agency’s Cares Act Debt Relief Program.
As the nation begins to re-open, Earthwise Pets is well-positioned to survive and thrive during the recovery period. With a very supportive state and local small business community and many more furry friends in the marketplace, this specialty retailer is making its presence known among cat and dog-loving Iowans.
This article was shared with the City of Newton - Community Development Department by the U.S. Small Business Administration.