Written by Kylie Ross Sibert

Pawsnickety Pets Logo

Name of Business: Pawsnickety Pets
Owner (s):  Kaycee McCoy, Shizuka Benton
Website Address: www.pawsnicketypets.com
Phone Number: 757-622-2831
Email address: Woof@pawsnicketypets.com
Street address: 957A W 21st St, Norfolk, VA 23517

Photo of Pawsnickety Pets owners on grand opening day
Pawsnickety Pets products photo

What happens when two best friends, one a dog mom, and one a cat mom, decide they want to spend more time together? They open a pet supply store called Pawsnickety Pets!

Owners, Kaycee McCoy and Shizuka Benton, opened Pawsnickety Pets in December 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Located in Historic Ghent, Pawsnickey Pets is a one-stop shop for all-natural food and holistic supplements for canines and feline furbabies.

In addition to being co-owners of Pawsnickety Pets, Kaycee owns a digital marketing agency and Shizuka is an operation management consultant. Both entrepreneurs had started their own separate businesses, but they had never owned a retail store before.

Kaycee came across this ownership opportunity when the previous owner was looking for someone to buy her pet shop business. “We’ve always talked about being in a business together, so we jumped on the opportunity,” Kaycee commented.

“We both have experiences in service industry, but never retail,” she continued. “The process of leasing the space was something completely new to us and we were unfamiliar with the process, the language, everything. We reached out to our commercial realtor friend Nicole Campbell, who coached us about the process, how to read the lease, and what to look for. Understanding the process and expectations made a difference when negotiating the lease.”

“Every product we carry is human-grade, all-natural, and non-GMO. We’re also big fans of the one-ingredient products and carry many varieties of them. Part of our philosophy is educating pet-owners about the ingredients that are in their pet’s food and where they come from. It’s important for us to be cognitive about what we put in their bodies, just like we are with what we put in our bodies. We’re committed to educating ourselves so we can continue to educate our customers about pet nutrition.”

This customer education, along with their willingness to listen and learn, has obviously helped them succeed in the early stages of their business. Their first month after opening was very successful, with help from news coverage from WTKR Channel 3 and support from groups Retail Alliance, Ghent Business Association, and BizConnect.

There have been other challenges they have faced in addition to learning about leasing. They had no knowledge of being retailers, especially a pet supply store. “We both own pets, but never been on a retailer’s side of the business, so we’re still trying to figure out which items sells the best, what brands are people looking for, etc. We have been asking questions to every customer that comes in. We explain that we’re new and learning, and we’d love to hear what they feed their pets and what brand they’d like to see us carry.

Pawsnickety Pets Photo new product
Pawsnickety Pets LOVE dog paw photo

“One of the best parts of owning my own business is being able to curate fun collections, working with cool artists and other small businesses, and having so much fun shooting with my sister and friends. My entire world is my little shop now, it’s like a little baby that needs catering to constantly, but it is so rewarding at the end of the day.

“For a long time, we couldn’t really find a boutique within our style that is both high quality and still affordable. I’ve always been drawn to the relaxed fit and carefree lifestyle and I wanted a way to encapsulate the peacefulness that the beach brings me. Through colors, materials, and clothing styles, I created a brand that hopefully brings it closer to my customers.”

Their long-term goal is to become a household name in the Hampton Roads region for natural food, treats and supplements for cats and dogs. “We want to be the go-to resource when it comes to holistic pet nutrition.”

They have connected with consumers through Next Door, answering any pet questions the community may have. They’ve also joined several pet groups on social media and have been communicating and educating the community. “We’re also excited about building relationships with other small businesses in the area to help support and raise money for pet-related non-profits,” Kaycee said.

The only thing they wished they’d known before they opened was to be realistic about the timeline and timeframe. “We were overly enthusiastic about the new venture that we tried to plan everything in a short amount of time. But we both learned to manage our time better, not just to be available for all of our companies, but to grow and be successful across all aspects,” Kaycee said.

Advice they would give to someone interesting in starting their own business? “Do what you love! Whether we’re at the store chatting up with customers, discussing the next store event, or reviewing the purchasing plan, we never feel like we are ‘working'”

Pawsnickety Pets products standalone shelf photo