Meet Debbie and Chris Delorme: Pets are family
Have you ever dreamed about building a new career doing exactly what you want? Debbie and Chris Delorme, like many of us, held a vision of what a second career would look like. However, they were happy with their lives and did not give the idea much attention until the unexpected happened.
One day, the firm where they were both employed was reorganized and the new structure did not include either of them. A few days before a planned vacation, the news was not very timely. Or, was it?
With pre-purchased tickets to Jamaica in their hands, they decided to keep their plans and take a short break before exploring their next move. As it often happens, travelers befriend other travelers, share experiences, and create a bond. It was no different for Debbie and her husband. Their new friends shared their love of animals. And, they also happened to be pet store owners! Debbie and Chris immediately recognized the opportunity to start building a second career based on their passions. Their vacation transformed into a learning experience and they returned to Winnipeg with a plan.
A New Beginning
The next several months after their return were filled with research. Starting from scratch, in a new industry, Debbie and Chris had a lot to learn from business practices to the numerous products that are available on the market. “After four months of researching the store and the products, we liked what we saw and decided to go for it, “ Debbie said. “We opened the first Global Pet Foods in Manitoba almost four years ago.”
Getting the Word Out
Debbie and Chris still had their work cut out for them promoting a store name that people were not yet familiar with in Winnipeg. The best way they found to do that was to attend events. Luckily, they had the chance to attend dog park events and have tables at trade shows attended by pet owners. Today, they continue to attend events such as The Winnipeg Pet Show, a large consumer show in western Canada. Meeting and interacting directly with pet owners at the show continues to be important. “For us, attending the show is exposure for the store. It’s also a great place to talk to pet owners about the quality products that we have and the choices that they have. We bring as many samples as possible to give to people to try.”
The amount of community involvement, including animal rescue, came as an unexpected, yet pleasant, surprise. As customers became familiar with the store, so Debbie and Chris became familiar with their clients and their pets. “A pet store is more than stocking shelves and selling products. You become part of the community and build a great network of contacts.” Customers are not just looking for product; sometimes, they also come in looking for help finding professionals such as groomers and pet sitters and their growing network of contacts can help bring everyone together.
Involvement with animal rescue is something that came as quite an unexpected surprise. While we know animal rescue happens, Debbie informed me that this world is much bigger than we think. “It’s a whole world that we learned about through our store contacts.” Store adoption events is only one of the ways in which they support local rescue groups. Foster pet parents visit the store with their pets to create exposure for the animals and meet potential forever homes in a neutral setting. Besides adoption events, other fund-raising events also benefit from their involvement. “We’ve donated baskets to specific pet-related organisations for raffles to help raise funds. We also do nail trims at the store for $10 and use that money to purchase products for rescues in foster care to help the family care for them until they are adopted.”
A Passion for Pets
Opening up a store, even a franchise, requires a lot of time and energy as Debbie pointed out. They received support from their family and others who have gone through the process before them. In the beginning, only Debbie, Chris, their three grown daughters, and a close friend worked in the store. Now, nearly four years later, they can begin to enjoy the fruits of their labours and even hired staff to assist them. The passion and love that Debbie and Chris have for companion pets and share with their customers every day comes through clearly as Debbie speaks about her work at the store: “Pets are family – we love them like they are children, our little four-pawed, furry kids. Choosing the right food, quality food, for their situation is key to the health and longevity of that pet. We are happy that we can help our customers give their pets a long and healthy life.”