At times, it may seem that national big box stories have it easier than small local businesses. The national stores get national branding, promotion, recognition, and nation-wide consumer loyalty. But there's something to be said for small local businesses that can make huge impact.
"Given that we are an independent pet store, we can make decisions locally," said Kirbay Preuss, manager of Preuss Pets. "This really helps in supporting our goals of providing really healthy animals."
Preuss Pets even has a veterinarian on staff. As a result, they can keep a close watch on all of their animals and make sure they are providing the best care.
"We also support local individuals who breed some of our animals. As opposed to shipping them in from a farm, we actually have local people who breed our animals for us," said Preuss.
If you've visited Preuss Pets, you already know they aren't your average pet store. From customer service to unique aesthetics to numerous charity projects, Preuss Pets wants you to feel inspired during your visit.
One of the first things you'll notice at Preuss Pets is the 3,000 gallon river that flows through the store – attracting kids and their parents.
"For a suggested dollar donation, families can come in and feed the fish in the river," said Preuss. "We raise anywhere from $400 to $800 a month."
The river fundraiser allows Preuss Pets to give back to the community. In the past, the store has donated $2,000 to the Animal Cruelty Investigation Fund, $800 to the Firecracker Foundation as well as various other amounts to Ingham County Animal Control, Capital Area Humane Society and more.
"We try to do animal-oriented charities, but we also try to give back to other charities in need in our local community," she said.
Preuss Pets also focuses on spreading education to classrooms, groups, and customers. The store is currently a resource for teachers who need help with their Sturgeon in the Classroom projects.
"The DNR reached out to us [to help]. They also wanted to feature a lake sturgeon in our store, so the general public could view it," said Preuss. "They wanted us to help educate the public about what an endangered species is and what we can do to help conserve it."
Project Piaba is another project Preuss Pets supports with a tank in their store.
"We will be the first retail store to have a Project Piaba display tank set up, so that people can see the fish and we can help educate them on how supporting local fisherman actually has a positive effect on the Amazon rainforest," she said.
Although special projects, supporting the community, and providing healthy animals are all positive impacts Preuss Pets has made in Mid-Michigan, these impacts aren't possible without the passion of its owners.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my father. He's always had a passion for making sure that, in this industry, we're doing things very purposeful and we're really making a difference, a positive impact on the community," Preuss said.
For more information on Preuss Pets, its education programs and more visit, preusspets.com.