Fenton, MI — November 14, 2019
We have some exciting news for pet lovers, another new business in town is catering to your animals. Magoo’s Pet Outlet has opened in Fenton, the new 8,000 sq. ft store is located at 17275 Silver Parkway, not far from T.J. Maxx and Five Below. The west side of town is turning into a prime shopping district.
Opening day at Magoo’s Pet Outlet set a sales record for the company’s grand openings, the Fenton location is the 9th store in the local chain. “Our store doubled the average opening day gross for Magoo’s” said Neko Versola. Neko is the co-owner of the Fenton Magoo’s Pet Outlet, along with his dad, Robert Versola.
Neko went on to say; “Fenton was in need of a Magoo’s Pet Outlet because it’s growing tremendously. If you just look at the downtown riverfront project, you’ll see what that’s done for Fenton. If you look at the buildout just on Silver Parkway, we just got a T.J. Maxx. We’ve got the Five Below. So, it’s growing rapidly. The city of Fenton has done a great job as far as building the community. I think given the fact it’s growing so quickly Fenton has really become a destination for people to live as well as just go shopping. So, we have a lot of people that come from other cities, whether it be Holly or Howell.”
Rescue a Dog or Cat
“We don’t sell dogs or cats. We have a lot of people who come in and ask us why we don’t. We chose to partner with adoption agencies or rescues for cats and dogs. There are a lot of cats and dogs that need homes,” Neko Versola said.
Referring to an August 30, 2016, Forbes article (“Why are so many millennials opting for pets, not parenthood”). The report states millennials are adopting more pets: 35 percent as compared with 32 percent of baby boomers, according to research firm GfK. Fifty-seven percent of millennial households own a dog versus 51 percent of all U.S. households.
“The pet industry has grown so much because of them. More and more households have pets in them versus children, and with the millennials generation being bigger than the boomers, those are like their kids right now,” Neko Versola said. “I just figured we could bring bargains and value items to the community so we could help them save money, while at the same time giving them the same great items that they have come to expect,” Neko Versola said.
Both Neko and Robert Versola have been working in the retail industry for years; Neko Versola for 23 years and Robert Versola for over 4 decades. “It’s what we’ve done our whole careers,” Neko Versola said.Robert Versola is 66 and looking forward to retirement from retail soon. “We figured we would open up a Magoo’s and that way the later years of his career he could have fun and work for himself,” his son said.
The outlet format of Magoo’s business model is designed to deliver quality products at a discount price. “These items are similar to those a lot of other types of outlets sell, but they may be here today, but might not be here tomorrow. They are purchased through the manufacturer often slightly imperfect or overstocks. We’re able to buy them in large quantities and sort them at the warehouse and then just transfer that value price and treasure hunt items back to the consumers.”
Neko Versola realizes people will always buy dog food and other core items. “But, (here) you’re going to come in and spend a day with your furry friends to see what kind of treasure hunt exciting items that you might find today that won’t be here tomorrow. So, you can get those Greenies for 19 cents and cans of Bella wet dog food for 13 cents-when typically you’d spend 50 times that.”
All 9 Magoo’s Pet Outlets are located in Michigan. The first was opened in 1986. The founder of the Magoo’s Pet Outlet is Matt McCord. “We’re still the local, family-owned store. We care about what your needs are and we focus on you, your furry friends, your pets, getting you the right items and the right foods. We focus on the longevity of your pet and making sure they’re healthy.”
All the staff at the Fenton Magoo’s go through a certification program and they are specialists towards a specific segment: reptiles, dogs, cats, birds or fish. Magoo’s stores all have a very similar business model. “I live in Fenton. My kids go to school here. We are a family-owned local business. It makes a difference because I know most people who come to shop. I go to church with them. I’ve gone to boosters with them. My son plays for the Linden Eagles. So, I know quite a few people here. For this particular community, I think they see a big box corporate looking store, but it’s not. It’s more down-home, locally owned to the max.”
Neko Versola said they have extremely high standards in regards to cleanliness at the Fenton Magoo’s and are often complimented on how clean the store is. “We’re always dusting, cleaning and wiping things down. We want to have a clean, exciting environment. We have a lot of pets come through the door. So there is going to be a lot of furry friends’ hair. We have a routine where every two or three hours we’ll wipe down everything, sweep, wipe down the counters, and mop to keep it clean and keep it from smelling like a pet store.”
The Fenton location is one of the larger Magoo’s stores. Versola said people love the selection, and if people are looking for something else, they make sure to get it.
The dog food sold at the Fenton Magoo’s is all factory direct and is often brand name.
“We have all the brands you expect to see at a pet supply store, but we have them at much better prices.”
Retail Location vs Online Purchases
Versola said, typically when you go into a pet supply stores there are only a few workers there to answer customer questions. To Versola, if a person didn’t want excellent customer service they could go online. In his opinion, a lot of brick and mortar stores lack service. For that reason, he said they are shrinking in favor of e-commerce.
“We have four to six people working a day. That’s unusual for a smaller store. So, we run a little higher of a payroll percent to sales. That customer service availability helps pet owners that have questions. It’s kind of like having a nutritionist for your animals. Those associates make sure they are giving the right answers to questions.”
Colleen Snell recently shopped at the Fenton Magoo’s for the first time. “I like it. It’s nice having it. Normally, I have to go to Flint. I think there is a need for some competition in this area because we only had one pet store,” Snell said. She indicated she will continue to go the Fenton Magoo’s to buy toys for her dogs.
Doug Smith another first-time shopper was looking around to get familiar with the store.
“It has a very nice feel. The lighting and the way they ground the floor makes you feel like you’re in a more upscale store than a pet supply store,” Smith said.
Anna Simpson visits Magoo’s in Fenton at least once a week. “I believe the store provides a source of affordable pet care for customers aside from the larger chains. The staff is extremely helpful, and the prices are extremely reasonable.,” Simpson said.
The Fenton Magoo’s has partnered with Adopt-A-Pet for the grand opening, and recently a Furry Cat Adoption with Pursuit of Happiness took place there. Two dogs were adopted at the grand opening and four cats were adopted at the last adoption event.
“A lot of people bring their pets out for a day like people would take their kids to play at the park. This is an experience in which they enjoy bringing them in. We let the dogs, cats or whatever animals they have as long as they’re on a leash pick out whatever toy they want. We really wanted to have an open floor plan where the dogs would wander around,” Neko Versola said.
Magoo’s offers adoptions at all locations, as well as their frequent buyer program in which customers who buy 12 cans or bags of selected pet food and will get the 13th can or bag free, as well as many other in-store specials. There is also a loyalty program, in which customers can earn points towards in-store discounts.
All Magoo’s stores offer dog training and sometimes it can be quite specialized! The Fenton Magoo’s has partnered with Einstein Dog Training in Fenton for dog parades held at the store which help dogs with resisting impulses. On Dec. 20, a puppy class will be offered. Other events are promoted on social media.
“A lot of our end caps have treats. They are at those levels so dogs can take a look at it and pick what they want in the dog parades. It has to be a personable, different and fun. If it wasn’t going to be special, you could go online.”