A friend texted me a photo this afternoon of the Happiness is Pets in Naperville. Except, the brand spanking new store - the one that opened amid controversy this past summer, is no more. No, it hasn't closed - we couldn't be that lucky. But, the name has been changed ever so slightly from Happiness is Pets to Happiness is Puppies. The store hasn't changed hands or even changed business models.
What are they up to?
I called the store to ask what happened to Happiness is Pets and was told they are still the same store. But, they don't sell pets any longer, just puppies. Happiness is Puppies reflects what they do - at least in their own eyes.
Yes, they do sell puppies but does the name really tell the public what they need to know? Does Happiness is Puppies mean the puppy mill puppies are happy or is the act of selling puppies bringing happiness? I don't think so.
If you look beyond the neon sign and the pretty cages and the perky sales staff and wade through the reams of documentation that carefully hides where Happiness is
Pets Puppies get their puppies...you won't be finding happiness. At the other end of the road is not a pretty little farm with bouncy dogs, but puppy mills with mothers in small cage breeding themselves to death.
No, Happiness is
Pets Puppies really doesn't really reflect at all what the owners of the store sell.
There are really so many ways that Happiness is
Pets Puppies could go about this to be outstanding business people and tell the public what they really need to know. The picture at the top of the the blog was taken today at the brand spanking new store in Naperville.
The pretty new sign is up but social media, the website and calls into the store still get you Happiness is Pets. The young lady answering the phone said the change was "in progress" and would be launched soon. I guess they don't want to confuse anyone on the brand in the midst of puppy buying season.
If they really want to reflect what they do at Happiness is Pets or Happiness is Puppies or whatever they want to call themselves, they need to be a bit more descriptive in their name. How about, Puppy Mill Outlet or Cute Puppies Straight from Puppy Mills or Mutts for Sale at High End Prices. Puppies at a Premium Price...Mammas in the Mills Not Included. I could go on and on.
But, Happiness is Puppies...no Fricken way.
Happiness is Pets is the same chain three years ago that sold puppies with distemper to unsuspecting consumers at Christmas. All but one of those puppies - Dakota - died. As consumers lined up for a lawsuit focusing on Happiness is Pets, documentation led them to puppy mills in the Midwest...not the great breeders that sales people tout in the store.
New name, new image
Or, is it a case of so much bad publicity around the name that Happiness is Pets wants to change their name to distance themselves from the lawsuit, consumer complaints, protesting anti-puppy mill folks, etc. The slight change isn't enough to help them out any way on that front.
In fact, as a marketer and PR person with many years of media experience under my belt, I would suggest the best way to fix what is wrong with the brand or company is to cease being Happiness is anything. And by cease, I mean change the business model. Toss out the high revenue generating puppy sales and focus on selling consumers pet products.
The price of not selling pets
According to the American Pet Products Association, last year consumers in America spent over $55 Billion dollars on their pets. This year the number is projected to be $58.5 billion...that is billion with a B. Of that figure last year, the sale of live animals accounted for just $2.23 billion of that number. So, most folks are making a fortune on pet products and services without ever making a deal with the puppy millers to churn a profit.
They could go humane and sell products and focus on working with rescue groups. They could offer services like grooming, doggy day care and dog training. They could actually develop a business plan like the nearly 70 percent of the rest of the pet stores and boutiques in America that don't sell pets.
But, they won't. It takes too much work. You have to keep tinkering with products and what works and take a chance on losing cash until you hit the right business model. And, who would want to take a chance that something like that would work.
But, it does work. In fact, it works in Naperville not too far way at a great local pet store called Dog Patch Pet and Feed. Greg Gordon went humane three years ago and is doing a great business. But, his business isn't about making money off dogs and puppies, it's about building a business on long term customers who may rescue with you then come back for products for the life of their pet. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Happiness is Whatever
So, for now, the puppy mill outlet continues to be open under whichever name they choose to use - Happiness is Pets or Happiness is Puppies. Discussion on ending the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores in Naperville is on hold while a Cook County lawsuit on the issue remains live and until after the communities municipal elections in the spring And, the mothers in the mills will keep breeding away until consumers finally get what they are buying and move to other sources to get their dogs and cats.
Read more on the topic:
- Dog Patch Pet and Feed: Rescue Program Continues to Grow
- Happiness is Pets lawsuit back in action
- Naperville: Puppy Mill Outlet capital or dog-friendly city
- For now, the sale of puppy mill dogs to continue in Naperville
- Designer dogs: Would you purchase a $1,500 mutt?
Subscribe to my feed by typing your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.