DARIEN, Conn. – Darien’s Jennifer Scott has developed close relationships with her customers in her 21 years selling pet food and supplies, the last 10 of which have been at her Pawprint Market on Boston Post Road.
Sometimes, Scott has found, those tight bonds produce unintended consequences. A few months ago, a customer informed Scott of the passing of her dog. Scott knew the pet as a puppy all the way through its life span. The resulting sadness surprised the store owner.
“Things like that are something that I never counted on,’’ Scott said. “I started out in the business in 1992, and people have traveled with me from store to store. I’ve gone with customers when it was time to put their own dogs down. The people in town, and their pets, have become a family for me.”
Even pets have a close connection with Scott. She remembered a chocolate Lab she had met in the store and at a local training facility. Though she did not see the dog frequently, it remembered Scott each time it visited the store. “You can meet a puppy when it’s a baby and now it’s four years later and you’ll see the light bulb go off in the dog,’’ Scott said. “It’s like the dog is saying ‘I remember you! You’re the lady with the treats.’’’
Pet owners in Darien and beyond come to Pawprint to purchase food and supplies. Scott said her customers believe they get so much more.
“Our passion is dogs and cats, and helping people create a lifetime bond,’’ said Scott, whose staff includes Cindy Blish and Vicki Hoch. “We’ll help with nutrition, getting them to right places for training and care, and just working together the whole time. We all network, even from one town to the next. We’re all about raising awareness and educating. We talk to our customers. There are big box stores where you can buy food, but they don’t talk to their customers.”
Scott said Pawprint’s customers reflected their loyalty during the power-sapping storms over the past few years.
"I slept here on an air bed, and I had to stay at the store all the time,’’ Scott said. “They’d stop in and ask ‘Do you have dinner plans? Is there anything you need?’ They opened their arms to me. They’re the best people in the whole world. I’m grateful for every single one of them. They’re what community is all about.”
Some incoming big box stores promise lower prices for pet food, but Scott said her prices match competitors. The store offers delivery and special orders. The personal service, experience and relationships are something that pet owners won’t find at any other store.
“Between myself and the gals that work with me, we have about 35 years’ worth of experience,’’ Scott said. “In addition to our vast knowledge of canine and feline nutrition, we can also offer advice on training, grooming and behavioral and health issues. As our motto says, ‘You have question, we have answers. There is a difference.’’’
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