MILLEDGEVILLE — Since April, Rainforest & Reef has offered live freshwater and saltwater fish, aquarium service, food supplies, snakes and lizards to name several of the small business pet store’s products.
“The statement that I get when people walk into the store is ‘I’m so glad we have a real pet store’,” store owner Amy McDade said. “I’m focused on the live pets for the community and the education of keeping them.”
McDade’s 22 years of pet trade experience showed her the area needed a place to get fish, snake food or other products. She understood and heard locals yearn for the service.
“I decided there was enough business in Milledgeville and the surrounding areas that could support a live animal store,” she said.
Customer visits on the North Columbia Street main drag location have been steady. McDade said people travel from Dublin, Gray and Eatonton because there are no other live pet providers and experts closer than Macon.
Rainforest & Reef stocks no cats or dogs but does offer grooming services twice a week by appointment or walk-in.
McDade sells premium dog food made by Nutri Source. This grain-free brand costs more, but dogs eat less due to the high nutrient content.
“You can’t find it anywhere else. It’s only sold through independent pet stores, but they stand behind their product,” McDade said.
According to the Rainforest & Reef owner, people’s saltwater fish interest is up. She can ease the transition for customers.
McDade can special order tanks or most any fish requested. She also offers delivery, setup and maintenance.
The store closes Mondays to clean area tanks.
“If they want to do it and I can offer the maintenance, they are not as afraid of saltwater,” McDade said. “It’s exciting to me when people show interest in it.”
Georgia College students with a Bobcat Card receive 10 percent off freshwater fish.
Rainforest & Reef keeps everything customers require to go home with a fish or other live purchase. McDade will order anything needed if folks prepay.
The best part for the new store owner is connecting with customers. She gives information freely in hopes people will return.
“I try to teach people that you can’t just put fish in a bowl of water and things will be OK,” McDade said. “I don’t want people to get discouraged doing their hobby. If I do that, I’ve got a long-term customer.”
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