Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pets but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mitch Rezman, Vice President & General Manager of Windy City Parrot, located in Lowell, IN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We sell pet supplies specifically for captive birds. This defines a niche market as only about 3.5% of American homes are occupied by Feathered Kids. Our customers are anyone who cares for a pet bird.
Tell us about yourself
1983 was the founding year of Windy City Parrot. My wife, Catherine Tobsing, was achieving all of her revenue from bird shows (just like baseball cad shows but with birds). She launched, solely on her own, WindyCityParrot.com on New Years' Eve 2001. We met online months later. I've been a PC user since 1981 (I turned 70 this year). In four years, I took WindyParrot.com from just under $200,000 to just under $1.000,000. Along the way, our 10,000 SF retail store burned to the ground - it took over 3 years to finalize our six-figure claim with State Farm. Our commercial landlords did what they could to shut us down - sewer backups - treats - trotting garbage on loading docks.
In 2019 we moved our residence and business to Lowell, Indiana, rural - pop 10,000. We're in a 4000 SF vintage residence with a full basement - our rent and utilities dropped 70% and allowed us to stop borrowing money.
At the front end of 2022, WindyCityparrot.com, in spite of deploying a dedicated server and some serious speed added to the website, we were experiencing a slowdown going up against amazon Chewy and the like. We had 14 and 18-year-old eBay stores that we decided to scale. We have an eBay gun parts store (accidentally successful) and a general merchandise store too. We have a presence on Mercari, Poshmark, and Kidizen. We sold on several other social sites, but this combination works for us and has closed the gap in expenses.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We survived a flood, a fire, a rat infestation, 2 and maybe 3 recessions - we are still in business.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Finding operating cash daily for inventory.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Expect everything to take 3 - 5 times longer to accomplish anything you plan and execute.
- Respect murphy's "Everything that can go wrong will."
- Believe MitchR's corollary to Murphy's law, "Mr. Murphy was highly optimistic."
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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