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“…before we take on any product we review it, make sure it is 100% safe and that it truly adds to the health or well being of the animal to which it is intended.”

You may not have heard of our interviewee Steven Spitz, but maybe you have heard of his alter-ego Vegan Petman. Steven Spitz CEO of Big Apple Pet Supply trade marked the name Vegan Petman and in less than 10 weeks his Twitter account achieved over 2,500 pet followers and in under 8 weeks his Facebook page had more than 1,700 pet fans. His corporate Facebook page stands at over 11,000 pet fans and continues to grow at a rapid pace. Steven’s YouTube channel and pet related videos have been watched more than 800,000 times with more than 1,000,000 views expected by the end of October 2011.

Big Apple Pet Supply began in New York City in 1994. After completing extensive amounts of research on how to care for pets properly, Big Apple Pet Supply now shares with its 100,000 plus customer base an extensive selection of highly researched pet products along with expert advice.

Small Business Interview

MO:
Your decision to trade mark the name Vegan Petman appears to be a very wise decision. Tell us about why this move made sense for you and Big Apple Pet Supply?

Steven:
I expect to invest a substantial amount of time and money into building the Vegan Petman persona. In fact, a customized website is currently being designed for VeganPetman.com which will connect all my social media channels, blogs, media appearances, charitable causes and more. In order to protect the name a trademark under several categories has been filed and is pending final approval.

MO:
People spend months, even a year or so trying to gain the traction you have gained with Vegan Petman on social media in a few short weeks. What do you attribute this great success to?

Steven:
Yes, I have been told that the number of follows and likes to my new Vegan Petman Facebook & Twitter accounts is rarely obtained so quickly. However, I attribute this to several concepts in my “marketing plan”;

  1. Cause Marketing: I offer $1 per follow & like to be added to my $11,000 Animal Shelter Product Fund which directly assists animals in need. The concept is they follow and get great information about achieving a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their pets but also that they contributed to a cause without having to spend anything.
  2. Create Great Content: I publish articles on my Facebook Page regularly which range from unique how to content to warnings on pet items that could be hazardous, etc. In addition, I provide up-to-date news on all things relating to animals and their health plus a touch of timely comedic posts via Twitter and Facebook
  3. Constant Interaction: I do not just post, I interact on almost every single mention on Twitter and post on Facebook. I regularly engage my followers and fans… it’s a real time commitment but it is also the only way to build real relationships in the land of social media. Ultimately, this goes a long way towards creating a fan base that cares what you have to say and vice-versa.

MO:
What makes Big Apple Pet Supply different than other pet stores?

Steven:
That’s a great question because we pride ourselves on the answer. Big Apple Pet Supply is a research based company. What I mean by this is simple, before we take on any product we review it, make sure it is 100% safe and that it truly adds to the health or well being of the animal to which it is intended. We’ll never carry items like rawhide or spa products with parabens or other potentially harmful additives. In addition, we seek to educate our customers through personalized consultation services as well as product videos showing correct usage of the items we sell.

MO:
You have the brick and mortar store in NY as well as an e-commerce site selling pet supplies. How do you manage both?

Steven:
Actually, this is a common misnomer, we had thought about opening a brick and mortar store in NYC but ultimately we believe this could interrupt all the plans we have for our e-commerce business which ships all across the world. We have found that most companies that offer both channels usually have an e-commerce business that doesn’t quite live up to what we would consider high standards. I do believe it would be very challenging to do both but you never know when we just might take the plunge.

MO:
What are some great pet products we can look forward to seeing from you soon?

Steven:
We are quite excited about a new line of pet products that we will be manufacturing under a new name. The line will focus 100% on Animal & Planet friendly products in keeping with my Vegan Petman philosophy. I’m sworn to secrecy on this project but we are going to introduce some revolutionary concepts in marketing into the pet industry when the product line launches.

MO:
Tell us about some of the work you do to help animal shelters.

Steven:
We originally created a 501 C 3 foundation, the Big Apple Animal Foundation back in 2008 to help create education programs to help children connect to animals. Studies show that children who grow up with animals are more empathic and become protectors of our planet. However, over the last several years animal shelters and rescues have reached a critical level with the number of animals in their care. We switched all our funding to directly assisting shelters and rescues. We should hit very close to the $20,000 mark this year for cash and product shelter funding. Ultimately, I think it is the responsibility of every successful business owner to give back to the community they serve.

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