Welcome to the department store for pets

Bow Wow Meow Press

June 23, 2008

Don't Call It a Pet Store

by Christian Menno (August 28, 2007 - Play Heat Magazine)

And don't call Buzz Miller a business man, he's a man with a mission - to bring people together with companion animals.

Buzzy's Bow WOW Meow. Say it five times fast. Kind of a tongue tornado, huh?

Now say it five times fast to your dog or cat.

They'll either give you the ubiquitously confused head-cock, or they'll grab their leash and your car keys, jump out the window, and wait with tails in full wag for you to take them to their beloved Bow WOW Meow.

This one of a kind pet supply retail outlet opened in April of 2007 in the heart of Narberth at 701 Montgomery Ave. It is the realization of one man's dream. He is Melvin "Buzz" Miller; a former lawyer/real estate developer who decided to take his adoration of companion animals (mainly cats and dogs) and turn it into something of substance.

Buzzy's Bow WOW Meow (buzzysbowwowmeow.com, 610-617-3300) has given Buzz something that all his other business endeavors could not: a sense of gratification.

"All my life I've been doing venture capital, real estate development and I've made a good amount of money," he says, "but I reached a point where if some big shot bought or sold a building and I made a $50,000 to $100,000 fee, there was no fulfillment. I'm not driven by money. I'm not gonna be Bill Gates, I'm not gonna be President of the United States and where I'm happiest is working with the animals."

As Buzz speaks about his store, it becomes clear that he is not out to promote or to advertise or to profit. He is out to spread the word. He is out to help animals find a good home with good people. Buzzy's works in conjunction with various animal rescue facilities and organizations and together they hold adoption days every weekend, right at the store. As of press time, Buzzy's has helped to adopt out over 70 dogs and cats.

"The store was really meant to fulfill a mission," says Miller, "to get the people in to buy quality products at reasonable prices, but more so to educate them about the benefits of not only rescuing a companion animal, but also what it does for the people and the animals both.

"The mission is to make money to run the store, and the excess to pour into animal rescue and education."

Now the store is in good financial shape, but in no way is Buzz reaping any benefits just yet.

"I can tell you that in the next year or two I will not draw one penny from the store," he says. "It might take a year or two to break even; it might take ten years."

In the meantime Buzzy's will host a whole bunch of pet education workshops and courses meant to enhance the companion animal experience. In the wake of the V-word indictments (V as in Vick, as in disgraced NFL quarterback Michael Vick - quite a dirty word in the world of animal lovers as of late), some canine and feline education seems more than appropriate.

"I call it a companion animal education center rather than a pet store," Miller says, "because we run about 50 programs a year that are free, with seminars and workshops teaching people about the advantages and disadvantages of different breeds; teaching them about behavior so animals won't be thrown into shelters as much."

Making all this possible is Buzz Miller and his devoted staff. Although Buzz had the business background and spent many years volunteering and providing pro bono work for several animal organizations, he relies on his managers and employees to keep the store up to snuff.

For Buzz, he finds that his business ventures have allowed him to understand how something like this can succeed - but they've also shown him how easily they can fail.

"The biggest problem with most animal care organizations was that all of them were underfunded, and because they're underfunded, they can't hire the talent that private industry does. They can't get good PR people who, if they work full time, usually make $30,000 and if they're good, even double that or more," he says.

"They've got to run a place with inadequate funding and inadequate facilities and not enough to pay a great vet. So they're trying to run these places with one or both hands tied behind their back. So I came up with the idea, hey, I'm using my business skills and my three degrees, and I could do more by opening up a retail store - but an unusual retail store combining capitalism with where I want to go to help the animals and also help people. The problem is, you've got people who love animals, but they don't have the business experience in the real world. Or you've got people with years of business experience but without the passion."

Buzz has both. And he's using them wisely.

At Buzzy's Bow WOW Meow, they've got all kinds of pet paintings and sculptures and furniture. They've got huge plasma TVs, used mostly for the seminars. Need some pet-related literature? Buzzy's has got you covered. How about some food? Yes, the store offers a tasty selection of treats that are suitable for both man and man's best friend.

And you're always welcome to bring your furry companion along. In the back of the store, Buzz has a nicely groomed yard for all the dogs, cats, and owners to get some sun and exercise.

"Dogs are allowed in here whenever we're open," he says. "So are cats. We've had a whole houseful of dogs before. That was fun. We've had a couple accidents. We've had no aggression whatsoever. All the dogs get treats."

In conclusion, Buzzy's puts the WOW in your bow and your meow.

And remember: Buzzy's is not just for pets. It's for people, too. Buzzy's is for people with pets and for people without pets. It's for people looking for pets and it's also for pets looking for people. Simply put, Buzzy's Bow WOW Meow is the perfect place for people and pets to profess their passion for one another.

Now repeat that paragraph five times fast.

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