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Excerpt from article in leading trade magazine, written by David Lass.

 When a retail store has been in business since 1974 you know that they must be doing something right, and Laconia Pet Center is a just such a store. Located at 1343 Union Ave in Laconia, Laconia Pet Center has become a landmark in the Lakes region of central New Hampshire; the store has been in the Varnum family since 1974, and at the same location for all but 6 of those years. Bethany Varnum Stockman and her brother Brett Varnum are the second generation to own and operate Laconia Pet Center. “We are a full line pet store,” says Bethany, “and we carry a complete line of everything that is needed to take care of any kind of pet.” “Laconia Pet Center is especially known for the health and selection of livestock that we offer,” adds Brett. “We are especially proud of our fish room, where we carry a complete line of tropical fish, both fresh and salt water. We also have a large selection of birds and small animals. We do not carry dogs or cats, although we have everything that is needed for them in the way of foods, supplements and toys.”

 

Ted and Jennifer Varnum started out in the pet business when they bought a very small retail store called King’s Exotic Fish in Malden, MA in 1969. Within a few short years the Varnums decided that they really liked the retail pet business, but that they didn’t want to live and raise their family in the big city. So they moved to the beautiful Lakes region of central New Hampshire in 1974, the year that Bethany was born, and they started a 400 square foot store in downtown Laconia. The following year Brett was born, and the kids and the store grew up together. “One of my earliest memories “says Bethany, “is of playing with Brett with the bunnies that were on display in the front window of the store.”

 

Ted soon realized that the growing business needed more space, so in 1980 he purchased land and built a new store at the present location. “The store is 4,000 square feet,” says Brett, “and at the time Dad said he didn’t know how he would fill all that space. Now we wish we had twice as much room.” Bethany and Brett literally grew up with the store. “Both Brett and I worked in the store from the time we were eight years old,” says Bethany.” We started by cleaning fish tanks and the birds and small animals, and by the time we were in high school we were working Friday nights, weekends and vacations.” Brett adds that, “The pet business is 24/7 and constant work, but Bethany and I really love it, and we can’t imagine doing anything else.”

 

When it started getting close to their retirements, Ted and Jennifer began handing the reins of the business over to the kids, and Bethany and Brett slowly took over the complete operation of Laconia Pet Center, while their parents spent more of their time in warmer climates. In January of 2006 the second generation bought the business, and Bethany and Brett continue the tradition of their parents in providing excellent animals and products. “Being an independent pet store today can be very challenging,” says Bethany, “and we are members of NexPet, a large national organization of independent pet stores.” Laconia Pet Center believes that they can compete very favorably with the big box stores and discount marketers, as their attention to detail, everyday involvement with the business, and the expertise and concern of the entire staff assure that every customer gets exactly what they and their pets need. Pretty soon there probably will be a third generation of the Varnum family hanging out at the store, and learning the pet business from the ground up.

 

We appreciate your business and value your patronage, and we hope that you will enjoy with us the wonderful world of pets.

 

Bethany Varnum Stockman

 

Brett Varnum

 
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