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Jessica Ballou, Published April 29 2012

It's My Job: PetSmart store director loves to interact with customers

WEST FARGO – Jared Eide’s first job out of high school was at a local pet store, and he’s been in love with that career ever since.

He took a brief hiatus from the pet industry after college and worked a few odd jobs, but he missed the retail atmosphere and interaction with customers.

Eide worked at a few different pet stores before landing a job as operations manager at PetSmart here when it opened seven years ago, and now he’s the store director.

Q: How would you describe your job?

Busy. It’s a unique environment. We’re a bunch of different stores in one.

We’re a grocery store in one aspect. We have dog food, cat food … the consumables. People come in with specific questions about their pets’ dietary needs, and we help them with that.

We also carry animals, which is a whole different dimension. On a daily basis, we are ensuring the well-being of everything in our store. We’re also a services-oriented business. We have stylists who literally groom animals 40 hours a week.

We also have pet trainers here on a daily basis.

My job is to juggle all those balls.

Do you get a lot of repeat customers, or is it more new customers?

A lot of both. Fargo is a thriving community and a fast-growing city, so new people come in all the time.

We also have a lot of repeat customers who have come here for years. That’s one of the really enjoyable parts of the job.

I remember back 15 years when I first started in a pet store, when some people bought their first fish tank, and now they’re buying a fish tank for their children.

What do you love most about your job?

Beyond just the everyday interactions with people … if somebody really loves their dog or cat … they’re probably a very good person. That’s a really great part of the job.

From a managerial standpoint, it’s the developing aspect. A lot of my workplace are college kids. It’s fun watching them as a freshman in college to watching them grow as a person.

Being able to impart skill sets, like critical thinking, before they leave is something I’m passionate about.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Learning how to be proactive rather than reactive in situations.

Being able to step back and really critically analyze on a daily basis.

Retail is a unique monster. It’s not a 9-to-5 job, and it never will be.

You’d be crazy to work in a pet store if you didn’t love pets, and that’s what makes those 5 a.m. or 12 a.m. shifts worth it.

You could walk up to anyone in this store – an employee or customer – and you’re going to see a smile on their face when they talk about their pet.

People really treat pets as a part of their family. It’s not just a dog; it’s not just a cat – it’s a family member. It’s fun to see.

I like to help people build that relationship with their pet.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 241-5509