Scott Sanfilippo and his partner, Joe Palko, launch one of the first eCommerce sites – TheFerretStore.com. Through a black and white catalog printed on a dot matrix printer and duplicated at the local OfficeMax, the duo started a grass roots marketing effort to get sales. The “operations” of this early dot-com startup were “headquartered” in a town house the two shared in Dallas, PA.
Sales for the year ending December 2004 were a little over $10,000 and customer count was under 1,000.
TheFerretStore.com is named one of the “700 Internet’s Best Stores” according to “Digital’s Guide to eShopping” published in the December 2000 issue of TIME Digital Magazine.
TheFerretStore.com is spotlighted in the Bonus Holiday Issue of Yahoo! Internet Life magazine. The issue features websites that surfers can access to do some online holiday shopping for everyone on their list, including “your favorite ferret.” The only other pet dot-com companies mentioned in the article were Petsmart.com and the now defunct Petopia.com.
Fiscal year 2000 saw TheFerretStore.com’s sales increase 70% over 1999. In a statement to the local press, Scott Sanfilippo notes, “In 2000 we saw a lot of our competition disappear and we’re ready to capture that portion of the business.” Joe Palko was also quoted as saying, “We’ve been fortunate enough not only to survive the dot-com shakeout, but increase our revenue. A survey conducted by webmergers.com estimated that at least 210 Interent companies closed down during 2000, taking with them nearly 1.5 billion in investment money. TheFerretStore.com has succeeded in becoming a profitable dot-com with over $2 million in annual sales without the help of private investors.
For the first time in TheFerretStore.com’s history, the April 2001 print catalog now includes supplies for small animals, dogs and cats. A quote in the press release announcing the addition said, “Up until now, we’ve been 100% ferret product, but with the demise of the pet dot-com’s, online shoppers are looking for etailers which have a diverse product offering.”
Another online first! TheFerretStore.com announced the launch of “A Ferret’s Perspective” an “e-zine featuring information on all aspects of ferret care including grooming, nutrition, traveling tips and more. Features articles are written by experts including Mary R. Shefferman, editor and co-founder of Modern Ferret magazine.”
Due to its rapid growth and increased product lines, TheFerretStore.com breaks ground on an expansion project that will double the size of the distribution center. Scott Sanfilippo is quoted in the local press as saying, “We added many, many products to make TheFerretStore.com a one-stop-shop for pet owners… and those product quickly filled whatever empty space we had in our distribution center.
Scott Sanfilippo and partner, Joe Palko, officially spin off TheFerretStore.com’s print and web design departments into a separate company called Y Store Builders. According to the press release announcing the new company, “Y Store Builders specializes in creating and maintaining eCommerce enabled websites for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies. With a team of graphics designers, programmers and database administrators, Y Store Builders is able to create websites using the latest technology.” Later on, this company would be known by the name it has today – Solid Cactus.
In an unique marketing move to promote his online pet business, Scott Sanfilippo announces he will host a weekly animal talk show beginning in January 2002. “‘The Pet Guy Show’ will air each Sunday from 10am to Noon and will feature talk and informational segments on all types of pets and pet care.” Sanfilippo told the local media, “this will be the area’s only talk and information program devoted to pets.” The program aired in the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, PA area for a total of three years.
TheFerretStore.com was recognized as one of the country’s top eCommerce websites at the 3rd Annual I.MERCHANT Awards, presented by PRIMEDIA’s CATALOG AGE magazine during their annual conference in Chicago. Sherry Chiger, editorial director of CATALOG AGE noted, “We’re extremely pleased to recognize TheFerreStore.com as one of the catalog industry’s outstanding eCommerce sites.
One of TheFerretStore.com’s private label products designed by Scott Sanfilippo, was featured on the CBS Television’s popular morning program “The Saturday Early Show.” The segment featured the “Ferret Flying Saucer” which is exclusive to TheFerretStore.com.
The CritterStore.com is launched to “cater to the needs of the growing number of small animal owners and features products for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, pet rats, chinchillas, prairie dogs and hedgehogs.” This was the beginning of several niche websites Scott Sanfilippo would launch over the next several years.
TheFerretStore.com celebrates 10 years in business with the launch of a new website and logo commemorating the event. Announcing the new launch, Scott Sanfilippo was quoted as saying, “Our new website features enhanced search capabilities, easier navigation, faster load times and a customer friendly look and feel.” Prior to this, the last time the site got a facelift was in 2000.
After three years in business, Solid Cactus moves to an expanded location in the Jewelcor Center, downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA. Scott Sanfilippo was quoted in the press release as saying, “We have grown from just 4 employees two years ago, to 18 today and that number will grow even more by year’s end. Our new facility has room for 36, so we’re planning for continued growth.”
Three of Scott Sanfilippo’s eCommerce sites are finalists in the 6th annual I.MERCHANT Awards. The sites include TheFerretStore.com, ActiveK9.com and RabbitCentral.com. Sanfilippo noted at the time, “it was an honor for TheFerretStore.com to win in 2002 and we hope to win again this year with one or more of our properties.”
Solid Cactus forms a partnership with Yahoo! Small Business to create several pre-designed templates and design layouts for the Yahoo! Store eCommerce platform. Additionally, as part of the agreement, Solid Cactus will begin offering Yahoo! Store training to store owners via interactive web sessions. Four design packages are offered with price points starting at $349 up to $2999.
Solid Cactus enters into a partnership with Starkville, MS based EY Studios to offer clients unique, illustrated stores as a departure from traditional web design. The hand-drawn websites will include standard Yahoo! Store functionality and will be built with search engine optimization standards in mind.
An additional eCommerce store is added to Scott Sanfilippo’s portfolio when HealthyPetStore.com was purchased for an undisclosed price from a company located in Oakhurst, New Jersey. The addition of this new store, takes the number of stores to eight.
Scott Sanfilippo announces that for fiscal year 2005, Solid Cactus continued to grow adding 15 additional employees bringing headcount up to 33 and the annual payroll to $1.2 million. A press release at the time noted that the company expects to continue to add staff and increase payroll to $2.5 million in 2006.
Scott Sanfilippo announced that the number of eCommerce stores he owns is now up to 13 with the launch of BuyDingo.com. Other stores now operating under his control include TheFerretStore.com, ActiveK9.com, PetCareCentral.com, RabbitCentral.com, CritterStore.com, AnimalCages.com, QualityDogTreats.com, HealthyPetStore.com, TheKittyStore.com, MyFreeHamster.com, FerretMart.com and NeepsWholesale.com. Sanfilippo was quoted as saying, “This new launch kicks off the company’s 2006 web initiative to launch multiple brands and segment specific websites throughout the year. It’s our goal to launch an additional 25 to 30 properties this year.”
TheFerretStore.com was named a finalist in the Consumer Speciality Products category for the 21st Annual Multichannel Merchant Awards.
In a press release titled, “Thousands of Pet Products – One Portal” Scott Sanfilippo announced the launch of SuppliesForMyPet.com which was designed to provide “direct access to the thousands of pet products available” through the multiple pet supply websites he currently operates. Additional features of the site included pet chat forums, pet news and articles on pet care.
The number of eCommerce stores grew by one to 14 with the launch of MyLittleK9.com. Scott Sanfilippo said, “Pet product manufacturers see the popularity of the small breeds and are coming out with more unique and functional items tailored for both pet and owner.” Dubbed as the first “bow-tique” the inspiration for this new store came from Scott’s Chihuahua, Baby.
Make it 17. That’s the number of stores Scott Sanfilippo’s eCommerce collection now includes with the launch of BuyBeefeaters.com which featured the most popular brand of rawhide bones and treats, BuyMerrick.com featuring Merrick brand natural dog treats and food, and MyOutwardHound.com which features the complete line of Outward Hound outdoor gear for dogs from the Kyjen Company.
YouTube.com was launched in November 2005 and in June 2006 Scott Sanfilippo was soliciting videos of people’s ferrets by launching a “Funny Ferret Videos” section to TheFerretStore.com. Visitors were encouraged to film their furry critters and upload them to TheFerretStore.com’s website. Visitors would then get the opportunity to vote for their favorite video, with the winner winning a gift certificate.
Scott Sanfilippo announced the launch of his 18th eCommerce pet store – BuyMarshall.com. The site featured ferret food and accessories from Marshall Pet Products, the largest breeder of pet ferrets in the United States.
While one website gets a refresh, Scott Sanfilippo launches a 19th store – BuySmallPetSupplies.com. A press release at the time indicated that “BuyPetSupplies.com is another micro-site which feature a brand or category specific product line, specifically supplies for small animals.” ActiveK9.com, also got a redesign and several new site features which included product reviews, email newsletter and a blog.
Scott Sanfilippo announces he’s leaving TheFerretStore.com and is moving over to help grow and run the Solid Cactus business which he co-founded in 2001. Sanfilippo takes the title of Chief Operating Officer effective September 1, 2006.
Scott Sanfilippo announces that nine additional eCommerce stores are now up and running. The new additions include BuyPetStrollers.com, BuyPetCarriers.com, BuyAgilityGear.com, BuyBabbleBalls.com, AutoGearForDogs.com, PlushPets.com, PetStainAndOdorRemover.com, BuyDogSupplements.com and BuyKyjen.com. This takes the count of eCommerce stores to 28.
Solid Cactus earns two Silver Davey Awards for outstanding web design. Over 3,500 entries were received from web design firms, graphic artists, ad agencies and creative professionals across the country.
For the first time, Solid Cactus was named the “21st Best Place to Work in PA” out of the state’s 221,000 businesses. The win comes on the heels of a year which saw the company double in size to 75 employees, claim two Davie Award wins for outstanding web design and both Scott Sanfilippo and Joe Palko earning the title “Top 40 Under 40” for 2006.
May 1, 2007
Scott Sanfilippo made the announcement that TheFerretStore.com and several other of his eCommerce stores have been sold to pet supply retailer, DrsFosterSmith.com. Sanfilippo was quoted as saying, “Having built the business from scratch over a decade ago, we’re very excited to the see business transition to such a well-known and respected company as Drs. Foster and Smith.” The reason for the sale? Solid Cactus’ latest employee count is at 80 and it continues to grow.