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"We sell everything from pet strollers to toy boxes." - TRICIA BOLDS

Tricia Bolds

OWNER, GULF COAST PET SUPPLIES

Tricia Bolds grew Gulf Coast Pet Supplies from $650,000 in revenues in 2008 to $3.4 million in 2011—a 421 percent increase—earning an Inc. magazine ranking as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies. Bolds, 36, expects revenues of about $5 million this year. To accommodate her expanding inventory, she is adding a 700-square-foot mezzanine to her 2,500-square-foot warehouse unit on McAshton Road. She has three employees and a husband who helps when he has time off from his job as a paramedic firefighter for Sarasota County.

Tell us about your business. About 95 percent of our sales come from online customers, who buy from our website, gulfcoastpetsupplies.com, or through Amazon.  We ship all over the country, from a $5 bottle of supplements all the way up to a $150 bag of food or a $600 GPS tracking system.

The other 5 percent of sales come from home deliveries, which we just started and want to expand. For a $50 minimum order, we deliver throughout the Sarasota area. We sell everything from pet strollers to toy boxes, but we focus on healthy foods for cats and dogs.

What’s your background? I graduated from Riverview High School and have a degree in business from State College of Florida. I started working as a model when I was 17. I modeled for BMW and Bikini Calendars, and I did a lot of liquor promotions and trade shows. I also started a business designing websites. I moved to Los Angeles to work in 2000 and came back to Sarasota after the 9/11 attacks to be closer to my family.

Lessons learned? When I started to sell pet food, I brought in a lot. But food is dated, and distributors were giving me short-dated food. I ended up donating and throwing away a lot. I know now what sells. Today if I bring in a new food product that is expiration dated, I start small, maybe a case.

How is it working with Amazon? Most of our sales come through Amazon. But they watch how you are doing and if you are doing well, they will go to the manufacturer of what you are selling. Once Amazon gets the product your sales drop. We were selling about 20 cat houses a day on Amazon. But after about nine months, Amazon picked up the cat houses and began selling at a lower price. Now we sell maybe 20 a year, because they have taken over that market.

Favorite motto? Live your life so that when you hit the floor every morning, the devil says, ”Oh, hell, she’s up.”

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