Wan Anzhong is a pet food store owner very different from most others. His store focuses on products that are of a high standard, look great, and are actually good for the pets. We talked to him about his store and his inspiration. We also visited other stores which sell animals, food, and clothes for pets, and asked the owners the reasons why they believe people buy pets.
Cakes made in the shape of paws for the delight of dogs.
Are these kinds of delicacies more expensive than traditional ones?
In fact, they are just a little bit more expensive, not much more.
So, what’s the difference between your food and the normal one?
Normally the snacks we buy in shops are unhealthy. That food contains lots of preservatives. Our products never have any preservatives, and can generally last from 6 months to a year. Even though our products are more expensive than others, customers are still willing to buy them. The reason is our quality. We have the same standards for our pet treats as are found in food for humans . We also sell pet food for meals, so we can make sure the pets have a balanced intake of nutrients.
Dried fish for cats and dogs, which, as our photographer can confirm, is edible for humans too.
Can you introduce the most popular products?
Our food is made mostly for either cats or dogs, and a large part of our products are suitable for both of them. One of our famous products is Apple Chicken. It uses chicken breast, which we puree into the shape we want.
Does the fancier food sell better?
Not at all really. Apple Chicken is simple but popular, and because dogs love to eat it, we sell quite a lot.
Store specialty Apple Chicken.
What are some of your most special products?
This “Little Black Cat”, has tiny pieces of seaweed shaped like a cat in the middle. It’s very difficult to make because of the small size and the precision required.
The impressive level of detail on "Little Black Cat"
You already make perfect food for pets, even humans can eat some of it too. What do you believe is the different between human and pets?
I think we are the same, not much different. Pets are important for people nowadays, just like one’s family members. This Dragon Boat Festival we are also preparing special rice dumplings for dogs, it will sell on the Direct Sales TV channel and in shops.
Ferrero Rocher for pets, inside the wrapping is a meat ball.
Recently we have been in an economic recession, are customers less willing to buy your products?
No, they treat pets like their family or children, so of course they are always willing to spend money on them.
One of the store's most impressive creations, "Salmon Sushi", is made with dried chicken breast over rice. Dogs like it more than cats!
Do you have any pets?
Yes, three cats and a mixed breed dog at my father’s house.
Did you buy them from a shop?
No, I adopt them from the Neihu Animal Shelter.
So you personally support adopting rather than buying?
Yes. I don’t know if you have been to the shelter in Neihu, but there are more than ten thousand animals crowded into three warehouse-like buildings. After two weeks, if no one adopts them, they are put down.
What made you decide to open this special store as your first business?
My dog died years ago because of bad pet food giving him liver cancer. So I want to make some good and healthy food for pets, I researched and developed it myself.
Dog paw cookies.
All these products are created by you?
Another qualified worker and I do it together. I majored in electronics, but this is my passion, so I chose to make it my job. I’m happy to do all of this.
A different store owner shows us one of the most popular items of clothing sold mostly during the colder months, an animal fur coat for cats and dogs to wear. This elaborate piece of clothing is imported from Japan and costs over NT1000. In addition to this sort of fairly extravagant item, the store also sells more ordinary clothes and accessories for pets, in addition to treats and snacks. The owner believes one of the reasons people buy pets is because they are easier and cheaper to maintain than children, because "you won't have to worry about whether their schoolwork is good or bad and they won't start dating".
Our third interviewee also has a store which sells pets and clothing for them, although his store's focus is more on accessories such as shoes. He believes that a lot of people who buy pets nowadays tend to treat them as people, buy clothes for them and pamper them. He believes the reason for this is that "animals are more predictable in many ways, they give back as much love as you give them, and they won't leave you when they grow up". He believes one of the common reasons people buy animals nowadays is "because their sons and daughters have grown up and left home and they don't want their house to feel empty".
Interviews by Gin Hsieh and Daniel Pagan Murphy,
Photography by Witold Chudy.
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|Written by : Daniel Pagan Murphy
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