Page 35 - The Rockaway Times

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Page 35
The Rockaway Times
Women of Rockaway:
Lisa Long of Rockapup
By Katie McFadden
Who runs the peninsula?
Women. A large number of
local businesses and organi-
zations are owned and oper-
ated by females. And they de-
serve recognition. As part of
an ongoing series, the Rock-
away Times is profiling local
female entrepreneurs each
week. This week is Lisa Long,
owner of Rockapup.
If you want to treat your
pet right, Rockapup is your lo-
cal one-stop shop for all their
needs. Lisa Long, a certified
dog trainer and K9 nutritionist,
brings professional knowledge
on what’s best for your pet, to
the store that has served Rock-
away’s furry friends since 2011.
healthy pet food, top-quality
pet supplies for all types of an-
imals, as well as small animals
like fish, birds and rodents,
plus services like grooming and
dog training. Long is joined by
a knowledgeable staff that in-
cludes store manager, Paula,
grooming manager, Cameron
and the newest team member,
Kyla. “Everyone who works
here fits in and knows this isn’t
just about making sales. We
build relationships here. We
know you and we know your
pet,” Long said.
Prior to working with ani-
mals, Long worked many years
as a stagehand for Local 1 and
worked on shows at Jones
Beach. However, she knew it
wasn’t her passion. “Working
with animals is something I
was kind of born to do. My at-
traction to animals and their at-
traction to me and my ability to
communicate with them came
naturally. It’s where my pas-
sion was. In life you come to a
point where you evaluate your
situation and I felt like I needed
to start following my passion a
little more,” Long said. So she
did. “I left an amazing job to
start dog training and basical-
ly I started walking dogs to get
people to know me and build
my business and it was a really
drastic transition for me.” Long
started her dog training busi-
ness, The Green Dog, in 2005.
In 2011, Long transitioned
into another role as a retail
business owner when she
opened Rockapup. Long was
originally looking for spots to
offer her training classes and
had inquired with the previ-
ous owners of the Beach 116th
Street pet store about renting
out the downstairs space, but
she found the spot to be in
disarray and poorly managed.
However when a fire occurred
in the laundromat next door
and the pet store was dam-
aged, the previous owners took
it as an opportunity to close
shop. Long saw it as an op-
portunity to offer an improved
pet outlet to the peninsula. “It
was never my intention to own
a retail store but it was one of
those opportunities that was
too good to pass up. I knew I
could do my training there
while offering the community
something that hadn’t existed,
which was a place where you
could get really great pet prod-
ucts without going over the
bridge,” Long said.
With the new store, Long
had to fight to change the poor
reputation of the previous pet
stores at the same location,
which, she says, were poorly
maintained and sold puppies,
something Long is strongly
against. Instead, she promotes
adoptions. On June 25, Rock-
apup will sponsor its biggest
adoption event yet at Riis Park
Beach Bazaar, Adopt-a-Paloo-
za, featuring hundreds of pets
up for adoption from different
shelters across the city.
With Rockapup, Long also
takes a healthy approach to
pet care. “As far as my own
health goes, I’m into organic
items and through being a dog
trainer, I’ve learned that it’s no
different for animals. When
you feed yourself garbage, it
has bad effects and the same
goes for your pet. Wellness
and preventative measures are
more cost effective than vet
bills down the line. High-end
products may seem expen-
sive up front but you’re sav-
ing on medications for an un-
healthy pet later,” Long said,
adding that she’ll be talking
more about pet wellness at the
Rockaway Wellness Expo on
Sunday, April 17 at West End
Besides overcoming the poor
reputation of previous pet
storeowners, Long has found
competition from large, brand
name stores to be a challenge
for a small business. “Small
businesses may charge an ex-
tra dollar or two and it’s not
because we’re trying to take
advantage of people. I have to
charge higher prices because
I can’t buy things at the same
discount as large corporations
like Target or Petco, since stores
like that can buy larger quanti-
ties from distributors. We’re
not trying to rip people off,
we’re trying to do the best we
can,” Long says. “If I could be
cheaper than Petco, I would.”
However, when it comes to
what’s important, Long says
small businesses are the ones
who are there during trying
times. For instance, despite
being a new store devastated
by Sandy, Rockapup coordi-
nated with the ASPCA to of-
fer emergency pet supplies
and services to the commu-
nity right after, while Petco
remained closed for several
months. “When you need us,
we’re here for you,” Long said.
As a way to generate sup-
plemental income to bounce
back after Sandy, Long start-
ed another business of mak-
Feeders, beach-themed or
personalized pet dish hold-
ers that are shaped like surf-
boards. “When business was
horrendous, I had a panic
moment of thinking I needed
to do something else or the
brick and mortar store may go
under water after Sandy, so I
created this product that is ex-
clusive to Rockaway,” she said.
Many other local business-
es, like Whit’s End and Uma’s
have gotten on board and have
them outside their establish-
ments for pet passerby’s to
have a snack or drink.
Long enjoys what she does
daily. “I invest a lot of time in
this business, but if you like
what you do, it’s not work. I’m
still excited to come here every
day. I enjoy helping people.
When someone comes in with
an issue with their pet and we
can resolve it through proper
food or supplements or train-
ing and I can give advice that
changes someone’s life and
they say ‘thank you, this is
perfect,’ that’s amazing to me.
Helping improve someone’s
quality of life with their pet is
really cool,” she said.
To others looking to start a
business, Long says, “go for it,
but educate yourself before-
hand. Learning by mistake
is not optimal, but there are
many other female business
owners that would gladly ad-
vise and help you along the
Rockapup, located at 145
Beach 116th Street, is open six
days a week, from 10 a.m. to
6 p.m. Tuesday through Sat-
urday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
on Sunday. More info about
Rockapup can be found at Info about
Long’s training business can
be found at TheGreenDog.
Lisa Long