Wild Birds Unlimited made a strong and lasting impression on Betty Pauciello and Nina Resavage long before they realized it was a franchise.
Pauciello originally came into contact with the brand at a store that was about 15 minutes from where she lived. She and Resavage had been visiting that store for at least a year when they found out that it was a franchise and that the owner they enjoyed speaking with so much was a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise store owner.
“Nina and I waited for some customers to leave before we approached the owner,” Pauciello said. “Both of us were at the point where we were hoping to find new careers and we asked her about the business.”
Pauciello was working in the corporate world at the time, while Resavage was teaching middle school health and physical education, a job she held for 28 years. They were both ready to move on.
They got in touch with the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise development team and spoke with Chief Development Officer Paul Pickett. The two also did their own research and were quickly impressed with the positive reviews the brand had from its franchise system.
“There were other bird feeding franchises in the area, so we had the opportunity to look at three different business models. But when we did the research, we decided that Wild Birds Unlimited was the one,” Pauciello said. “They were more established. Plus, we loved the store. We shopped there. Within four months, we were ready to roll.”
Wild Birds Unlimited also just had a better vibe, overall.
“The store we visited always had such a nice atmosphere and we thought ‘Wouldn’t this be a fun thing to do for a living? This is a nice group,’” Resavage said.
They opened their Wild Birds Unlimited store from the ground up in Dresher, Pennsylvania in July 1993. In the beginning, Resavage continued to teach and would work in the store on weekends and during the summer.
“We’re in an area where there are several nature centers and places nearby to go on bird walks,” Pauciello said. “They have educational programs for adults and children, so people around here grew up with that surrounding them. If they were interested in birds and nature, they had the ability to pursue that interest.”
Fast-forward to early 2016, and Pauciello and Resavage were approached by a new set of interested prospective franchisees. Rich Conroy and Marlene Morano came into the Dresher store and told Pauciello and Resavage they wanted to open a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise. This is not an uncommon occurrence, as many prospective Wild Birds Unlimited franchisees visit existing stores to help them determine whether they are interested in moving forward with the franchising process.
“We talked with them about the pros and cons and directed them to Paul. We just figured they would open a store, but they came back to us a few months later,” Pauciello said. “There were no available territories in the area that they were interested in, and they wondered if Nina and I would sell our location.”
Pauciello and Resavage didn’t want to sell just yet, but after about a year, they hired Conroy part-time. He worked at the store for one year before they decided to take him up on his offer and retire.
Pauciello and Resavage cited their love of the customers as the main reason for staying with the brand for so long. Even though they no longer own or work in their old store, they still keep in touch with many customers and even make lunch dates with them.
“As much as we have always loved the franchise, our customers were paramount in keeping our business for so long, the ability to make a living and working with such great people,” Pauciello said. “People would come to the store and say ‘I come here because I love the atmosphere.’ I don’t know where else you can come across that.”
Resavage echoed the sentiment.
“Our customers were always very loyal,” she said. “They wanted to support us. They liked to support local businesses.”
Not only did Resavage and Pauciello form long-term friendships with many of their loyal customers, but they also made plenty of friends among the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise system.
“To this day, I keep in touch with store owners who have sold their stores and others who are still in the system,” Pauciello said.
Resavage and Pauciello appreciate the support the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise support center team provided throughout the years, from marketing and social media support to testing products to finding vendors to numbers analysis.
“The franchise was always trying to make things new and fresh,” Pauciello said. “They did things that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own, from a marketing standpoint and a new product standpoint. They tested the quality of the products and always came out with new things and new ideas. Marketing was never my strong suit, so we really leaned on them for support. You can’t get this far without having a good company behind you to make it happen. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of the franchise support center team.”
Now that they’re retired, Pauciello and Resavage can look back upon a long period of time in which they held jobs they truly enjoyed.
“We didn’t mind getting up to go to work,” Resavage said. “It wasn’t just about the birds.”
“It’s been a nice journey,” Pauciello said. “We were just looking for something that would allow us to make a living, something that would be worthwhile and that we’d enjoy even after 25 years. I wanted something that I would enjoy doing and look back upon and think that I made a difference.”
The startup costs for a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise range from $150,837 to $260,991, which includes the $30,000 franchise fee. To learn more about franchising with Wild Birds Unlimited, visit https://franchise.wbu.com/.