Thirteen Questions for Sherrie Versluis of
1. In business since: November 1st, 1995
2. What exactly do you do: My store is very unique, even within its own industry. We started by specializing in high quality wild birdfeeders and premium foods along with other products that attract wild birds. Over time, we diversified into gifts for nature lovers. I started selling the jewelry I made along with mineral specimens from around the world. My customers are very environmentally conscious, so I carry Fair Trade coffees and teas that protect habitat for birds, butterflies, and bats. The variety of different and unique products I carry is always changing.
3. Who will we meet when we visit your business (staff): There is myself, plus Christina Little who has been with me for 6 years and Donna Rodgers, who joined the team this summer. You also meet David Gowen who helps us out when needed.
4. You started this because: I saw a need for a specialized wild bird store. We have such an amazing array of wild birds in Manitoba and, in every season. Having the right feeders with the right foods makes all the difference in the birds you will attract to your yard. We have the expertise to help you select what will work for your area and help you identify birds. We’re the specialists!
5. Your motto/vision statement: My motto is ‘In Care of Nature’. I really believe that people who feed wild birds are more in touch with nature and have a deep respect for it. I have had many people over the years share their new found feelings for nature once they were able to enjoy it that much more by feeding birds. This hobby is a great way to introduce children to nature as well.
6. Most gratifying moment: Some of the more memorable are:
• Families who are grateful for their elderly family members that are able to spend their time watching birds out their windows of their residential care home. Bird watching provides them such joy and entertainment during their last days. I have helped several personal care centers set up bird feeding stations in their courtyards for their residents’ enjoyment.
• Having an influence on children, and seeing them win awards on school projects they about feeding birds. It’s also great to see kids come by to spend their allowance on bird food and feeders.
• It’s also great to have customers say, “I learn something new every time I come here!” I love educating people about nature and all it has to offer.
7. Biggest inspiration or influence: There has been no greater influence to me than Mother Nature herself. I thank my parents for taking the family camping starting at such a young age where this love of nature began.
8. Any celebrity customers? (local or otherwise): It would be inappropriate to name people but YES we do have local celebrities from sports teams, high-profile lawyers, along with prominent and international business owners.
9. What causes / charities / local events do you support? I am a current Director of The Lady Gray’l Fund which raises money to support wildlife\nature-related projects in Manitoba. I am also a former Director of The Wildlife Haven which is a rehab centre for injured wildlife. I am a great supporter of these organizations and also of many dog rescues as dogs are my second love!
10. What business-related story do you tell at dinner parties? A family had been greatly enjoying feeding a family of Wild Turkeys. After a particular holiday they noticed 2 of the group was missing, assuming the flock had just broken up. A few days after they told me this, I had a new person come to the store and mention he had some Wild Turkeys in his neighborhood and decided to cook 2 of them for supper!! When I asked what area he lived in, well, you know the rest of the story…
11. If you could tell your customers one thing about your business that they don’t know, what would it be? My staff and I dread fishing season. We get calls about fishing rods and bait because everyone wants to catch ‘The Preferred Perch’.
12. What do you hope your customers experience when they walk in the door? I want my customers to experience tranquility while shopping with the ambience and music we play and, to learn new things about nature. I want every customer’s visit to be a great one!
13. Plans for the future? I plan on keeping up the originality of the store by keeping it fresh with new and exciting products. I am also working on a wild bird newspaper for everyone to read about what’s new in the bird world.