Local pet store owner named one of county’s ‘Elite 40 Under 40’

Premier Pet Supply’s Palmer recognized for work in community

By: Chris Jackett | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 29, 2012

 Premier Pet Supply owner Mike Palmer, center, holds daughters Ava, 8, on left, 
and Brook, 6, at his store.

Premier Pet Supply owner Mike Palmer, center, holds daughters Ava, 8, on left, and Brook, 6, at his store.

Photo by Deb Jacques

BEVERLY HILLS — For the past 20 years, Premier Pet Supply has been a staple among Beverly Hills businesses along Southfield Road. For the last 18 years, Mike Palmer has been the store’s full-time face and a large part of why it has been successful.

The 35-year-old Novi resident began working at the store — then owned by his uncle, Ray Hesano — full time upon graduation from North Farmington High School in 1994. Eventually buying the store from his uncle after completing an associate’s degree in business, Palmer has made the store a big part of the community, and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson recognized him as one of his “Elite 40 Under 40” during Patterson’s State of the County address earlier this month.

“My name was actually submitted by someone else, and they called me and said they were interested in considering me,” Palmer said. “I’m the only representative from the Beverly Hills area and the only pet store owner.”

Out of a pool of about 400 candidates, Palmer’s resume helped him stand out among others throughout the county. When Village Council President Rosanne Koss was at the State of the County address, she had no idea about the recognition until it was announced.

“I was elated, especially since you consider our village is 3 percent commercial,” Koss said during a Feb. 21 council meeting. “One of the reasons they recognized him was his efforts in the community.”

Premier Pet Supply provides a variety of pet supplies, but it goes beyond that.

“What makes us different is a simple formula: Treat people the way you’d want to be treated. It’s so simple, but we actually do it,” Palmer said. “I really feel our customer service has an added value with knowledge of the products that we’re selling. People want to have confidence in the product they purchase. I’m looking for a lifelong customer. We really try to keep it a really cool, family oriented environment.”

The store has many regular groups and volunteers thanks to programs Palmer has helped coordinate.

Four local rescue shelters — Huntington Woods-based Companion Pet Rescue, Special Animal Friends and Rescue Inc. of Livonia, Happy Homes of Troy and Almost Home of Southfield — are regulars at the store, especially on weekends. Each brings cats or dogs for patrons to visit with and adopt.

“They’re all local non-kill shelters, and that’s important to us,” Palmer said, noting that rabbits, ferrets, fish and reptiles are really the extent of the store’s direct pet sales beyond rescue shelter adoptions. “It’s not a big part of what we do, but it is a nice part of the experience. Kids love to hang out in that area.”

In addition to 23 employees, three other programs have also contributed to the store’s local success. Premier Pet Supplies works with Birmingham Public Schools to employ two autistic part-time employees and has a Premier Pet Volunteer program where elementary school students rotate monthly to volunteer during one pre-assigned day each week for their month.

“We’re booked out three to four months in advance because so many kids want to come in here,” Palmer said of the young volunteers.

The store also helped create the Birmingham Pet Pantry two years ago with then-9-year-old Covington School student Sophie Rotger.

“As opposed to scurrying and finding homes for all those pets that have been abandoned, her idea was to have a food drive so owners could feed their pets and not abandon them,” Palmer said of the Birmingham Pet Pantry.

The pantry has collected 200,000 pounds of food in its first two years, which is then distributed through Gleaners Community Food Bank and the Michigan Animal Care Network. Palmer said the goal is to collect 10,000 pounds of food per year, but 800 pounds had already been collected on the first collection day during a Birmingham Youth Assistance Dog Show earlier this month at Berkshire Middle School.

His store has won several regional awards as the best pet store in southeast Michigan, but he credits his volunteers, 23 employees and customers for that.

“It’s a fun atmosphere. People feel comfortable here. I don’t know too many businesses like us. We’re a neighborhood store,” Palmer said. “What we do isn’t difficult. We stay active in the community, and they give back. I truly feel all the successes we have is a testament to the community we’re in.”

Premier Pet Supply is located at 31215 Southfield Road, just north of 13 Mile, tucked in next to the Market Fresh grocery store. Visit www.premierpetsupply.com for more information.