SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- For Down Syndrome Awareness month, Ozarks First Reporter Bailey Strohl sat down with Alex and his dad Brent, to talk about their new business, Al’s Pals Pet Place.
Launched in February, Al’s Pals is an online store that offers monthly subscription boxes, as well as dozens of products to pamper your pet.
“We’ve got a dog, and she’s got a really sensitive stomach. We were always looking for treats that will fit her needs. It was something we were already looking for, so it’s something we could do,” says Brent.
After Alex graduated, Brent says he was looking for something significant to keep Alex busy.
“One of the things that we always wanted from this was to have a sense of something that gave him purpose…we didn’t want him to just come home once school was over for him and have nothing to do. But we wanted to make sure that he had something meaningful, purposeful.”
But through the power of social media, the idea quickly gained popularity.
“We did a video back in February, it was he and I, just sitting down and kind of sharing with people…We just decided to go ahead and put it out there and share it with a few of our friends, totally unprepared, completely unprepared. We got our first order within a matter of just a few minutes and realized we had no boxes, we had no idea how to ship, we had just a few products, and that was it. It was a very, very strange start to all of this.”
Brent and Alex began in-person deliveries around the Springfield metro…until COVID-19 made its impact on the Ozarks.
“It was always our intention, as long as we could, to do those deliveries ourselves. It was always our plan to do that. As a matter of fact, we really honestly thought that the majority of our business would be here.”
But as things changed, so did Al’s Pals strategy.
“When COVID came along, we started doing touchless. We go, we leave the products, ring the doorbell, let them know we’re there, kind of thing. Trying to keep, especially him, as little contact as possible.”
Brent says Al’s Pals now ships products across the country more than they do locally.
“One thing we have found is we started doing these live videos a couple of months ago; one of the things that surprised me is people would say, ‘I didn’t know you were from Springfield.”
Brent says they have capped subscription boxes at 50 per month and typically ship about 100 more packages to customers each month, keeping them both busy while stuck at home.
“We hope to spread a little joy along the way.”