Strolling along Howell Street in downtown Hillsdale, the casual observer might miss the small, wooden sign with green and white paint that reads, “Nature’s Call Pet Shop.” Those who enter, however, will experience the pet shop’s unique atmosphere made possible by the owner, John Hatfield.
Upon entering “Nature’s Call Pet Shop,” customers meet animals they wouldn’t typically find. A parrot and an iguana roam freely, greeting customers as they enter. Fish tanks line the walls in varying shades of blue. Across the aisle, rats, hamsters, and snakes scurry and slither around their cages, and Rolo, a friendly rabbit, hops curiously around customers’ feet.
Hillsdale’s pet shop started almost seven years ago when Hatfield decided that the town deserved a pet shop done differently. Since its inception, Hatfield staffed the shop with a knowledgable team who can inform customers of the needs and characteristics of their animal. This includes matching people with the animal that would best fit them and their lifestyle.
Caring for animals was a hobby of Hatfield’s as a child, and it grew into a career when he began to help a friend out with his pet shop. That is where he learned most about how to care for animals and realized his passion for tending to animals and placing them in good homes. After his friend’s pet shop closed, Hatfield wanted to open one of his own. Born and raised in Hillsdale, he chose to open the store where his passion all began.
Hatfield is as up front as possible with customers, he said, and provides detailed guidelines about long-term care for animals.
“It is better for them to know now than to figure out down the road,” Hatfield said.
He displays his passion for his customers and animals alike through how seriously he takes his job.
“I have lives depending on me,” he said as he cleaned a fish tank.
Jenn Hatfield, John’s wife, has worked alongside him for seven years. She and her husband make a great team, she said, because they communicate with each other so well.
“John is caring. That is the biggest one. He is very helpful. He very much likes to make sure that everyone is educated on what they are taking home with them,” Jenn Hatfield said.
Junior Emma Johnson recently explored the store for the first time and said she was fascinated by the shop and its admirable owners.
“I talked to Jenn and she was telling me about the bearded dragons they had,” Johnson said. “She told me how sometimes the lizards will either wave or fan out their beards to each other. I just thought it was really interesting hearing about them.”
Some Hillsdale community animal lovers agree that the store is captivating, but recognize it’s a pet shop with a mission: to inform to its customers so that they may have the best experience.
Jenn Hatfield emphasized that the shop focuses on informing customers of all the animal needs, maybe more than other pet providers like Walmart.
“It is important to have a good experience here, but it is more important to be able to go home and enjoy what you got,” Jenn Hatfield said. “That is our goal here.”