Meet Scott Arient! He is probably the most knowledgeable “fish” person I have ever met. I am not speaking about someone who knows hist sushi, but a man who knows what pet lovers need to know about their investment in these pets. Yes, they are pets. While you do not sit and pet them or play with them like you do a puppy or a cat, they do bring a certain tranquility to the pet owner/pet relationship. Never having had my own aquarium, but now enjoying the one that my grandkids have, I see a bit of what Scott enjoys every day. The kids, all three, get up in the morning and immediately run down to the kitchen where the tank sits. They talk to their pets and watch them swim, then pinch out their food before enjoying their breakfast. Often, they dine together.
When the kids have been out of town, I have done the duties of feeding their pets and find myself sitting by the tank watching them swim and dine. I also find this time very restful as I am not thinking about schedules and deadlines during these moments. Scott calls them magical moments of peace.
Scott’s story is simple, but one that has great meaning. When he was 15, he wanted a little spending money, and so he got a part-time job in Suburban Pet Shop in Berwyn. Through his high school years, he worked there learning a great deal about the business and the most important lesson in the world of retail. Customer Service and relationship building.
During his college years, he went to work at Doggie Den, but since he was highly attracted to the world of Tropical Fish, spent his working hours in that department. His education was more like junior college as once he became a tool designer, he left school for his career. Although he wanted to be an architect, he did not want to spend the years in school. This may have been a Godsend, as the position he got , in Michigan, moved him to a new life where he was able to hone his people skills. He bought some real estate, and became a landlord as he reconstructed the apartments. The building was fully rented when the company he was working for had to put him on a “leave”.
Scott was okay with his building rents despite the market, but at the same time, became a little homesick and so he sold his building and headed back to the Chicago area. Here, he went to work at Zooland Pet in Brookfield and then decided to open up Scott’s in Westchester, a store that specialized in tropical fish and health pet food.
This is his love. To make sure that each and every client ( he prefers using this word over customer) gets the best treatment and the finest service that can be obtained. He sold that store, but found that he could not be away from the market place, and thus, his new store, a fabulous shop on Harlem Avenue at Madison Street in Oak Park ( at the intersection of River Forest and Oak Park). The store is lined with tanks and supplies as well as fish that are flown in from South America and all the coasts. Scott and his staff understand what it is their clients are seeking and ensure that every detail is taken care of. They also are there to answer calls and questions during working hours. In fact, even on holidays, when the shop is closed, they do have some hours where they come in to make sure the fish are fed and cared for, they will take your calls.
This is a destination shop in that they offer service and product that you will not get anywhere else. I asked Scott about the “big Box Pet shops” and what type of effect they have had on his smaller , local specialty shop. He told me that they were in fact, good for his business, as the employees in those stores were of high turnover, little knowledge and the personal attention that is needed, does not exist. If people want tropical fish they want them to be healthy and to have professionals ready to answer questions. That being the case, Scott Arient and his staff are THE place to go.
Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish is easy to find, and they are working on a brand new website. I will update you on that as soon as they are ready to go.
Located at 23 N. Harlem (at Madison) just North of the Eisenhower, with plenty of free parking. The phone number is 708-660-9500. They have weird hours for retail, like 9:03 a.m. so I suggest calling first, but while they have strange times on opening, they have a staff that loves what they do and knows what will make you happy!