High-end bunny food
Rabbit Hole Hay
When Kevin Niemeyer started working at Rabbit Hole Hay about a year ago, he had no idea how picky rabbits and guinea pigs could be when it came to what they eat. His employers—Michael and Kathryn Redman, owners of marketing/advertising/consulting company Half a Bubble Out, and Jason Krueger—had found a niche market in high-end hay that’s sourced right here in Northern California. The web-based business (rabbitholehay.com), which launched about five years ago, sells hay, bedding and some chews (and will soon add pellets) to customers all over the world—directly but also through other online stores like Chewy and Amazon. And though there is no storefront, local rabbit, chinchilla and guinea pig owners regularly stop by the warehouse, located by the Jesus Center on 13th Street, to pick up their online orders. With a background in warehouse management, Niemeyer is the business’ manager, though he says with a small team, they all wear many hats. He recently took the time to chat with the CN&R about the very unique local business.
Tell me about your niche.
We specialize in Timothy hay, which is grown in the high desert of Northern California. It’s the preferred hay for rabbit owners, as it’s high in nutrients. We’re in touch with the farmers who grow it, and they send us the best of the best—then we take the bales back and grade them. Rabbits and guinea pigs are surprisingly picky. I had no clue before I started working here, how picky those little [things] are. They’ll eat an electrical cord but turn their noses up at bad hay.
How’s the response been?
We’re really big on customer service. The end customer is the people, but really it’s their pet. We get letters and pictures from pet owners. They tell us how excited [their pets] get when our particular product comes through the door—as opposed to a generic product. Evidently, they know the difference as soon as it comes in the front door. I hear that consistently. It’s a whole other breed of pet—and the people who are into them are really into them. I had no idea that there were super high-end bunnies! They’re really cute, but they need high-end supplies.
Besides hay, what do you sell?
We do mostly hay, and some chew sticks—apple chew sticks, literally apple sticks off an apple tree. We sell chewable housing and bedding. They make a lot of the bedding out of willow and wicker, because they’re going to chew on it.
So, business is good?
When it started, it was in a side office. Now we’ve got a 7,000-square-foot warehouse [near] downtown Chico. … I sent off a 40-foot cargo container to Taipei yesterday. And I’ve got orders from Singapore, the Philippines …. People from all over the world want this Timothy hay from Northern California.
And you like your job?
This is a local business owned by local people, who are part of the community and love helping the community. It’s a rare treat to really enjoy working for the people you work for. It keeps me motivated to succeed because I feel appreciated in the areas where I excel.