What started as a small operation out of a Bisbee garage 32 years ago has evolved into one of the most well known mom-and-pop bird-enthusiast stores in Arizona.
Owner Jon Friedman and his late wife opened The Wild Bird Store 23 years ago in Tucson with a specific vision: to provide a shopping experience for bird lovers that veered from the business model of the ever-so-common franchise stores that can be found across the state and country.
Doing so not only gives Friedman and his staff the ability to apply creativity in the workplace, but it also gives customers more power in finding exactly what they are looking for in a feeder.
“People know us far and wide, and they prefer to shop in a store where they have a choice,” said Friedman, who has been fascinated by birds since a young age. “Here, we have the freedom to create and experiment with products while producing a cutting-edge product that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.”
Along with a limited lifetime warranty, custom feeders at The Wild Bird Store come with a waterproof, insect proof design to make for the most bird-friendly, customer-convenient product that use quality parts like the top of the line incense cedar wood that is imported from Oregon to make the feeders.
Along with creating a durable product, designs are field tested to achieve optimum results.
“Our top priority is that a feeder is bird friendly,” said Friedman. If it’s not bird-friendly, it doesn’t matter what the design is or how beautiful it looks – it’s not a good design if birds don’t want to use it.”
That said, significant time is also put into making each feeder as aesthetically pleasing to the customer. According to Friedman, about 80 percent of all feeders are created on location at The Wild Bird Store’s workshop. The other 20 percent are well known, externally manufactured feeders.
One of Friedman’s most popular sellers is a custom feeder that, using a weight-sensitive perch, specifically accommodates cardinals only.
It’s that type of outside-the-box creativity that draws people from all over Tucson to choose The Wild Bird Store over larger chain stores.
Friedman said he is always open to taking requests from customers for specific feeders, and that gives him an edge when facing the competition. It’s one of the driving factors that has kept him in business for decades.
“If you’re a franchisee, you have to take orders from the franchise that are franchise approved only,” said Friedman, who had offers in the past to convert to a franchise, but declined. “I’m an independent businessman, and that runs against the grain for me. We take a lot of our cues from customers who want a feeder that for example only feeds cardinals, or woodpeckers, or hummingbirds, or orioles. We started thinking about these things and basing products on customer needs.”
Along with feeders, The Wild Bird Store also mixes many of its own feeds on-site, or custom-orders feed that use a results-oriented product that is not only most desired by birds, but considers their nutritional needs. Bird fountains and other accessories are plentiful as well. But the perks of shopping at The Wild Bird Store go far beyond the product, though the product cannot be ignored.
“Their incomparably beautiful and functional handmade feeders are a joy to behold and use,” said Kenneth Ryan, a naturalist and Arizona resident. “The best factory produced feeders are here. The feed is here. An encyclopedic knowledge of the feeding habits of wild birds, and the willingness to freely share it is here. The Wild Bird Store is an homage to the natural world within which to exuberantly rejoice.”
The Wild Bird Store is located at 3160 E. Ft. Lowell Road. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 322-9466 or visit www.wildbirdsonline.com.