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Insect Protein, Death of Indie Stores and More Reader Thoughts in the Jul-Aug Issue

PETS+ readers share their thoughts and concerns on the pet industry, plus offer praise for PETS+.





  • Can we talk about the sustainability and other pros of insect protein? Apparently some people are just now learning about it being a thing and are grossed out (probably the same people who freak out when they find out what a bully stick is, though, LOL). If more people understood how they could benefit from it, insect protein would be more accepted overall. Or maybe we can just remind them that bugs are an inevitable secret ingredient in all foods, even our own, as it is impossible to keep them out 100%. — Corey Heenan, Boutique and Pet Spa, Altamont, NY
  • I’m tired of seeing news stories that terrify pet owners into not boarding their pet, blaming commercial boarding for the spread of disease. — Ligaya Kelly, Bouquet Canyon Kennels, Santa Clarita, CA
  • As a grooming business owner, I am finding an increase in non-grooming business owners purchasing grooming businesses and new franchises. This does have me concerned for the industry. — Nicoll Vincent, For K-9s & Felines, Westfield, MA
  • Independent pet stores in Oklahoma are becoming nonexistent! Why? No companies, distributors or reps care about us anymore. We are the wasteland left to be swallowed up by a few big-box stores. I drive 100 miles to meet a fish delivery driver so I don’t have to trust FedEx with my fish. I drive two hours to procure parakeets, only parakeets. I can only use local rodent breeders, who can’t keep up with my volume of sales. Shipping reptiles from California adds $10 per animal to my cost, when I have to compete with the big-box prices. I have only seen two dry goods reps in person in the last five years (Covid did affect that). All of this is to say, Middle America … Oklahoma … is dying in the independent aspect of the industry. Please prop us up or we will be no more. — Amber Hudson, The Aquarium Pet Store, Weatherford, OK
  • Vendors don’t seem to realize the fixed costs that indies have. Margin on dog food is horrible unless you buy it in quantity. Long gone are the margins of 30%, when it costs you 34 points to even open the door. We need to get those margins up to be able to stay competitive with the internet. — Rachel McGinnis, Leo & Lucky’s, Parrish, FL


  • The recent article about the pet store that allows private shopping time for dogs who may not do well in a store full of humans or other animals was amazing! (“Retail Therapy,” May-Jun.) We are considering this option for our store. — Rebecca Correro, Lolly & Pups, Van Buren, AR
  • I enjoy getting PETS+. Being a store owner in Hawaii, there are just a few of us and seeing what others are doing and/or what others are experiencing makes me feel I’m not alone through the good and the bad. — Michelle Ichikawa, Dogtown Bakery, Kailua, HI
  • Thank you to everyone at PETS+ for all you do! Your articles, the Facebook group and Sample Box program have been a huge resource for us. You’ve helped us find new vendors to work with and new products to carry. — Laura Burton, Lollypop Farm, Fairport, NY
  • Thanks for always keeping us posted on industry happenings, even if it’s outside of the indie bubble. It’s important to know what the big boys are doing so we can be prepared, or pivot as necessary! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • Your content is always spot on and keeps the pet retailer well informed. Your Sample Box program is by far one of the best resources for product awareness. Hats off to you and keep up the great job! — Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • PETS+ is our favorite pet industry publication. It is fun and thoughtfully put together, and helps all of us independents to stay in touch with the pet industry. Well done! — Tori Rosay, Dexter’s Deli, Del Mar, CA
  • The Sample Boxes are a fun way of sharing new products with customers, and they enjoy the responsibility of giving us feedback. Susan Roraff, Susie’s Petpourri, Reedsburg, WI
  • Thank you for including me in the Brain Squad. It means a lot that my opinion matters and may be used in future publications. — Katie Titterington, Arnie’s Pet Foods, Lincoln, NE

Editor’s note: Not yet a member? Join at!


  • Getting ready for SUPERZOO! — Eric Mack, Purrrfect Bark Market, Columbus, NC

Editor’s note: Us, too! In addition to producing the Show Program, Pocket Guide and Show Dailies, we’ll be delivering live coverage via and We’re also hosting a PETS+ Happy Hour at our booth, #5019, on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 4 p.m. We hope to see you there!


  • A rep for a company reached out to our store because he saw my comment being used in the magazine. I did not know. It was kind of fun to laugh about together and to tell people I had my name in a magazine. — Jennifer Stanislawski, Eden Garden and Pets, West Allis, WI
  • I greatly appreciate all the time spent by everyone at PETS+ to assist us in getting our businesses to thrive in what is a very tough market. — Michele Saharic, Barkley’s Marketplace, Flemington, NJ
  • I’m happy to be part of the Brain Squad and love all the support we receive. — Brett Foreman, Eupawria Holistic Pet Center, Owego, NY
  • Still seems like customers are sticking to essentials to watch spending. Grooming has definitely slowed for us and some of the other area’s groomers. — Cynthia Mckinney, Loyl’s Natural Pet Grocery & Groomery, Houston, TX
  • Never stop teaching us. — Kristina Robertson, The Pet Spa at Barkley Square, Falls Church, VA
  • PETS+ is doing a great job with keeping us up-to-date on the pulse of the industry. Twenty-five years ago when I started in this business, there was no such thing. Keep up the great work! — Paul Lewis, The Green K9, Eustis , FL
  • I would love to know more about what Pamela’s creative process is like. Fill us in! — Jennifer Thomas, Lucky Dog Pet Grocery & Bakery, Lawrence, KS
  • Lots of fun new products throughout the last issue! Thanks for being a resource to see new things between the boxes and the articles. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, W
  • I would love to know how other owners respond to erratic human children in their stores when their parents don’t seem to care. — Julie Johannes, Happy Hounds Pet Supply, Bigfork, MT
  • It would be nice to have more information from Dr. Judy Morgan and the Facebook group Saving Lives One Pet at a Time (regarding all the pets that have fallen ill or have died). — Janet Cesarini, Pupology, Georgetown, TX
  • Thanks for sharing all the good stuff. — Stephanie Rossino, Giggybites Bakery & Marketplace , Chadds Ford , PA
  • I like that you did a focus story on Mika & Sammy’s, a local success story for the Philadelphia region. — Jen Ware, Bill’s Wonderland of Pets, Magnolia, NJ
  • With sales down, I always love hearing about everyone’s promotions/events and marketing ideas. — Shari Wilkins, Lake Dog and Their People, Eufaula, OK
  • We’re loving trying out the new stuff that is coming out. It helps us tell our customers options that are available. Helps us be more educated, as well. Thank you! — Jennifer Stanislawski, Eden Garden And Pets, West Allis, WI
  • You guys are so great. Thank you! — Kathy Palmer, The Fish & Bone, Portland, ME
  • I’m VERY curious to see content and concerns from fellow business owners in regards to the new Fair Labor Standards Act rules. I would love to understand how and what others are doing to prep and react to that as well as other’s thoughts on it. — Krista Schmidt, St Peters Bark!, St Petersburg, FL
  • My pet peeve is how many food manufacturers keep adding copycat products and ignore previously successful lines while pushing new, new, new. — Barbara Clemmens, Aardvark Pet Supplies, Thornwood, NY
  • Would love to hear about how other owners juggle the many hats of being in business for oneself and how they choose what to hire outside help for. — Jamie Schuller, Dog Natural Grooming and Market, Branson, MO
  • Can’t believe the year is half over already! Will be at SUPERZOO before we know it. Thanks for all you do! — Jennifer Guevin, Holistic For Pets, Bradenton , FL
  • Fromm went into PetSupermarket. 🙁 — Debbie Lange, Benson’s Canine Cookies, Lakeland, FL
  • Thank you for the thoughtful questions. I’m looking forward to the issue to continue to learn from those that are successful. — Lisa Kirschner, Sit, Stay, ‘N Play, Inc., Stroudsburg, PA
  • I often get inspired by other stores, by reading their stories and successes in business. — April Wright, The Dog And Cat , Essex Jct, VT
  • Thank you for doing what you do!!!! — Kristi May, Legend Acres, Surprise, AZ
  • The PETS+ community is awesome! — Denise Strong, Pawz On Main, Cottonwood, AZ
  • Love the sharing of peer stores, displays etc. Keep the pictures coming! From what font they used on their window and other small details come from these pictures! — Shari Wilkins, Lake Dog and Their People, Eufaula, OK
  • I always love reading the answers to the Real Deal feature. While I may not always agree with how my colleagues might handle something, it always is good to see issues from many angles, and sometimes I realize I can do better in handling things myself. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I love reading your stories on PETS+, but I wanted to share my thoughts and tips on the crucial role and challenges faced by independent pet stores in 2024. In 2024, independent pet stores continue to play a crucial role in the pet industry, offering personalized service, niche products, and a sense of community to pet owners. However, they face several trends and challenges: 1. Online competition: Independent pet stores are competing with online retailers, which offer convenience and often lower prices. To combat this, many independent stores are investing in their online presence, offering e-commerce platforms, and implementing omnichannel strategies to provide a seamless shopping experience. This strategy has proven effective for us. 2. Focus on health and wellness: Pet owners are increasingly seeking high-quality, natural and sustainable products for their pets. Independent stores are capitalizing on this trend by curating their product offerings to include premium and organic pet food, supplements and wellness products. 3. Pet services: Offering services such as grooming, day care and training has become a significant revenue stream for independent pet stores. By providing these services, we can differentiate ourselves from larger competitors and build stronger relationships with customers. 4. Community engagement: Independent pet stores have an advantage in building a sense of community among pet owners. Hosting events, partnering with local rescue organizations and participating in community outreach programs can help strengthen customer loyalty and attract new business. 5. Supply chain disruptions: Like many other industries, pet stores have been impacted by supply chain disruptions caused by global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Independent stores are navigating challenges such as product shortages, shipping delays and fluctuating prices. 6. Regulatory compliance: Keeping up with regulations related to pet food safety, labeling and animal welfare can be challenging for independent pet stores. Staying informed and ensuring compliance with industry standards is essential to maintaining trust and credibility with customers. Overall, while independent pet stores face various challenges, they also have unique opportunities to thrive by leveraging their strengths in personalized service, community engagement and niche product offerings. Adaptability, innovation and a focus on customer satisfaction are key factors for success in the dynamic pet retail landscape of 2024. — Victor Santucci, Garden State Pet Center, Audubon, NJ
  • Trying to keep up with all the shows and hiring. It’s been a busy year so far! — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • I’d love to hear what other Indies use to be successful marketing beyond their current customer base. Things that reach out to the larger population to draw more organic foot traffic. — Becci Scott, The Fetching Dog, Scottsdale , AZ
  • Thanks for all you do. PETS+ is one of my favorite publications to read. — Jennifer Guevin, Holistic For Pets, Bradenton , FL
  • Still surprised at the few offerings (discounts) manufacturers and distributors are giving at their shows. At times, it’s like why should I go to a show … ? — Ruth Sturgis Dog Daze, North Syracuse, NY
  • There was a thread a month or so ago about Facebook monetization. I am still not really getting the hang of it, and I would love more info on how other stores are doing it. I know it will never be a really big money maker for me, but I am interested in trying. — Susan Nagel-Rees, Winky’s Pet Boutique , Chester, NJ
  • Thank you for all you do! — Diedra Giles, Reeses Barkery and Pawtique, Mchenry, IL
  • As a long-time store owner, it often seems that things come round robin so to speak, be it ideas or products that were too soon for their time. Case in point, the popularity of toppers in powders was something that we sold years ago then the company we got them from decided to change their focus, and now that is what we sell lots of from their now competitors. — April Wright, The Dog and Cat , Essex Jct, VT
  • Love reading your magazine as it helps keep me informed about new and exciting products and industry trends. Thanks for all you do! — Victor Santucci, Garden State Pet Center, Audubon, NJ
  • We have been noticing a creeping effect of the cost of goods from our distributors. Lately I have noticed two distributors we deal with have been raising prices of goods, 1 to 5 cents on items often. My software has the ability to track every increase in product costs, and I am starting to notice a trend. — Paul Lewis, The Green K9, Eustis , FL
  • When I first got into this industry about seven years ago, I took a full pet nutrition course and was blown away by what I learned about vets’ lack of knowledge in this area. One of the items covered was how “prescription” dog food was bogus, and now we’re seeing the headlines on the class-action lawsuit against Hill’s for just that reason. I’m interested to see where this goes. — Erin Paitrick, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Summerville & Moncks Corner, Summerville, SC
  • We’re still looking for a resource to sell our “dud” items to. None of them are actually bad products (think Ruffwear). They just didn’t align with our customer base. — Julie Johannes, Happy Hounds Pet Supply, Bigfork, MT
  • You are doing a great job! I appreciate all of the info you put out every month. — Jennifer Moore Baker Grateful, Dog Bakery, North Ridgeville, OH
  • Love to read the stories and see what other stores are doing. — Dennis Gingrich, Puppers & Hairballs, Sebring, FL
  • As always, thank you so much for sharing all your hard work! — Diane Mullen, Winni Paw Station, Wolfeboro, NH
  • You guys are great. Keep up the great work. — Pat Schiek, Lucky Dogs Canine Services, Skaneateles, NY
  • I am curious as to how Amazon is able to stock Pro Plan Vet diets when they (to my knowledge) do not have vets on staff to approve prescriptions. If they are authorized to sell, why aren’t indies? — Cassie Nilsson, The Mill Stores, Whiteford, MD
  • Love the magazine!! — Karley Eash, Nilla’s Tub DIY Dog Wash & Health Food Store, Normal, IL
  • I share many PETS+ stories with the entire team! I find them helpful for all. — Claudia Loomis, CB Pet Market, Washington, NJ
  • All is well and holding strong! Thanks for doing what you do! — Kimberly Gatto, The Wagging Tail Pet Grocery & Supply, Las Vegas, NV
  • Thank you for all you do!! Carly Buswell, Cosmo’s Cuts Pet Grooming Boutique, Swanton, VT
  • It was refreshing to see the survey reporting an uptake in consumers wanting to shop brick-and-mortar. — Janet Cesarini, Pupology, Georgetown, TX
  • LOVE Y’ALL! — Samantha Youngblood, Youngblood’s Natural Animal Care Center and Massage, Wilkinson, IN
  • I feel like I’ve been in a distracted rut since the beginning of the year. I’m ready for inspiration and growth again! — Paige Elder, Buzz N’ B’s Aquarium and Pet Shop, Erie, PA
  • Love all the stories and glad we have access to them. — Dennis Gingrich, Puppers & Hairballs, Sebring, FL
  • I really enjoy your stories and the info on the products. I don’t get out much, so the info really helps me out a lot. — Lesli Miller, Delilah’s Pet Shop, Bloomington, IN
  • There are things that don’t apply to me or my store directly or at the time, but so often I find pearls of wisdom that come to me later that I can use in a new or different circumstance. I do love the section asking store owners how they would handle different situations. — Beth Kidd, Dogs By Design, Irwin, PA
  • Love hearing about new products. — Lesli Miller, Delilah’s Pet Shop, Bloomington, IN
  • Thank you for all that you do for us. You are appreciated very much. Love to see the content from other stores. Gives us plenty of ideas!! — April Meier, Pawsitively Scrumptious, Crestview, FL
  • I noticed a lot of pet parents look for vegan and plant-based treats and snacks for their pets. — Penny Frazier, Earthwise Pet — Seabrook, Seabrook, NH
  • Keep the great stuff coming. — Amber Sutfin, Pet Wants South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Keep up the great work! We love y’all! — Theresa Sexton, For Healthy Pets, Wetumpka, AL
  • My best ideas come to me in the shower. I tell my husband and staff all the time that is where the best ideas start. I think it’s where my brain clears. — Cindy Samartino, Wiggle Butt & Whiskers, Leesburg, VA



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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