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Do You Or Don't You

Readers Weigh Pros and Cons of Renting Vs. Buying

Do you own the building where your business is located?

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Yes: 28%

  • Prior to owning a pet industry business, I was a highly successful real estate agent —still am. Owning real estate allows you to control one of the largest expenses you have in your business. You can refinance, you can rent a portion (if you buy the right piece) to add additional value to your business, and you don’t have to worry about what the landlord thinks of what you are doing. The best part is (assuming you finance your property), your rent goes down when paid off! When paid off, I can do better things for my customers and employees and even keep some more money for me! Rent will never do this. — Sal Salafia, Exotic Pet Birds Inc., Webster, NY
  • I am building equity for myself and not someone else. Even if I sell the business someday, I can keep the building for rental income. In my area it is less expensive to own than it is to rent. The previous tenants could have purchased my building five times for what they paid in rent over the years. YIKES! — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • I own my buildings under a separate LLC. This protects the liability of our company in the event that an accident happens on site. — Sandy Wolff, AGsentials & AgVenturefeeds.com, Watkins, MN
  • I am fortunate to be able to own my facility. I don’t think that my operation would even be half as impressive if I wasn’t able to speak about the amazing mechanicals, floor systems, drainage, soundproofing, cleaning systems, etc. … all of which combat smell and ensure cleanliness to our discriminating clients. The investments I made in these good systems could not have been incorporated into a building that I did not own. — Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT

No: 72%

  • I do not own my business property but it would probably be less costly to own rather than renting. Property ownership investment in California is nearly always a great investment. However; commercial property here is very spendy! — Leel Michelle, Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe, San Diego, CA
  • Wish we would have bought but early on, it wasn’t feasible. Twenty-five years later … renting has been a constant headache due to lack of attention by the owner … snow removal, parking, potholes, flooding. If we owned, we’d have complete control over the physcial property. — Karen Conell, The Bark Market, Delavan, WI
  • My goal in the next two years is to own my own building. — Deborah Schweikardt, Arizona Bird Store, Mesa, AZ
  • I like the fact that I can concentrate on my business and my landlord takes care of the building. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • Although owning my own property would have some perks and some stability, if I needed to change the store location for some reason, renting has its perks as well. It also means for myself that I can avoid mission creep and concentrate on my business. — Jack Carey, Amoskeag Pet Supply, Manchester, NH
  • I would love to own my building as then it becomes an asset in which it builds wealth over time, I can write off interest on the mortgage payments, and as part of an exit strategy, I can always lease the building. — Christine Dixon, Wiggles and Walks Pet Care, Charlotte, NC
  • I don’t know that property ownership is in the plans for any of our locations. It would probably make sense, as most repairs or improvements are up to us anyway! — Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pet Products, Nashville, TN
  • Personally I do not like renting. My dad used to say renting is like throwing money in the toilet. While I hate to think of it this way, I am not making any investment while throwing money to my landlord. You also don’t have control of your destiny. When the landlord says it’s time to go, sells the building or is tired of having your type of business in his facility, you’re out of luck. — Kristina Robertson, Barkley Square Pets, Falls Church, VA
  • Ownership advantages: control, prioritizing maintenance/refurbishments, no rent to pay Disadvantages: need large cash reserves for large maintenance/refurbishment projects, all the problems are YOURS, how soon can you sell if you need to? — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We are in a Main Street shopping district where the buildings are all owned by a couple of landlords. I love my location, which wouldn’t be nearly as good if I had to own versus lease. While the idea of ownership is appealing in some ways — especially if I could have more space and a indoor/outdoor dog park plus tubs — the town we are in has basically no opportunity for that sort of endeavor, so I see us as being perpetual lessees. Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • We decided to open our stores in malls … basically because hardly anyone else does this, and with all the competition out there, you have to be different. Having a store in the mall makes us both a destination and an impulse shopping experience. Being in a mall also provides us with increased foot traffic and security. A disadvantage of being in the mall is that it’s not a place that is conducive to carrying large bags of dog food. But that’s OK — we make up with HUGE variety of treats with a purpose and a HUGE assortment of general merchandise you don’t usually find in the big-box stores. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Roslyn, PA
  • The biggest disadvantage is the increase in fees associated with the upkeep of the property. Each year, and with the somewhat regular sale of the complex to a new investment firm, the fees change and almost always means an increase in our dues. — Jennifer Sutphen, Petland, Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • It is a simple concept. I’m in the retail business, not the real estate business. The ever present possibility of being forced to relocate when my lease is up doesn’t bother me because I am focused on building my brand reputation and creating a loyal customer base. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 11 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Do You Or Don't You

Have You Ever Moved Your Business? Here’s What Our Brain Squad Says

63% have never moved their business.

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Yes: 37%

  • More space … more visibility. Customers gladly accepted it since it was only about 2 miles from our previous location. — Frank Frattini, The Hungry Puppdy, Farmingdale, NJ
  • The motivation for moving my business was to expand (add a bakery and more retail space.) The building owner was selling the building and therefore would not extend a long lease. It went over well with clients. I sent them newsletters, posted big signs in my old windows directing to the new location, and posted on social media. Tip 1: Use your local city agencies to see if you are eligible for a store front improvement programs, discounted programs through your utility company and more. It’s takes longer but results in HUGE savings! Tip 2: Especially for groomers … before you negotiate your lease, ask if there is HOT WATER. — Leel Michelle, Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe, San Diego, CA
  • We have moved twice. In some ways, it is almost like starting a new business each time. No matter that you shout it to the rooftops, you will have people pull up and rattle the door as you are packing. Best thing we did was put signs in the window of the old location to tell people where we went. — Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Grafton, WI
  • When we added the coffee shop we moved from a 1,500-square-foot location to a 3,000-square-foot space. Thankfully, it was only across the street. I created a “Wheel of Fortune” board each day for the two weeks preceding the move and had our followers guess letters. I “turned over” a new letter each day until our new name and addition of the coffee shop was revealed. Then I let them know the address. It was a fun way to get their attention and keep them following us. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • We moved the business about 100 yards south to double the size with much better parking. It was easier for customers to find us. We told them over a 3-month time period using Facebook, our monthly newsletter and word of mouth. We gained customers right from the opening. — Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL
  • By moving one block away, we were able to cut our rent by more than half. We did not lose customers. — Jack Carey, Amoskeag Pet Supply, Manchester, NH
  • Grew out of old space. Customers all accepted the move (but it was less than half a mile from the original location). We sent email blasts, used social media and had signs up all over the old location. Also, we shared on the phone when customers called. — Myra Tsung, Camp Kitty, Decatur, GA
  • We moved from one location in New Jersey to a more rural location. The customers from our former area followed us. We used social media and email to let everyone know when we moved, which was in late 2012. — Jacqueline Levy, Cross Keys K9, Williamstown, NJ
  • We started telling customers about 30 days prior to the move in July 2018. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I believe it will pay off. — Janelle Pitula, Wags to Whiskers, Plainfield, IL
  • We moved from a poor location — we were a destination location at that time — about seven years into business, to a great location right on the main road through our town, and our business literally doubled over night. We rented a portable sign with the address of our new location that sat at our old business location for two months. Plus, we told customers the entire month previous to the move that we were moving. If you have the opportunity to improve your location, do it! The greater investment (yes, it was scary) was 200 percent worth it. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • We moved from a warehouse to a storefront five years ago. When I realized people were finding us in a warehouse area, I realized if we moved to a storefront business would only go up. Our client base is much larger now. — Debbie Brookham, Furry Friends Inc., Colorado Springs, CO
  • We were lucky enough to move into a larger location less than 3 miles away from our first store. We notified our customers in-store, online, via email and through advertising. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • We moved twice in 10 years, both times to get away from unreasonable landlords . If I had to do it over again, I would buy my property. I just didn’t know how long we would be in business! — Robert “Jungle Bob” Smith, Jungle Bob Enterprises, Centereach, NY
  • I’ve moved my stores multiple times in order to gain more square footage. Most customers were thrilled, but some, of course, were unhappy. You can never please everyone, especially the customers who expect you to be in their back yard. We started telling customers way ahead of time, put a huge sign on our door, included in our newsletter, website and shared on all of our social media platforms. — Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • I moved from a strip mall that I rented space in to a freestanding location that I purchased. The mortgage was one sixth of the cost compared to the rent I was paying for the worst location in the mall. The smartest thing I’ve done in 30 years in business. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY
  • We’ve had three locations since we first opened. With each move, we gave our customers four-plus months of notice, signage around the store, emails, postcards, front-page newspaper ads and radio commercials. And then once we moved we held grand openings, ribbon-cuttings, open houses adoptions, sales and specials for services. It’s never easy. Each move requires lots of renovations and down time of about 30 to 45 days. We kept our customers updated with photos and news of our progress during that time so they could share in our excitement. Now, we are about six months our from our next and final move. We are preparing our team members before we share the news with our customers. We’ve changed our logo, website, updated our name, business cards etc. in preparation for the move. We are also sending out letters to our customers to help generate excitement with a survey of what they would like to see, services and retail wise, and a chance for them to help us raise funds and be a sponsor with lots of perks. — Sherry Shupe, Fur Baby, Milford, DE

No: 63%

  • We are moving very soon to a much larger location. We will be launching a campaign across social media and sending out email and texts as soon as we have a move date. We will also be having a big grand opening/shop-warming party and invite rescues and others to partner with us to increase our reach. We are way overdue moving to a bigger space due to the owner’s health and not finding the right spot. — Angela Smutny, Swanky Paws Pet Spa, Lawrenceville, GA
  • I love my location and my customers. I have worked hard to build a reputable business and do not have any interest in moving and starting over. — Laura Haupt, Bark & Meow, Tarrytown, NY
  • Our location is absolutely stellar for walk-by traffic. The only things that might get me to move are a bigger unit opening in our center, or a place not too far away that would be able to affordably house retail and an indoor dog park. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You

81% of Businesses Collect Data on Their Customers. Here’s How They Do It

Do you collect customer data?

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Yes: 81%

  • We have an in-store customer rewards program. We require only the customer name, phone and email to sign up. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • I collect only data needed to provide them with good service and to do my job well for them. Also in case of an emergency info and vet info is needed. — Julie Husa, D Best Pet Sitting, Dallas, TX
  • We have an in-store loyalty program which we ask our customers to join. Joining allows us to keep track of their purchases, which many times helps them should they forget which type of food they last purchased. We provide a generous $5 in store credit for every $100 in purchases. We require only standard contact info…name, phone, email…and we strictly keep al of this info in-house. — Kimberly Barnes, New England Dog Biscuit, Salem, MA
  • Our POS tracks it, we ask everyone at checkout, you need to give email and phone to be part of our loyalty (4 percent cash back), our Shopify website collects and moves to Mail Chimp, we started by using sign up sheets and tons of people took advantage of it to get deals. We send out weekly emails through Mail Chimp with deals, and return is good. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • We ask at checkout. The customer gets a discount for signing up. We track their purchases so they don’t need a receipt to return their purchase, and if they forgot what they bought in the past, we can tell them. And they now get our monthly email loaded with savings. — Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • We sign customers up in our POS system. We offer a rewards program for every dollar they spend they earn one point. Once they reach 500 points they receive an automatic $10 coupon. We ask for name-address-phone number. We rarely have anyone deny giving their info. — Jan A. Hopper, Living Pawsitively, Lafayette, NJ
  • We try. We ask at checkout, but many do not like to give out email addresses. Things like raffles, sign up sheets don’t work very well because people write so fast and sloppy it is hard to read. — Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Grafton, WI
  • We are all about a personal touch, so we ask, “How did you hear about us?” It’s always interesting to hear the way a cousin dog, a veterinarian, a billboard we had ages ago, or a Google search that led a consumer to us. — Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT
  • We set them up in as part of our rewards program through Five Stars. If they want to be part of the rewards program, they are always willing to give you the information, name, street address and email. They automatically receive a coupon for 20 percent off any toy or treat to use within the first two weeks of becoming a member. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • We use Astro for frequent-buyer and monthly emails, so we collect addresses for anyone who wants to receive those, but nothing else. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • We collect email addresses, phone numbers and info about their dog. We do this the old fashioned way — by hand! We have a loyalty program that involves no work on the part of the customer. Customers interested in the program fill out a 3-by-5 card with their information. The card is divided into six sections. Each time the customer makes a purchase they say “I have a card in the drawer.” We enter the purchase in one of the six sections. When all six sections are full, we add up their purchases and give them a gift certificate for 10 percent of their total sales. And, so they don’t lose it or forget to bring it back in, we simply attach it to their card until their next visit. Some folks actually save up their certificates when they want to purchase a high-ticket item or wait for the holiday season … simple, effective, fun! — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Roslyn, PA
  • Our interested applicants for a German Shepherd puppy or dog requires a client questionnaire completed and sent from our website. We look at demographics, type of dog experience they have and to what levels, if any. However, we do not share our customer data with anyone, including the AKC, because our clients may wish to remain anonymous for personal and professional security reasons, government clearances, fragile and/or endangered situations. — Steve La Flamme, Cross Keys K9, Williamstown, NJ

No: 19%

  • I probably should, but I know that I wouldn’t write a newsletter well, and I wouldn’t be timely. Sending out coupons is something that I should do via email, but I just don’t want to be people’s junk email. — Lisa Keppers, Sauk Centre Country Store, Sauk Centre, MN

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You

When Pet Pros Donate, Here’s Where They Put Their Money

Do you donate to charities?

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Yes: 98%

  • We do all different forms such as money, products to local shelters, and groom dogs from shelters to get adopted. I decide mainly just off what hits close to home. — Taylor Gonzalez, Three Tails Parlor and Pantry, Columbia, IL
  • We used to just help any rescue or nonprofit that asked us, but after three years we have decided to support two or three nonprofits that are important to us. One we donate to year-round is not a dog-related charity at all. My niece has Rett Syndrome, and I am extremely passionate about raising awareness and funds to find a cure for this incredibly horrible disease. — Morgan Moses, Harley’s Bakery, Harrisonville, MO
  • We focus on children in need and pet rescues and service dogs. We have toys created and branded with our logo and donate $3 from each one to different charities. We have done “round up” to rescues, where customers can round up their change. We offer our employees paid time off to go and volunteer. — Lisa Senafe, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Long Grove, IL
  • We donate services via a preloaded gift card. We only donate to charities within the local pet industry, with the exception of one local women’s shelter for domestic abuse. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • We give gift cards, products and sometimes services, like a free self wash or nail trim. We give to 501c3 groups and try to ensure their focus and mission align with ours. We have a donation request form that covers all our rules and restrictions. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • I look for grassroots non profits. Yes, we donate to charities outside of the pet industry. It is important to look after charities that resonate with me. — Alexis Butler, The Dog’s Meow, Salt Lake City, UT
  • We host a Yearly Fundraiser for Puppy Rescue Mission (Soldiers saving Puppies … Puppies saving Soldiers). This is the fourth year we have hosted this event. I also collect food for the local food bank. — Heather Campbell, Bow Wow & Woofs, Blaine, WA
  • I mainly chose to donate to pet-related, local charities. However, I have also donated to specific local charities if it aligns with our core principles. — Kimberly Barnes, New England Dog Biscuit, Salem, MA
  • We donate money to avian organizations, one local and one national. We work closely with the local zoo and give discounts for them. The local museums we help with the few birds that they have and also give presentations regularly. Presentations are also made to schools, libraries, Scout troops … at no cost. We do it as an informational thing and do not push the business aspect. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY
  • We have specific events like drawings for free services in order to donate money to Patriot Paws, a Texas organization that trains therapy dogs for military veterans. We also donate money for Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels to help the folks in our community. — Suzanne Locker, ABC Pet Resort & Spa, Willis, TX
  • Normally, we do product donations. Often, we will make gift baskets for raffles. We also donate close-dated and open food to local rescues. — Jess Smith, Chow Hound Pet Supplies-Standale, Walker, MI
  • I try to focus mainly on local pet-related charities and give in the form of hosting events (nail trimmings, photo days, etc.) where all of the proceeds go to the nonprofit. When I donate items, it’s usually gift certificates for the self-service dog wash, because there is less cost for me involved in that. I also try to donate to charity events if a regular customer is asking on their behalf. — Jennifer Silverberg, Fetch Pet Supplies, Springfield, MO
  • We donate product (dog and cat food) to the Family Promise organization in our county. This feeds the pets of the homeless. This takes all of our resources to achieve. We do take out advertisements in children’s programs in schools, but we take that out of our advertising budget. — Bonnie Bitondo, Maxwell & Molly’s Closet, Newton, NJ
  • We generally donate products to local charities, but we have held events where funds raised have been delivered to local rescue groups. We sometimes choose them by customer recommendations or because we’ve worked with the group before. If there is a charity that is in need and can benefit from what we have to offer, we will donate regardless of whether they are in the pet industry. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • I host fundraisers for several rescues that are in my area. There is great synergy when you work with these groups. They promote you in all their media and in-house. As a business, it shows you care about more than just your business. It’s a wonderful option to bring into your business if you don’t already have it in your business plan. — Kristina Robertson, Barkley Square Pets, Falls Church, VA
  • Cats n Dogs donates to pet charities in the form product and time. About six years ago we had to limit donations to pet only. Just can’t give to every organization that barks at your door. — Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL
  • We have chosen to only donate to organizations that benefit pets or a cause that our employees support and ask us to donate to. We often make gift baskets for raffles or will donate gift cards for our store. — Nicole Olesen, Woofs & Waves, Sioux Falls, SD
  • We foster with a rescue group and cover almost all of the costs of that. We also work closely with a nonprofit that works with domestic violence victims and provide a greatly discounted boarding rate and often cover some of the cost of food. We also donate to several other local animal-focused nonprofits or sponsor events they hold. — Myra Tsung, Camp Kitty, Decatur, GA
  • We are thrilled to be working with the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital as they have recently acquired their first service dog for patients receiving physical rehabilitation. We have provided their staff with tools and ideas to use with patient care. We also work with Jefferson’s thrift shop offering up our retailing expertise to help them grow. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Roslyn, PA
  • We groom dogs for the local shelter once a week, and we also groom dogs for rescue groups twice a month. We donate seasonal toys that are not sold during their season to the rescue groups. — Carlos Carrizo, Alta Pet Center, Upland, CA
  • I will donate to anyone who asks. Sometimes it is just something small, like a gift certificate for our self-serve wash and sometimes we have entire fundraising events for a single charity where we donate 20 percent of our sales for the day to the charity. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • We get lots of last-minute requests for support of local school and nonprofit sports organizations. I plan our budget a year in advance and let them know to come earlier next year. We try to support the elementary, middle and high schools closest to our location. We offer the opportunity for those seeking fundraising support to offer a dog wash. A group can offer a celebrity dog washer (mayor, football coach, newscaster, etc.) at a higher fee, and we give the entire amount of that extra service to the group. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We donate to local rescues throughout the year through adoption events we have with them monthly. (We rotate rescues.) We also host two adopt-a-thons each year in our parking lot so any local rescue can come out, set up a booth and interact with the community. — Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • Based on an incident that happened to me last year, I try to donate to GoFundMe causes, as I have realized just how important the funds are from needing the help myself. So many people came together to help me during my time of need — a lot of individuals that I’ve never even met — and I want to be there for others just as much. — Jen Kanzenbach, Beans ’N Bones, Green Bay, WI
  • There are so many nonprofit organizations that need and ask for donations that I had to have a clear focus so I wouldn’t give all my profits away. I focus on rescue groups, our local shelters and local schools. I give gift cards, gift baskets, participate in fundraisers, buy tickets, and the biggest and most rewarding was the sale of a 15 passenger airport shuttle bus with all proceeds going to the Willamette Humane Society and Salem Dogs. The bus was given to me, I got it running and sold with with the intention of donating the proceeds. — Terri Ellen, Nature’s Pet Market, Salem, OR
  • I make donations in multiple forms. The easiest are monetary donations, and donations of products. For example, a gift basket for a silent auction that contains a bag of treats a toy, and a branded item such as a magnet or sticker with our name and logo or store motto. I also always include a gift card, because that will encourage the recipient of the gift to come into the store. Honestly, these donations are not completely altruistic. We also donate our space and host adopt-a-thons and various fundraisers. The rarest donation I make is with my time, and I only do so with charities that I have a very strong connection to. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • We donate products, gift certificates, plan events or participate in events to support our local SPCA, several selected smaller pet rescues and several community charities that are have nothing to do with dogs but gain a lot of visibility to our store. I choose dog related charities that have a mission I believe in… and that have large followers on their social media and are willing to promote or cross-promote events on their channels. I give for the joy of giving but it costs them nothing to give back by allowing our business to be mentioned to their followers. The charities outside the business I choose because I’m confident that the money actually goes to people who need it vs. paying corporate salaries. I also consider how visible they are to the community and their social media reach. My suppliers are great about letting me know if there are larger lots of pet food or supplies that are coming into past sell-by dates and I get a good deal on product which I can then donate to whoever is in need. We always count “per pound” and take pictures of our making the delivery. It makes a good promotion for our business. — Pattie Boden, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA

No: 2%

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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