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Retailers Share Concerns Over Rising Minimums and Private Equity

In the Sep-Oct Inbox, readers offer fresh praise for PETS+ and express concerns about the industry.

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Fresh Praise

  • The “Help Given” article [Sep-Oct 2023] showed that we true indies (single location and very small chains) are genuinely interested in supporting each other, so that our type of business can continue to grow and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The PETS+ community is such a great collection of supportive and knowledgeable folks, and I really appreciate everyone who takes the time and energy to share their expertise. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • Loved the food punch card vs. standard loyalty card idea from America’s Coolest Loyl’s! [“The Ideal,” Sep-Oct 2023] — Liz Harris, Creatures Featured, Madison, FL
  • I love reading about other stores and what they are doing. It always generates new ideas I can tailor to our locations. It’s even more fun when I travel and get to visit a store or store owner I’ve read about! — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • Love everything in the magazine! It’s good to know what others are selling and having success with. [Hot Sellers] — Karley Eash, Nilla’s Tub DIY Dog Wash & Health Food Store, Normal, IL
  • The PETS+ October Sample Box was amazing! Boxes just get better and better! Additionally, having a forum where retailers can speak freely is awesome! — Julie Sterling, Julz Animal Houz, Marysville and Burlington, WA
  • I suddenly have a lot of change happening with my staff, when I usually don’t have much. Super fortunate, I know! It’s been really stressful, and sometimes just reading tidbits from the magazine and ebulletin help me keep my mind on the bigger picture and not panic as much. — Paige Elder, Buzz n’ B’s Aquarium & Pet Shop, Erie, PA

Ongoing Concerns

  • I would love to know if it’s just our stores that are down. I don’t believe so because even drivers are saying they’re delivering a lot less to local stores. — Keith Zeiler, Paws on Chicon, Austin, TX
  • Does anyone have concerns that customers have now learned to shop online (order once and autoship forever)? How do we get around it when great customer service isn’t enough? — Loree Shirazi, Paw Pleasers, San Diego, CA
  • I think all business owners need training in identifying psychological issues in customers and clients. Just knowing that the rage, etc. could be a psych issue is important. Not to weaponize it, but to help the person make it through an interaction, using strategies that also could help with team retention … not just leave it a mystery as to why this person unloaded. — Cristen Carlson, Riverside Animal Clinic Feed Store, McHenry, IL
  • All the mergers are making it hard as an independent store to keep up with the changes. I know it’s a part of growth, but it often seems that I just get a new product to start selling for my store, then the company gets bought out and half the product is no longer available. — April Wright, The Dog And Cat, Essex Jct, VT
  • Many distributors just announced increased minimums. While this doesn’t hurt medium and large stores, it’s killing us small stores that have to buy from multiple distributors. I used to be able to buy from one, but then manufacturers leave for other distributors and those distributors demand exclusivity. Again, none of this hurts larger stores. What are small retailers supposed to do? I truly do not believe these distributors care about us anymore. — Nicoll Vincent, For K-9s &
    Felines, Westfield, MA
  • As an indie pet store owner, looking to expand to multiple community-focused stores, I have been beat out repeatedly by private equity firms scooping up indie pet stores! What’s with this trend? They are overpaying, and it worries me that we’ll start to lose our indie focus if this pattern continues. — Tina Favara, Wood Pet Supply, Hampton, NH

Congrats!

  • We are expanding our freezer section again. It’s the only segment, other than supplements, that we are investing in for this last quarter of the year. The demand is there! — Karen Conell, The Bark Market, Delavan, WI
  • As inflation continues to be a tough thing to combat, especially for indies, I have found myself looking for special deals from distributors and/or specific brands. I’ve had some luck, and I’m trying to buy on special deals and pass the savings to my customers! Even if the product is not the same brand/flavor they usually buy, I have been able to get customers to try something new because I’m offering deals! It has helped them try something new for their pet and has saved them money! — Bill Huffor, Furry Friends Inc, Colorado Springs, CO

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At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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