Pet Club looks to attract customers from Wal-Mart, Petco - East Valley Tribune: Business

Pet Club looks to attract customers from Wal-Mart, Petco

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Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2005 5:39 am | Updated: 10:16 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A pet food and supplies store opening in downtown Mesa hopes to steal customers from retail giants Petco, PetsMart and Wal-Mart.

Pet Club will be opening next week on the northeast corner of Country Club Drive and West First Avenue. Business partners Tim Stevenson and Tim Noland are opening the store, and have been in the retail and wholesale feed business for the past several years in the East Valley.

"There’s no PetsMart or Petco around here," Stevenson said. "We’ll be competing with them and Wal-Mart. We’ll have everything from holistic, to every kind of dog and cat food."

There’s plenty of room in the pet food and supplies market for another small, independent store, said David Lockwood, senior editor of Mintel Reports. Mintel International Group is an industry research firm.

Supermarkets still lead in pet food and supplies sales, but this is the only sector of the market that’s losing ground, Lockwood said.

"Most channels are doing well except for supermarkets," he said. "The trend that we see that overarches everything else is the humanization of pets. What an independent can bring that a supermarket can’t bring is knowledge and a friendly face. People are spending a lot more time in the aisle for pet food and supplies than for most other products, and they’re interested in a much wider range of products."

Pet Club will include a small retail section in the front and a warehouse in the back. The business will handle sales to individual consumers and other feed stores.

"This was the only place we could find where rent is cheap and we can store all of the dog foods," Stevenson said. "We figured if we’re here, we might as well open the front up to (individual shoppers) because there’s no one around. We’re just wanting PetsMart, Petco and Wal-Mart’s customers. We’ll save them money."

Stevenson said Pet Club will be able to charge less than the chain retailers because he and Noland won’t need to mark up their prices as much to cover expenses such as rent.

"We have our warehouse . . . but we don’t have a 20,000-square-foot, brand-new building that we have to pay $20,000 a month on, and they do," he said.

Also, customers will be able to buy pet food in larger quantities than they can at the retail chains, Stevenson said.

"Here, someone can buy more than four bags," he said. "At PetsMart, they’ve

got four bags on the shelf and that’s it. And if they’re out, they’re out. If people come in here and want something, from grooming supplies to a pallet of dog food, we’ll have it."

Despite the prevalence of large retailers, there are still many small, independent pet food and supply stores across the East Valley.

"The pet food and supplies industry has been growing quite a bit faster than most other types of products that we call consumer packaged goods," Lockwood said. "It’s been growing 5 percent to 6 percent per year for the last four years. The retail channels that are growing are really quite spread out."

According to Mintel, Petco and PetsMart increased their market share from 19 percent to 23 percent between 1998 and 2003. Mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart also have been successful in attracting pet owners with a rapidly rising number of stores, and lowpriced food and supplies.

National retail sales of pet food and supplies rose 12 percent from 1998 to 2003, while sales are expected to increase by another 12 percent through 2008. Total sales should move from $19 billion to just below $24 billion.

Stevenson and Noland look forward to grabbing their share of local pet food and supplies sales with Pet Club.

"When everybody starts talking about the prices, people will start coming in like crazy," Stevenson said.

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