I was driving around the neighborhood the other day, and it seemed as though there was a pet store on just about every block! Being of a naturally curious mindset, I set about doing some vigorous Googling, and I discovered that about 70% of American households have one or more pets – as opposed to a mere 41% of households that have children! We’re not spending money on kids (or even having kids!) the way we used to – in 1982, for instance, 61% of households had one or more children. Pets were still pretty close, though, with 56% of households having at least one pet. How did we end up this way?
Well, it probably has a lot to do the fact that we have, overall, an aging population. Right now, people ages 55-59 represent the second largest demographic in the United States, comprising 11.31% of the population (obviously not of reproductive age, at least where women are concerned). The second highest demographic is those ages 25-29, comprising 11.47% of the population. This demographic is of reproductive age but the thing is, they’re not reproducing!
What does this mean? Well, among other things, it probably means that you shouldn’t give a “funny look” to someone who tells you “My dogs are my children.” It also means that people aren’t spending money on kids the way they used to, since they’re not having them the way they used to!
Doodles Needs a Sweater!
Unless you’ve named your child “Doodles,” I’m thinking that when you looked at this sub-header, you smiled and thought to yourself, “That’s a cute dog name!” And that you’re the type of person who is more likely to be buying a sweater for your “Doodles” than for your human child.
If that’s the case, you’re in good company. In 2018, people spent an estimated $72.13 billion dollars on pets and pet accessories.
I wasn’t able to find a similar figure on children, but I worked it out based on a figure of $233,610 to raise a child for a year, and a figure of 74,000,000 children in the United States in 2018. I arrived at a figure of just over 17 billion dollars spent on children.
So, we’re not spending money on kids – we’re spending on pets! No wonder pet stores are doing such big business.
Children’s clothing stores are on the decline throughout the United States – down by 4.5%. By contrast, the number of pet stores nationwide is trending upward by 2.8%. Those figures tell you pretty much all you need to know about where Americans are spending their money these days. We’re spending money on pets, not kids.
Where are We Shopping?
So where, exactly, are we spending money on our pets? As I’ve suggested, pet stores are pretty ubiquitous, but does it seem to you as though you see the same stores on every block?
You’re probably right.
Consider this – PetSmart has 16,565 stores across North America. 24 more pet stores, with all their outlets taken together, have a total, all across North America, combined, of 4,559 stores. In other words, PetSmart has about 12,000 more stores than ALL other pet stores combined!So, if you’re seeing a pet store on your block, there’s a good chance it’s probably a PetSmart outlet.
Of course PetSmart isn’t the only retailer, just the one with the largest share of the market. Does that mean that they’re the best pet store? Not necessarily – and you’ll learn more about that when we get to the reviews. It just means that they’re the biggest retailer.
A Note on the Reviews
In the material that follows, I’ll offer information on stores by number of locations, and provide customer ratings based on 1-5 stars, with the results taken from various sites when possible. Sometimes I’ve been unable to provide fair and accurate ratings, since the results are based on individual stores, and not the company overall. When this is the case, I’ll tell you.
Where possible, I have also included a sampling of customer comments. In some cases, I’ve paraphrased. In others, I have edited, mostly for brevity, spelling, punctuation and grammar, and also in order to improve readability. In some cases, I’ve offered my take on the comments, and in those instances, for clarity, my comments appear in italic.
In some instances, comments were not available, and I have had to simply offer the star ratings.
Let me make clear at the outset, I am not recommending any particular pet store over another. I am also not going to tell you where I shop, and where I will never shop. Regular readers may be able to make an educated guess, based on some of my previous posts, but for purposes of this entry I think it’s important to keep my personal biases to myself. I may offer comments on specific experiences, though.
So, without further ado, here are 25 pet store statistics, and analysis based on consumer experience.
1. PetSmart – 16565 Stores
When it comes to pet stores, as I’ve already suggested, PetSmart is a veritable juggernaut, with well over 16,000 stores across North America, employing about 56,000 people. In addition to pets and pet supplies, PetSmart also offers services like boarding, training, boarding, grooming, a pet adoption program and their Doggie Day Camp. Some PetSmart locations even offer full-service pet hospitals, in partnership with Banfield Pet Hospital®, and to get you and your pet off to a good start, as a new client your first veterinary examination is free.
In response to public pressure, PetSmart no longer offers puppies and kittens for sale. Instead, they partner with various animal welfare organizations to encourage pet adoption. According to their website, PetSmart has encouraged 8,000,000+ adoptions.
Surprisingly, Consumer Affairs gives PetSmart an “overall satisfaction rating” of just one star out of a possible 5. This is based on 81 ratings.
Here is what consumers had to say.
Carol from Pacific, Washington
Carol says that PetSmart has a great selection, but she can usually find cheaper food of the brand she wants at various online stores. She still goes to PetSmart, though, especially for “last minute” needs.
Nonie from Greenbelt, Maryland
Nonie likes the groomers at PetSmart, and finds that the cashiers are helpful and friendly. However, one time the groomer didn’t show up for her appointment, and cashiers aren’t always available. Nonie thinks that her PetSmart store needs to hire more people.
Brenda from Chicago Heights, Illinois
Brenda loves what she calls the “pet boldness” at PetSmart. She appreciates being able to take her pet into the store with her, and wishes that other pet stores would catch up on this trend.
Robert from Georgetown, Texas
Robert really appreciates the cleanliness of the PetSmart store he shops at, and says that the staff are invariably friendly. He finds the prices a bit on the high side, but points out that “everything is high, no matter where you go.”
Corina from Delray Beach, Florida
Corina needed a cat carrier to bring her cat back from the vet. The workers at PetSmart helped her to assemble the carrier, but she wasn’t able to have it done early in the morning – she had to go back in the afternoon.
Jan from Newport Beach, California
Jan takes her dog to PetSmart to be groomed, and says that they do “a good job for a reasonable price.” However, her PetSmart location does not carry her preferred dog food brand. She also finds the prices for food and supplies a bit on the high side.
Peter from Raleigh, North Carolina
Peter finds the PetSmart associates to be friendly and knowledgeable. He’s on the same side as Jan, though, when it comes to pricing – he thinks the prices are “somewhat higher than they should be.”
Robert from Burney, California
Robert feeds his Schnauzer Pro Plan, and buys it at PetSmart. Sometimes, though, his PetSmart location is out of the varieties that Robert and his dog prefer.
Lisa from Doddridge, Arkansas
Lisa tries to avoid PetSmart, because she doesn’t believe that any animals should be sold in pet stores. When she does have to go to PetSmart, she avoids the aisles occupied by birds, reptiles, and other small creatures. She does, however, appreciate PetSmart’s efforts to place rescued companion animals.
Nataly from North Bergen, New Jersey
Nataly is not all that impressed with her PetSmart store. She says that one of the managers “needs attitude readjustment,” and it’s difficult to get your pet groomed if you don’t request the express service. She also finds that they often don’t have much in stock in the way of pet apparel.
Jean from Naples, Florida
Jean made a grooming appointment for her dog, which is part Yorkshire Terrier. When she arrived, she found that her dog had been booked as a Shih Tzu. She was quoted $49 for the job, but was told on arrival that she would have to pay more because it was the weekend. The person taking the booking had not informed Jean of the extra charge.
I don’t see the mistake as to breed as a biggie. However, it seems to me that having quoted a price, the store should have honored it.
Lynda from Milwaukie, Oregon
Lynda finds the atmosphere at her PetSmart location to be “subdued” and “not very friendly or appealing.” She also says the customer service is lacking, and they’re often out of stock on items that she frequently purchases. She does say that they’re very good at grooming, though.
Nancy from London, Ontario (Canada)
Nancy says that she collected PetSmart points on their loyalty card for many years, and then found out that her points were no longer valid. She was told that it was because “the system didn’t work well.” Now, in order to collect points, she has to give her phone number at the cash. She doesn’t like giving her phone number in public, and is upset that she can no longer benefit from the loyalty program. She won’t be shopping at PetSmart anymore.
David from Prescott, Arizona
David says that the inventory control at PetSmart is “awful.” They run out of his brand regularly, and he “can’t just switch brands overnight.” He buys his dog food through Amazon now, because “they don’t run out of inventory.”
Rachel from Akron, Ohio
Rachel is a fish owner, and when she went to PetSmart to get “feeders” for her carnivorous fish, “half of the tanks had dead fish floating.” The sales associate wasn’t concerned, simply saying “Yeah, it happens,” and showing no inclination to remove the dead fish. Rachel took her business elsewhere.
Amani from Pearland, Texas
Amani took her dog to PetSmart to be groomed. Bella, a Shih Tzu, was nervous, and two and a half hours later Amani got a call saying that Bella couldn’t be groomed because she was too nervous.
I’d give PetSmart a pass on this one. They took a nervous dog, and tried for at least two hours to get the job done.
Daniel from Deerfield, Wisconsin
Daniel says that the grooming department at his PetSmart location is “the worst.” He has to travel some distance to get to PetSmart, and a number of times he’s been unable to have the dog groomed because of problems like employee no-shows, no heat in the store, or because he was 15 minutes late for his 3-hour grooming session.
Okay, I am one of those people who is never late. But I’m not unreasonable, and I can tolerate people being maybe five minutes late. 15 minutes is too much. As to the other issues, I think PetSmart should have enough staff that if one doesn’t show, someone else is there to pick up the slack. As far as the heating goes, hey, stuff happens!
Donna from Swedesboro, New Jersey
Donna dislikes the fact that the cost for grooming at her local PetSmart is higher on the weekends. When she asked for an explanation, she was told that it was because weekends were busier. Donna doesn’t think she should have to pay more because of that.
Morgan from Phoenix, Arizona
Morgan feels that PetSmart is not taking proper care of its lizards. He feels that the geckos are malnourished, with skinny little tails whereas geckos should have “the plumpest of tails.” He also feels that the pamphlets PetSmart offers on gecko care contain inaccurate information.
Jake from Florence, South Carolina
Jake is upset because PetSmart has a policy of not allowing pit bull types and mixes in their Doggie Day Camps. He points out that “breed does not determine…behavior or temperament,” and states that the policy “shows the lack of respect that [they] have for animals.” Jake has been bitten by small dogs, but never by any of the breeds that are not welcome at PetSmart.
2. Petco– 1482 Stores
Petco has locations all across the United States and Puerto Rico, and states that its corporate policy is grounded in the WholePets™ view. They offer various products and services, and represent themselves as going beyond the physical needs of your pet, extending to social, mental and emotional needs as well.
Petco associates are highly trained, able to talk with you about any issues you might have, and to recommend products and grooming options. Petco also offers services like doggie daycare, and in-home pet sitting. Vaccination clinics are also available, and local stores often feature adoption events.
When it comes to the reviews, Petco doesn’t fare much better than PetSmart, also earning a Consumer Affairs overall satisfaction rating of a single star out of a possible 5, based on 72 reviews.
Here’s some input from PetCo customers.
Wendy from San Diego, California
Wendy loves the training classes at Petco, saying “Luis is a fabulous coach,” and “the price is also a win-win.” She points out that other places charge a lot more for training, but that’s not the only reason she’s sticking with Petco. She says that Luis “made a real effort to work with me” and is “really good at training you in a positive way to train your dog.”
Roberta from Staten Island, New York
Roberta likes the selection of grain-free foods at Petco, and finds that staff are invariably helpful and courteous. She also likes the online service, which offers repeat delivery.
Brenda from Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Brenda reports that her dog loves being groomed at Petco. Brenda’s daughter also loves leopard geckos, and finds the staff very knowledgeable when it comes to reptiles.
Ann from Granger, Indiana
Ann loves the groomers at Petco, but isn’t crazy about the prices. She also feels that Petco gets their small animals from “pet mills” and are therefore complicit in animal cruelty.
I haven’t been able to find anything that absolutely confirms or refutes the allegation. Much of the information available online is from PETA, which is not, in my opinion, the most credible source. That said, there may be some merit to the allegation – after all, pet stores ARE “for profit” operations. I’m just not sure.
Paula Jo from Wheeling, West Virginia
Paula Jo likes the huge selection available at Petco, and also appreciates the fact that they have a wide selection of pets available for purchase, along with all the toys and other supplies that you’ll need. The only complaint she has is that the prices are on the high side.
Ellen from Newport News, Virginia
Ellen has nothing bad to say – Petco has helpful, professional associates, and she was able to make her purchase in little time after receiving a lot of useful information. She doesn’t say why this is only a 4-star review, but she has offered no “negatives.”
3 Star Reviews
Sandra from Aurora, Illinois
Sandra bought a kitten from Petco, and discovered a few days later that there was blood in the kitten’s stool. Tests revealed parasites, and Sandra ended up on the hook for veterinary treatment. Her other pets ended up being infested as well.
And you still gave them 3 stars? Why??? There were no positive comments in this review.
Peggy from Kernersville, North Carolina
Peggy finds the prices at Petco considerably higher than at other pet stores, and the selection “minimal.” She also feels that Petco is not all that concerned about the potential dangers of foods and treats that come from China.
Sheri from Portland, Oregon
Sheri keeps birds and fish, and finds that the selection is very limited at Petco. The products were only available in very small sizes, so even though her Petco store is conveniently located, she had to go farther afield to get the products she wanted in the sizes she needed.
2 Star Reviews
Dave from San Ramon, California
Dave says that the Petco website is very difficult to navigate, and he feels that this is a ploy to get consumers to go into their brick-and-mortar stores and pay more than they would if they shopped online. He also dislikes the fact that the online store charges for shipping.
Jo from Orange City, Florida
Jo says that Petco’s prices are “outrageously high,” and because of that, she won’t shop at Petco unless it’s a “dire emergency.” She also says that the customer service is “acceptable” but “certainly is not terrific.”
Mary from Adams, Nebraska
Mary says that she was charged twice for products that she didn’t receive. She also says that the reason she’s giving them 2 stars as opposed to one is that Petco did fix the problem once she complained.
Clarissa from Boscabel, Wisconsin
Clarissa had a fish tank all set up, and went to Petco to buy fish. None of the ones she wanted to buy were available, so she asked for advice on what type of fish to buy. She ended up with a bunch of “fin nippers,” and feels that the associates at Petco need to be a good deal more knowledgeable.
Steve from Metuchen, New Jersey
Steve says that Petco’s call center is the worst, with agents just following a useless script. The reps are “powerless and useless,” and he advises potential customers to “not spend another penny here!!!”
C’mon, Steve, tell us how you REALLY feel!
Cindy from Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Cindy’s son drove to a Petco location 2 hours away to buy a fish tank and some ornaments for the tank. He picked out a nice piece of decorative wood, but found out when he got home that it wasn’t there. Cindy called the manager of the Petco store, who refused to refund the purchase price, or ship the decorative wood – her son would have to drive back to the store to pick it up. Petco customer support’s call center then kept her on hold for more than 20 minutes, and finally informed her that there was nobody with the authority to do anything.
As a former call center worker, I find this totally unacceptable!
3. Pet Valu – 945 Stores
Pet Valu has stores through the north-eastern states and also in Canada. Most Pet Valu franchisees are also pet owners, so one might assume that they understand the importance of the pet in the family unit. According to their website, on of Pet Valu’s store owners is actually the owner of a sled dog team!
The chain represents itself as employing “Pet Experts” who are trained through the University of California’s Davis Extension School, and asserts that their mission is to be a resource for expert advice when it comes to pets and their care.
Pet Valu also prefers a holistic approach, and offers safe solutions for many issues, with products ranging from healthy chews, quality shampoos and supplements, fun and challenging toys, and more. They also offer beds and other products for dogs that are aging or have special needs.
There aren’t all that many reviews out there, but BestCompany.com has given Pet Value a rating of 2.5 stars out of a possible 5, based on 9 reviews. I found only 5 star and 1 star reviews – nothing in between.
Glen (location not available)
Glen bought a cat condo from Pet Valu, and reports that the staff were helpful and friendly. The instructions weren’t all that difficult to follow, but Glen had to put it together himself because he has one of those really fussy cats who react badly to anything that smells of other humans!
Anna, Stratford, Connecticut
Anna would rather not give them any stars. She says that she was offered a 10% discount, but then was told that she’d have to shop at the store at least 3 times before she’d get it. She says, “They are liars!!! Never will go shopping again to this store!!! Not recommend for anyone!!!!!”
Joyce Bickerdike (location not available)
I am going to present this review in its entirety, but without identifying the Pet Valu store. It brought me to tears. If this story is truthful (and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t), then this should never have happened.
It’s August first and at 1AM my dog (Shih Tzu) started choking to death. I had already been to the vet a week ago for this respiratory problem. She was collapsing and I rushed down to the kitchen holding her in my arms to give her a prescribed bronchodilator. She survived this attack but I didn’t sleep the rest of the night for fear of another episode. As soon as the vet opened I rushed her to the hospital. I didn’t care how I looked (no makeup, my paint stained jeans). The vet ordered an antibiotic. On the way home, I stopped at PetValu on [location redacted] to get her some healthy food. At the cash, I put her down for a couple of seconds to pay for the food. (I had been so desperate about her breathing earlier, that I couldn’t find her leash, so I had just put her into the car without one). The clerk, Jessica, yelled out for all staff and customers to hear “Ya might want to bring a leash the next time you come.” It was meant to embarrass and humiliate me. I had had a good feeling about this store prior to this nasty event. I guess my question is, why would this establishment allow this behavior from their employees? Do they not check to see that their employees are empathetic and kind? They are supposed to care, aren’t they? I mean I had carried her throughout the store looking for the food. She couldn’t have been on the floor for more than 30 seconds before this clerk decided to humiliate a person who was already in a fragile state. I will never go in there again for fear of another attack.
Okay, I have no way of verifying this story, but it doesn’t sound like something a person would make up. 30 seconds on the floor and you need a leash for a dog in distress? If this is true, then shame on you, Pet Valu!
Andrea Smith (location not available)
Andrea says that Pet Valu “sucks.” She returned an item, unopened, and instead of getting a refund, was offered only store credit. She tried many times to get a refund and was refused.
Compared to what Joyce Bickerdike went through, I don’t see this as a huge issue. Pet Valu offered store credit, as many stores do. Get over it, Andrea.
4. Pet Supplies Plus – 456 Stores
Pet Supplies Plus is privately owned, and the third biggest specialty food seller in the United States. It’s the brainchild of Jack Berry and Harry Shallop, who wanted to bring the convenience of grocery stores into the world of pet supplies. Stores are owned by franchisees, and the focus is on being a “neighborhood” pet supermarket with a huge selection of pet supplies and foods. Some stores also have livestock departments, self-serve dog washes, and grooming services.
Recently, Pet Supplies Plus was sold to Sentinel Capital Partners, and now has more than 400 stores across the United States. Pets are welcome in the stores, and in fact, most toys and treats are located at low levels so that pets can wander through and choose the toys that they like best!
There are not too many reviews available here, so I’ve taken them from individual stores. It’s just a sampling of reviews, and it’s impossible to give Pet Supplies Plus an overall star review based on the information available.
Jackie from Bridgeport, West Virginia
Jackie likes the variety of products available from Pet Supplies Plus, and says that the employees really go the extra mile to help you find what you want. They’ll even help you take your purchases out and load them in your car!
Claudia from Northport, New York
Claudia says that the staff at Pet Supplies Plus are always helpful, and the store offers a huge selection of holistic pet foods. She also appreciates the fact that the store offers health clinics and grooming, although she doesn’t use those services.
John from Caledonia, Missouri
John says that the Pet Supplies Plus store in his area isn’t as large as what he calls the “big three,” but he finds the experience to be “superior.” Pet Supplies Plus has competitive prices and an incentive program.
Dana from Pinellas Park, Florida
Dana says that the staff at Pet Supplies Plus are always courteous, helpful and friendly, but some are not quite as knowledgeable as others. She finds the selection good, and likes the fact that they have animals for adoption. She also gives a shout-out for the 10% off senior’s day, and points out that if you have one of their rewards cards, you can save even more.
L From Austin, Texas
L says that that the prices aren’t as good as PetSmart, but better than Petco. She also points out that she likes the monthly sales, and the fact that the staff is very friendly.
Dudley from Chicago, Illinois
Dudley says that he doesn’t like the fact that most of the toys at Pet Supplies Plus are from China, and would like to see more American-made toys.
Linda from Long Island, New York
Linda finds the location of her Pet Supplies Plus store convenient, but she only shops there “in a pinch” because she finds the prices a bit high. She prefers another local pet store.
I found no 2 star reviews.
I found no 1 star reviews.
5. Pet Supermarket – 214 Stores
Pet Supermarket places value on three things – your home, your community and your city. They claim to value the same things, and since, as they say, “actions speak louder than words,” they carry this philosophy through in their endeavors to be good corporate citizens. They conduct food and litter drives, shelter fundraisers and adoption events. They also contribute to the US War Dogs Association.
This seems to be a company that really puts its money where its mouth is, having stepped up to the plate during Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma to get supplies and food to people and pets that were in need.
Pet Supermarket also offers veterinary and grooming services, and a VIP program that helps you to earn free washes, food and more.
Here’s what they say: “Really, we just want to see you. Because…well…your pets are super cute and we love when we see their adorable faces! It’s true. We sure don’t have treats and water sitting out for humans!”
Here, I found an average of 2 stars out of a possible 5, at TrustPilot, based on 65 reviews. All of these are 2 stars and 1 star ratings. I found nothing in between.
Shannon Cross (location not available)
Shannon says that the workers at Pet Supermarket were amazing, and they seemed to love to play with the animals. She found treats that her dog loves, but found it hard making the commute to her local Pet Supermarket outlet.
Daniel Meneghin (location not available)
Daniel says that he had a problem with Pet Supermarket, but it was resolved in little time, and he would use them again.
Andrew Charlton (location not available)
Andrew says that he has four Rottweilers, and really likes Pet Supermarket. The service is “awesome” and the food is not expensive. He gets $5 off with every purchase, and every 10th bag free.
I’m not sure why Andrew is only giving Pet Supermarket a 2 star rating. He has no complaints!
Kendra Lula (location not available)
Kendra ordered a flea treatment for her cat, and didn’t receive it. She messaged to say that the order hadn’t arrived, and received no response. She says that she has to re-home her cat because she had no response.
Sorry, Kendra, I do not believe for one minute that you had to re-home your cat because an online retailer failed to send your flea treatment. Why didn’t you just get one locally?
Elizabeth (location not available)
Elizabeth sent an order to Pet Supermarket and was told she’d have it in 3-5 days. Three weeks later, she still hadn’t received her order, and when she tried to track it on line, she got a message saying “invalid code.” She feels that the online service is very poor, and will not order again.
Name Unknown (location unavailable)
Name Unknown reports that she considers the manager of her local Pet Supermarket to be a “know it all” who is more interested in being confrontational than she is with satisfying her customers. The manager interfered with Name Unknown’s interaction with sales staff, and seemed to want to prove that she knew more than Name Unknown.
6. Global Pet Foods – 185 Stores
Global Pet Foods is a Canadian-owned retailer that has been in operation since 1976, with more than 176 stores nation-wide. It’s a franchise-based operation, with a focus on finding franchisees who are also pet owners and who have an incredible level of knowledge when it comes to pet care.
Most Global franchisees are also pet owners, and they have the philosophy of ensuring total well-being and overall health for companion animals.
I was not able to find customer reviews for Global Pet Foods, and had to go, as the next best resort, to reviews from Global Pet Foods employees.
Anonymous Employee #1
#1 says that the store isn’t all that busy, but it’s a good place to work. #1 reports that the manager is a nice person, and the customers are easy to deal with.
Anonymous Employee #2
#2 reports that the store has a relaxed atmosphere, but is a bit claustrophobic. #2 also feels that Global Pet Foods doesn’t have much in the way of opportunities for advancement.
Anonymous Employee #3
#3 claims that Global Pet Foods discards thousands of dollars of pet food in any given day, and feels that the food should instead be donated to a charity that provides pet food for owners who cannot easily afford it. When #3 raised this concern, it wasn’t taken seriously – instead, management just turned the issue into a joke.
Anonymous Employee #4
#4 worked for Global Pet foods for quite some time, and learned a great deal about various types of pets and how to care for them. #4 had to work evenings and weekends quite a bit, but reports that for anyone who loves animals, “it’s a great place to work.” The pay, however, is not good.
Again, these are not customer reviews, but they’re all I could come up with.
Anonymous Employee #5
#5 claims to have received very little praise from management. Communication was poor, and often the employee had no idea what he/she was supposed to be doing. #5 found the customers pleasant to deal with, though.
Anonymous Employee #6
#6 was employed at Global Pet Foods for 6+ years and says that if you like dogs, it’s a good place to work. However, the family-owned store seemed to be much more focused on family members than on other employees, and says that family members had benefit packages, but nobody else did. #6 also found the environment to be toxic, with a lot of in-fighting and backstabbing going on.
Anonymous Employee #7
This employee has just two words – “Not awful.”
7. PetSense – 175 Stores
PetSense does not have “stand alone” stores, and you won’t find a PetSense store in a major shopping center. Instead, PetSense stores are found in rural markets and outlet malls in 24 states. The chain does not sell companion animals, but does facilitate animal adoption through local shelters and rescue facilities.
PetSmart was founded by Jim Dougherty, who is also PetSmart’s founder. The goal of PetSense is to offer quality pet supplies at low prices. PetSense has a large selection of natural pet foods, and also offers grooming services.
I found the reviews for PetSense to be pretty much limited to what I was able to find at BestCompany, where the reviews were structured according to how well PetSense performed in various categories. The company received only 2 star and 1 star ratings out of a possible 5 stars.
Discounts – PetSense does offer discounts when you order online. You have to provide a coupon code, though.
Shipping and Returns – PetSense offers limited benefits when it comes to shipping, exchanges and returns. They do not, however, offer free returns.
Payment Methods – The online store accepts payment options other than credit cards
Special Discounts – PetSense has no corporate policy on discounts, leaving such decisions up to store management. Veterans, students and seniors may or may not receive discounts, depending on the individual store.
8. Petland – 122 Stores
Petland is a Canadian company with stores nationwide. Petland offers products for dogs and cats, and considers their in-store associates to be “pet counsellors” who can offer information and advice that will help to match “the right pet with the right guest … meeting the needs of both.” If you already have a pet, then the staff will help you to learn more about your pet, and form a stronger bond with him or her.
Petland offers a wide range of pet supplies and accessories, and also offers online shopping with next-day shipping.
This company is one of the few remaining that still sell companion animals. I’ll talk more about that issue later on in an entry about another pet store.
Erika from Dalton, Georgia
Erika bought two puppies from her local Petland store and has been very happy. One puppy had cherry eye, which was normal for the breed of dog she purchased, and Petland paid for the dog’s surgery. Erika has only good things to say about Petland.
Sc from Arlington Heights, Illinois
Sc bought a Yorkie/Silkie mix from Petland and says it’s beyond cute!
I purchased a puppy from Petland in IL. It is a Yorkie/Silkie Cross. Cutest thing ever! No problems!
Thomas from Wantagh, New York
Thomas bought a huge fish tank from Petland that came with a 2-year warranty from another pet store. The tank broke, and he contacted the store and “got the runaround,” with the store telling him that they weren’t responsible. He had to immediately buy another tank, or end up losing all his fish and having a huge mess if the tank broke. The store wouldn’t refund his money. He bought a tank at another Petland outlet.
I have no idea why Thomas gave Petland a 5 star rating!
Denise from Brookpark, Ohio
Denise bought a Golden Lab from Petland, and loves him to distraction! The only problem she had was with another dog she got from Petland, who developed kennel cough. However, Petland paid the vet expenses to have the dog treated.
Sharon from Massachusetts
Sharon doesn’t like the negative review posted about Petland, and says that her experience was very good. She’d lost a dog, and went to Petland for another. She found cages full of healthy puppies, and selected one. The puppy is “an absolute delight,” and came from “a breeder In Iowa who must have given her love and some training.” Housebreaking is a challenge, but the puppy is only 11 weeks old, so Sharon is going to be patient.
Rachel from Dublin, Ohio
Rachel bought an Australian Shepherd/Poodle from her local Petland. She says that the staff were extremely helpful, and not at all pushy. The dog was expensive ($1700) but came with a crate, toys, food and more.
$1700 for a mix? That’s just demented!
John from Plantation, Florida
John bought a Siberian Husky puppy from his local Petland. He says that later, he found out what he considers to be a puppy mill dog. There were no clearances for various health conditions, and the breeder that supplied Petland had over a hundred adult dogs and more than 50 puppies on the premises. John is waiting for a response from Petland, and he’s not happy.
Jennifer from Las Vegas, Nevada
Jennifer spent $800 for a MinPin at Petland. The dog is a bit of a terror, but doing well, Jennifer says that Petland will push you to buy expensive dog food.
Leslie from Aurora, Illinois
Leslie bought a puppy at Petland in 2011, and found that he had serious issues. The dog didn’t want to be touched, and displayed aggression when his food or toys were approached. She was promised support from Petland, but when she called them, she was told that they only “take[s] the time to play with and pay attention to the pets [we] like.” She pointed out that this was a serious issue and she wanted help, but was told nothing more than that someone would get back to her. Nobody did.
Elysia from Mckinney, Texas
Elysia bought a Maltipoo from Petland, and the dog seemed healthy. However, once Elysia got her home, the dog started coughing non-stop. Elysia called the store, and the only response she got was that the dog wasn’t coughing when in the store. Veterinary treatment was needed, because the dog’s throat was so inflamed she couldn’t even eat without being administered baby food via syringe.
Emma from Liberty, Missouri
Emma bought a 2-month-old Siberian Husky from Petland. Everything seemed okay until the dog started vomiting and being sluggish. Petland said they’d take the dog back, but there would be a $500 fee. Emma took the dog back because the vet bills would have been horrendous, and she feels that Petland should have given her the full purchase price back since they sold her a sick dog in the first place.
Melissa from Kansas City, Missouri
Sherri from Lakeland, Florida
Sherri bought a puppy from her localPetland store in Lakeland, and brought it in for the free vet visit that the store offered. The puppy had diarrhea and a rash, and ended up on medication. The condition got worse, and the vet expenses were going through the roof. Sherri called Petland and asked if she could return the dog, and was told that the dog would have to be “half dead” before a return would be possible. Sherri has a very unhappy dog, and she’s not exactly thrilled herself.
Jose from Cooper City, Florida
Jose says that he took his daughter to the Petland store in Davie, Florida. They were thinking of buying a Boxer, and he had to wait a long time to find an associate. Jose wanted to know where the dog came from, and was told that it came from a top breeder who provided the dogs with heated floors to walk on. Jose didn’t believe that and left.
So, one star, Jose? Why?
Fernando from Downers Grove, Illinois
Fernando reports that Petland sold him a crate for his Siberian Husky, and that the dog got stuck in the crate’s divider and died. Petland staff later said that the crate was wrong for the dog. But they sold it to him!
Sydnie from McChesnie Park, Illinois
Sydney bought a puppy from the Rockford Petland store, and says that she has “never regretted a decision more in my life.” She took the puppy home, and it didn’t get along well with the dog she already had. In fact, te dog ended up “with mean teeth showing, frothing at the mouth, and lunging for this puppy.”
And this is Petland’s fault in what way? Sorry, Sydnie, but Petland is not at fault here. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and it wouldn’t have mattered whether you bought the puppy from Petland or a backyard breeder or anyone else – the issue here is the dog that you already have! In this case, Petland does not deserve a bad review.
9. Woof Gang Bakery – 116 Stores
Woof Gang Bakery is a franchise-based chain with locations across the United States. Their mission is to serve as a “neighborhood store” with a commitment to pet owners and the health, well-being and happiness of their pets.
Woof Gang Bakery offers a number of services, but given that the chain gives its franchisees a great deal of control, not all services are available in all stores. It’s up to management at any individual store what services are offered. At a typical store, some of the services could include grooming, doggie day care, wellness clinics and boarding.
Reviews were available only for individual stores; not for the company as a whole. The highest rating was 5 stars out of a possible 5. The lowest was 3.5. Most locations came in around 4.5.
10. Bentley’s Pet Stuff – 93 Stores
Bentley’s Pet Stuff works from the premise that we should treat pets the way we would like to be treated. Among other things, this means feeding nutrient-rich natural foods.
In 2008, Bentley’s founder Lisa Senafe lost two of her cats to illness. She wondered if their diet might have been a contributing factor, and took a close look at the ingredients on her bag of cat food. She was shocked to find that many of the ingredients on the list were unpronounceable, and perhaps even unfit for consumption.
Lisa’s loss led, in no small measure, to her determination to stock only the best pet foods, and to research extensively before allowing any product to hit the shelves. She also ensures that all store staff are trained to give each customer and each pet a “customized shopping experience” that is unique to their individual needs.
The only reviews I was able to obtain came from the company’s website, and I have no way of knowing if they post every review they receive. I’m not sure of he accuracy of the star rating here. There are over a thousand reviews on the site, and I scrolled through most of them before finding it just too time-consuming. Every review I looked at was 5 stars out of a possible 5, and the company has averaged out the reviews to indicate a 4.5 star rating overall.
11. Hollywood Feed – 91 Stores
Hollywood Feed has its headquarters not, as you might think, in Hollywood, but in Memphis, Tennessee. Hollywood Feed does not sell pets, but does focus on quality supplies for cats and dogs. These include collars, harnesses, leashes, clothing, bowls and waterers, crates, toys, training aids and flea/tick treatments.
Hollywood Feed also offers home delivery, and orders of more than $49 get free shipping. Under $49, the shipping is pretty reasonable – just $5.95. With orders over $75, you can get same day delivery, but the downside is that this service is only available in Memphis and the surrounding area.
As of the time of this writing, Hollywood Feed has brick and mortar stores in 12 states –Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
The only reviews I was able to find was on the Hollywood Feed Facebook page. The company earned a rating of 4.7 stars out of a possible 5, based on 244 reviews. There were no negative reviews.
12. Petland Discounts – 78 Stores
Petland Discounts has been in business since 1965, having started with a store in Glen Oaks, New York. Its home office is in Brentwood New York, and the chain serves just three states – Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
Petland Discounts is a privately owned chain of pet stores based in Brentwood, New York. The company was founded in 1965 when founder Neil Padron opened a store in Glen Oaks, New York. This first store was focused entirely on tropical fish, but outlets now offer birds and other small animals along with food and accessories.
Sadly, in January of 2019, Petland Discounts notified the Department of Labor in New York State that it would probably close all stores due to declining sales. Accordingly, I see little point in posting reviews.
13. Unleashed by Petco – 72 Stores
Unleased by Petco represents itself as “your neighborhood dog and cat store and much more.” The chain offers only natural pet foods with “no hard-to-pronounce chemicals” or additives, just “the finest ingredients found in nature.”
At select locations, you can also get your dog nice and clean! Some Unleashed by Petco stores feature what they call a “self-serve dog wash” for just $12. Actually, though, you do get a bit of service for your $12, because although you have to wash your dog, they’ll clean up the mess afterward.
Unleashed by Petco also offers training seminars. And, if your dog isn’t up to date on all his shots, you can take care of that as well at Unleashed by Petco, with vaccination clinics staffed by licensed veterinarians.
Reviews were available for individual stores only – not for the chain as a whole. Overall, Unleashed by Petco has a rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5.
14. Bosley’s by Pet Valu – 71 stores
Bosley’s by Pet Valu is a Canadian retailer with various locations and a very strong presence in the province of British Columbia. The chain represents itself as having a “fleet of services,” including a $10 self-serve dog wash, Groomingdale’s Pet Spa and a stock of frozen raw food. The chain also partners with local rescue groups to place pets in need in forever homes.
Bosley’s by Pet Valu has ratings of 3-4 stars out of a possible 5, based on individual stores.
15. Mondou – 65 Stores
Mondou is a venerable institution, having been founded by Joseph ÉmilienMondou in 1938. There are 65 stores in the Canadian province of Quebec, and there is also an online distribution center.
Mondou has supplies for cats, dogs and small animals, including a wide range of foods and accessories. In their brick and mortar locations, you can receive personalized advice from Mondou’s knowledgeable staff. Mondou also features grooming services, and a rewards program.
I found reviews of mostly 3 stars out of a possible 5, but nothing over 4.5 stars.
16. Pet Planet – 64 Stores
Pet Planet offers a huge range of products at various price levels, since part of their corporate philosophy is that “everyone should have access to affordable and healthy pet products, regardless of their means.” The chain wants to “keep pets healthy and happy” while giving their customers “an incredible opportunity to save.”
Pet Planet offers 5% off on canned food when you purchase 12 or more cans, and 10% off treats when you buy 12 or more of one kind. They also have what they call a “frequent feeder” program, under which if you buy 12 bags of one kind of pet food, you get the next bag at no cost, and with their Nail Clip Club, once you’ve had 5 nail clippings done ,the next one is free. Also, for every 5 dog washes purchased, you get a freebie!
Pet Planet has a rating of 2.5-4.5 stars, with an average of about 3.5 stars based on individual stores.
17. Pet Food Express – 62 Stores
Pet Food Express has stores throughout California, with its corporate office located in Oakland. In addition to providing pet food and supplies, Pet Food Express also has an adoption program that has found forever homes for more than 61,000 homeless pets. Most stores offer training classes and vaccination clinics.
Pet Food Express promises to “discover and honor the needs and wants of each individual that visits us.” In order to do so, they train their staff extensively and employ only people who have a “love and passion for pets.” They also offer a satisfaction guarantee – if your pet doesn’t like the food you’ve purchased, bring it back within 30 days, along with your receipt and whatever remains of the product, and they’ll give you another type of food to try. If you haven’t opened the product, you can get a full refund. Without a receipt, you can get store credit.
Pet Food Express stores are among the few chains that still sell companion animals in some stores, despite calls for a boycott on social media. Pet stores, according to those who would prefer to see them not selling pets, obtain their animals from puppy mills and kitten mills – irresponsible breeders who care little for the animals they “farm” and often raise them in horrific conditions.
Robert Mellace, the owner of a Pet Food Express store in Boston, begs to differ. He maintains that you have to look at the issue on a case by case basis, and points out that there are plenty of places where people can buy puppies, and will not have the protection that they can have at a reputable pet store. “Legislators,” he says, “are being influenced by animal rights groups with emotions, not facts.”
Mellace further claims that “Pet shops are the only regulated source for consumer protection and animal welfare. Consumers must have a choice, [and] whether going to a shelter, or a breeder or a pet shop it must remain their choice.’’
I have taken this directly from the Boston Pet Food Express store’s website:
Why choose a Pet Express puppy:
- All Puppies are purchased through USDA certified, trained, and inspected Breeders/Dealers.
- All Puppies are Microchipped with AKC Reunite (the latest form of permanent identification).
- One year Health Guarantee (alleviating the cost of treating any contagious illnesses, some restrictions may apply).
- Three year Hereditary Warranty (protecting you in the case of a genetic problem).
- Lifetime guarantee through our loyalty program (see store for details).
- FREE office visit (within 7 days of purchase) with participating veterinarians.
- Training Program with AKC Good Dog Helpline.
- Low cost spay/neutering certificate.
- FREE first “tubby time” in our “Pet Spa” to be used within the first 30 days of taking your new puppy home, the second one is 50% off, the third one is 25% off, and 10% off for life at Pet Express Puppy Spa in our Lynn Store. Additional fees may apply.
- 60 days free additional health insurance from the AKC Health Protection Day 1 to 60 – Accident and injury coverage. Day 31 to 60 – Illness coverage (registration required).
- Pure Breeds include a 5 generation Pedigree (a family tree) and registration forms for one or more of the various kennel clubs (AKC, ACA, APR, etc) The pedigree will also list any DNA certifications, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals certifications (OFA), and/or champions in the bloodline.
- Mixed Breeds (and “Unregistered purebreds”) are always available.
PLEASE be advised that we cannot “hold” puppies or take deposits on them. Our puppies find homes fast (and yes, they ALL find good homes), so if you or one of your family members fall in love be advised to make your purchase as soon as you make the decision to take a new pet home. We do, however, take deposits on special order requests (breeds that we do not normally carry) with a guarantee of 100% Health at the time you take your new pet home and the full puppy package that is normally provided.
If all this is true, then it sounds to me as though you could do worse than buy a puppy from this store. However, I have been unable to confirm whether all Pet Food Express stores hold to the same standard. For more on how to avoid puppy mills and find a dog that isn’t going to cause you a world of grief because it came from a puppy mill, see my posts Getting the Right Dog From the Right Breeder and 5 Reasons Why Puppy Mills Must Be Stopped.
I realize that this has been a rather long entry for a single chain that isn’t even in the top 10. However, given the importance of not supporting puppy mills, and the fact that this is one of the very few stores that still offers puppies for sale, I think it’s important.
Pet Food Express has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5, based on individual stores. There was one 1-star review, but I’m eliminating it because it had to do with a product the customer wasn’t happy with, and was not anything to do with the store.
18. Pet People – 59 Stores
Here we have yet another chain that wants to be your “neighborhood pet store.” Their stores are large enough to give you a wide range of products, but small enough to feel cozy and friendly. Pet People asserts that the key to their success is in building solid customer relations. They want you to get what you need for your pet, and enjoy getting it when you interact with their knowledgeable, friendly staff, who love interacting with pets and answering questions.
Pet People sources natural foods from respected manufacturers, and offers them at competitive prices. The company also believes that you don’t always have to spend a small fortune to offer your pet the best nutrition, and offers quality foods at various price levels.
Pet People earned a rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5, based on individual stores.
19. Mud Bay – 54 Stores
Mud Bay has been in operation since 1988, with stores located between Bend, Oregon and Bellingham, Washington, and a high concentration of stores in Puget Sound and Portland. They stock more than 650 varieties of dog and cat food, and their staff will be more than willing to help you select the food that is just right for your pet.
Mud Bay has a rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5, based on individual stores.
20. Kriser’s – 48 Stores
Kriser’s offers grain-free, allergen-free foods and treats, and a lot of support from their knowledgeable staff if you’re not sure what’s right for your dog or cat. They also offer grooming products, toys, treats, accessories and more. If you have a bird or a reptile, though, you’ll be out of luck. Dogs and cats are the whole world as far as Kriser’s is concerned!
Kriser’s does not sell pets, but would be more than happy to fix you up with a rescue. They have regular events that offer you a chance to find a forever friend who really needs a home.
Kriser’s also offers a doggie day care, with a very low human/dog ratio so that every dog gets a lot of individual attention. You can benefit from full day, half day, or even hourly rates.
Veterinary services are also available, and in fact, you can think of Kriser’s as your primary care vet! They offer wellness exams, non-emergency services, a pharmacy, and even laboratory testing.
Kriser’s earns a rating of between 4 and 4.5 stars, based on individual stores.
21. Chuch & Don’s – 45 Stores
Chuck & Don’s was founded by Chuck Anderson and Don Tauer, who envisioned a local pet store with a lot of products and a focus on customer service. The chain began in 1990 in Eagan, Minnesota, and has since expanded to include locations in Colorado, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Chuck & Don’s offers a wide selection of premium foods and treats, and states that they’re “committed to doing what’s best for the customer and community.” Their belief is that if your pet is well-nourished and happy, he or she will, by definition, be happy.
Chuck & Don’s has a customer satisfaction rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5, based on individual stores.
22. Earthwise Pet Supply – 40 Stores
The first Earthwise Pet Supply store opened in Huntington Beach, California, in 1977, and for the past 40+ years has striven to improve the lives of pets and pet owners through outstanding customer service, education, and a focus on the environment. Here is their mission statement, taken from their website:
- We believe pets are an integral part of our families and deserve our utmost kindness and respect.
- We believe pets should receive the best care possible.
- We believe proper nutrition is an essential component to ensuring our pets are given the best chance for sustained health and long-term well-being.
- We believe in promoting products that use green practices and recycled materials.
- We believe in offering a wide range of natural products that fit varying family budgets.
- We believe in supporting local shelters and rescues and remain committed to reducing pet overpopulation.
- We believe in providing our customers the best customer service and most knowledgeable staff in the pet supply industry.
- We believe in using sustainable business practices whenever possible in order to preserve our natural environment.
Chuck & Don’s encourages you to contact your local store for information on how provide a forever home for a rescue pet.
Chuck & Don’s has a satisfaction rating of 4.8 out of a possible 5 stars, based on individual stores.
23. Pet Depot – 34 Stores
Pet Depot has been providing pet owners with natural foods and a wide range of supplies since 1991. Franchises are locally owned and operated, and all feature the products that you need for healthy, happy pets. You’ll find everything you need for your dog or cat, and also for small animals, reptiles and birds. The staff are highly trained, and can help you to determine what’s exactly right for your pet.
According to Pet Depot, at their stores, “animals really do come first!”
Pet Depot has a rating of 4 stars out of a potential 5, based on individual stores.
24. Concord Pet – 29 Stores
Here’s a story for you – Concord Pet actually started out in a trailer, in a trailer park in Wilmington, Delaware! Now, the company has 29 stores, and has been in business for more than 36 years.
There’s a bit of a range when it comes to services, and not all services are available at all locations. Depending on the location, though, you might be able to take advantage of an in-store dog wash with dryer, a low-cost vaccination clinic, and local delivery. You’ll also find regular in-store specials.
Concord Pet has stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, but if you don’t live in any of those states, you can still use their online service. Shipping is free on orders over $49.
I found only one review for Concord Pet. It was 1 star.
I’m not posting the review here, because it was from a reviewer who was upset that he couldn’t get a refund – just store credit. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that should warrant a 1-star review.
25. Pet Club – 28 Stores
Pet Club is based in Arizona, and locally owned. It has been in business for a long time, and represents itself as a “place where pet health and happiness come first!” Pet Club offers grooming services and a huge range of products for cats, dogs, fish, reptiles, and even horses and other livestock! Their belief is that any animal, even the birds that show up at your feeder, are dependent on humans to take care of them, and that they’re entitled to high-quality, additive-free foods.
Pet Club also offers low-cost veterinary services including vaccinations, de-worming and other preventative care measures supervised by licensed veterinarians.
Pet Club received an average rating of 4 stars out of a possible 5, based on individual stores.
The Final Word
There you have it – 25 pet store statistics and analysis. I’ve given you pet stores by number of locations, a summary of products and services for each location, and customer reviews.
So, where should you shop?
If you’re looking to buy a pet, with the exception of very few locations and a limited selection of pets, you might be out of luck, or better off finding a good breeder. If you’re looking for pet food and supplies, you have any number of stores to choose from. There are companies that have stores in the thousands all across North America, and stores with just a handful of locations in specific regions, and all kinds of other stores that fall somewhere in the middle.
If you shop at a major chain, you can be assured of finding a huge array of products, with prices that will be pretty much standard wherever you go. Smaller stores might have less in the way of selection, but you’ll get that “neighborhood pet store” feel that goes a long way when it comes to customer satisfaction.
In the final analysis, you probably already know what you want, and need, in a pet store. Remember that products are just that – products, nothing more, and they’re pretty much the same everywhere. Customer service and a great vibe are what really matters. Depending on the franchisee, you can get that from a chain store, and conversely, you might not get a great experience from a local store if the owner is surly and the staff are inept.
So shop where you feel comfortable – where you and your pet feel valued and welcomed. I know where I’ll shop, and where I won’t shop. It doesn’t matter to me whether the ownership is local, or whether the store is part of a conglomerate – I look at the service I get from an individual store, and if I feel comfortable, and my dogs like the staff, that’s where I go, and where I spend my money. Sometimes, chain stores can learn a lot about customer service, but that goes for “mom and pop” pet stores as well.
Ask yourself these questions. Do you feel at home when you go into the store? Is your pet greeted as an honored guest? Does staff want to just snuggle him and squish his ears and give him a tummy rub? Or do they glance at you when you come in and then go back to gossiping? Do they ask you how they can help or just leave you to wander the store? Do they offer suggestions on what you should buy or just wait for you to get to the cash so they can take your money? Do they tell you about other services that the store offers, or just shove a pamphlet into your hand if you ask about what might be on offer? Do they seem to care about you and your pet, or are they just “paid by the hour”?
Your answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the suitability of your pet store. From where I’m sitting, any time you enter a pet store you should feel comfortable and at home. You should feel as though you and your pet are the be-all and the end-all. You should feel as though you are the most important person (and pet) in the whole world! If you don’t feel that way, then you’re in the wrong store, whether it’s a chain or a local operation.
The statistics I’ve provided are just that – statistics. And as former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Statistics can help to guide you in the right direction, but they’re just numbers. When it comes to choosing a pet store, your heart is a better guide than all the statistics out there. Go with your heart. If you walk into a pet store and it feels right, it probably is right, and if it doesn’t, it isn’t, no matter what the statistics say.
I hope that you have found this post useful, and that it has helped you to find the best pet store in your area.