On the Move
By Craig Rexford

We moved offices in late June. Well, not exactly moved offices. In fact, all we did was move down the corridor about 50 feet in a corporate real estate restructuring.

Just the same, moving day was not much fun. But it did give me the opportunity to go through the growing mound of items littering my office and determine what to keep and what could be thrown out as I readied to enter my new office. I would say that I cleaned out about 50 pounds worth of collectibles, old notes and pictures of me when I was just a few years younger.

It also gave me an opportunity to go through old issues of Pet Business and re-visit how things were five, 10 or even 20 years ago. While the reminiscing was fun, it was also quite interesting to see how much the pet industry has changed in the last decade. It was also intriguing to see how much things have stayed the same.

For example, I happened upon a story from about 10 years ago that discussed how important it was for retailers to explore for ways to cut their expenses. In it, retailers talked about how much pressure they were experiencing on their bottom line from such expenses as higher taxes, energy costs and employment costs.

Interestingly, our cover story this month covers the same topic, though it seems that some of the costs have changed a little bit. In addition to taxes, energy and worker costs, retailers now have to pay attention to such things as communication fees, not to mention keeping a closer eye on inventory and things associated with it.

On the other hand, a bunch of stories from the 1990s talked little about the large pet chains starting to pop up all over the country and a lot about how independent pet retailers were fighting amongst themselves for market share. That was before Wal-Mart truly discovered the pet category and its many attributes and before PETCO and PetSmart were household names for anyone who owned an animal. 

Today, of course, it is just the opposite, with the big box and mass retailers dominating the marketplace and the independents looking for a niche of their own in order to survive.

The bottom line is merchants must understand that certain tenets of retailing will never change. And, they must also know that certain aspects of retailing are constantly evolving. The key, of course, is to make sure that you stay aware of what is going on in the industry and ahead of the curve.