Building Momentum
By Seth Mendelson

Watch out world. Here comes Pet Club.

That was the feeling one got from talking to the partners of the privately held pet retailer as they discussed their current place in the market and where they expected to be in just a few years. These guys have big plans. And frankly, I would not bet against them, especially after listening to their go-to-market strategies.

Pet Club’s top executives are simply shooting for the moon. They predict the company could go from 31 to 250 stores in just a decade. They also predict that the entire western half of the country could be fertile ground for their growth plans. Today, they are in two states, Arizona and Colorado. Next year, they plan to open stores in as many as four other (undisclosed) western states. In 10 years, the chain might span from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Stranger things have happened.

So how does the Mesa, Ariz.-based chain do it, especially located within minutes of the PetSmart’s headquarters in neighboring Phoenix?

The answer, of course, is that Pet Club is different from the competition. Its product assortment features exclusively natural and holistic items—though price points vary dramatically, in order to offer something to just about every type of consumer. This is supported by a business philosophy that emphasizes flexibility and the mandate that making a business decision should be completed in just minutes more than it takes to present the facts.

As you will read in this month’s cover story, the chain’s rapid growth, its unique merchandise mix and its future goals are three important reasons why it was chosen as the Pet Business Retailer of the Year. Pet Club, as well as some of our previous winners, should give independent pet retailers and small chains the impetus to strive to be different than the big-box retailers in the pet world.

Times are tough, and they are certainly more difficult for smaller retailers. But as officials at Pet Club clearly show us, those retailers with a vision and the desire to get from point A to point B can still survive in this marketplace. Pet Club has more than quadrupled in size in five years, and it plans to keep growing at a rapid pace.

Other retailers should take note.