PHILADELPHIA -- Four independent pet stores in this market have banded together to take a bite out of the competition.
Braxton's Animal Works, Funimals Pet Plaza, Pickering Valley Feed & Farm and Stoltzfus Feed & Supply have formed a coalition called Your Independent Cornerstone Pet Retailers. The group boasts that it serves "all corners of Chester County and Main Line" Philadelphia.
The independents operate relatively same-size stores (all are under 11,000 square feet), have the same "headaches and opportunities," and have about 100 years of experience among them, according to Bill Cracas, owner of Pickering Valley, Lionville, Pa.
"We decided that we wanted to do some things together to deal with the competition of not just supermarkets, but also the big box stores -- the Kmarts, Wal-Marts and the PetCos," he said.
The four have begun advertising in the Sunday and food sections of The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper to get their message out to consumers.
"Our job is to make our customers realize that we can do the things that other people do. Don't abandon us and we will do the things we need to do to keep their business," Cracas said.
One recent ad featured several superpremium brands of pet food, including a 40-pound bonus bag of Iams at $3 off the regular price. Coupons offered $3 off any 45-pound bag of Pro-Visions Pro Plan dog food and 25% off any new Pro Plan multiperformance cat litter. Multi-dollar-value coupons were also offered for the Nutro's Natural Choice lines of dog and cat food.
Kaytee bird and small animal products, such as natural cedar bedding at $4.99 for a 3,000-cubic-inch package, and a 50-pound bag of wild bird seed for $12.99 were also featured.
Cracas said he never would have been able to afford a full-page ad by himself. In addition to targeting the pet superstores, the full-page ad helps the four better compete against the supermarkets that also advertise their pet departments in the newspaper, such as the Super Fresh division of A&P.
Cracas said Your Independent Cornerstone Pet Retailers group has generated interest among other independent shops looking to join the group.
"In the future we would like to [expand], but it takes a lot of effort and work. It is not a simple thing to do. We're still making more mistakes than we are doing things right at this point. We want to make sure we do things well before we get too big," he said.