Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 16, 2015

Independent Stores

Posted at 08:33AM - Comments: (28)

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in the highly unusual (for me) position of being in a strange city and ready for my flight home more than an hour before I needed to go to the airport. So I killed time by asking my phone to direct me to a nearby pet supply store. Some national chain stores populated the list, but then I recognized the name of a small, regional chain, Centinela Feed. I hadn’t been to one of those stores before, but I knew that the folks who own the chain are also behind Lotus Pet Food. They had invited me a few years ago to tour and take pictures and video of the canning facility they built, where they make Lotus’s canned foods. But I hadn’t had time on that trip to visit any of their stores.

I am a huge fan of independent pet supply stores – and this includes these small, regional chains. You can visit the big super chains every week for a year and not see more than one or two new items; in a single one-hour visit to a single independent store, I saw more unique and helpful items, and new pet foods and treats, than I had in ages. Clearly, I have to get out more!

The other really cool thing about independents: Many store owners are building or remodeling their stores to meet pet owners other needs, for training, routine veterinary care, daycare, bathing, and more. The Centinela store I visited had a doggie daycare and self-bathing facility in the store, and dog-training classes were offered during certain hours. When time is at a premium, being able to meet so many of your dog’s needs in one visit is really a huge help.

The store I visited had the largest selection of frozen raw diets I had ever seen, including a couple I had never seen; that’s something that the giant chains just won’t offer. It also offered a really wide selection of treats made from local and organic suppliers. I’m super fussy about the chews and treats I buy; if there is possibility the ingredients come from China, or the packaging is the least bit unclear about the origin of the ingredients, forget it, I won’t buy them. I found a number of locally sourced treats in this store, as well as some varieties from some of the national companies I do like that I hadn’t seen before.

All in all, I highly recommend the experience. It’s easy to get into a rut and go to the same store every time you need pet food or other supplies. But it’s worth it to take some time to check out stores you’ve never visited before, especially the independently owned and operated ones.

What’s your favorite independent store or chain? Let some of our readers know about the good ones!



Comments (28)

I also recommend Floppy Pets in Seabrook. Been buying from them since they opened. Very knowledgable and helpful.

Posted by: dana | June 17, 2015 10:48 PM    Report this comment

Fort Bragg, CA, offers two outstanding stores that feature quality pet food and supplies: Fort Bragg Feed and Highway 20 Feed

Posted by: Bondog | June 17, 2015 4:30 PM    Report this comment

Highway 20 Feed, a knowledgeable, friendly, family owned business in Fort Bragg, CA, provides high quality foods for a variety of animals, including holistic, non-GMO, and raw for dogs and cats. They feature an assortment of pet supplies, toys, beds, and houses and host adoption events. To help the local rescue, they showcase adoptable cats at the store. If you're visiting Mendocino, CA, drive to Fort Bragg and check out Highway 20 Feed. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by: Bondog | June 17, 2015 4:26 PM    Report this comment

Doggie Bag - Roseville, CA. Very knowledgeable. Lots of food made in US. Many options in quality food, toys, clothes, etc.

Posted by: Calirose | June 17, 2015 4:09 PM    Report this comment

Tailwaggers in Blue Bell, PA. Very knowledgeable owner, only carries US things, and every December you can get photos of your dog with Santa. He carries several frozen raw foods, and brings in the reps every so often.

Also Braxton's, in Strafford, PA. It's been there for years, and started as a boarding kennel and gradually carried more and more pet supplies. (They no longer board.) They also carry frozen raw foods.

Posted by: redrocket99 | June 17, 2015 12:40 PM    Report this comment

The Pet Caberet in Roslindale Ma is a truly unique independently and holistically oriented owned store. The owners have a wealth of knowledge regarding pet nutritional and supplement needs. Only the highest quality foods including frozen raw diet are sold.They take a personal interest in advising their customers as to what would be the healthiest choices to maintain and/or improve their pets' well being. For 11 years it has been our go to store for our pet!

Posted by: Woofy | June 16, 2015 9:32 PM    Report this comment

Bosley's in Vancouver BC, West End Davie St, and Big Dog Little Dog Bakery in Vancouver BC Denman St. I have dogs with food allergies and both stores offer several options for treats with limited ingredients, Canadian made, healthy. Bosley's also has lots of toys. Big Dog Little Dog Bakery has large, creative selection of baked treats. Since I live in rural Hawaii, there are no big box stores, only the Farm Feed store. So I load up the suitcase in Vancouver. Bosley's has many stores, but Davie St shop still has that friendly local feel.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | June 16, 2015 8:57 PM    Report this comment

Nature's Nibbles in Alexandria, VA.
Small store in the thriving, local 'Main Street' neighborhood of Del Ray.
Carries raw foods (frozen & freeze dry), high quality can & kibble.
Will order special requests. Customers in the neighborhood are offered free, Saturday delivery.
Chris Gabriel, the owner, saw a need when he couldn't find good nutritional information and sources for his own dogs. Opened the store ~8 years ago. I've worked there 4 yrs come August.

Posted by: als | June 16, 2015 7:40 PM    Report this comment

The Dog Resort in Fort Myers, Florida has a very large selection of frozen raw dog foods.

Posted by: jcrply | June 16, 2015 7:34 PM    Report this comment

Tabby & Pup in Midlothian/Richmond/VA
Kay Nelson carries high quality dry and canned dog and cat foods. If a customer wants a particular food that she doesn't carry, she will try to order it for him, unless the company requires a very large minimum order. Her store is very small and she doesn't have enough storage space to accommodate large quantities of food.

Posted by: Carolyn Turner | June 16, 2015 5:10 PM    Report this comment

We like Just For Pets in North Austin. The owner feeds his dogs raw food and home cooked food and they have a big supply of frozen raw food there, along with lots of healthy treats.

Posted by: Mollysmom | June 16, 2015 4:20 PM    Report this comment

I like Pet People, an independent store in Los Gatos, with a great selection of quality pet food; also For Every Living Thing in Sunnyvale.

Posted by: pl | June 16, 2015 3:38 PM    Report this comment

Pet Palace in Aurora, CO, is a wonderful, independently-owned store that stocks only highly-rated dry dog foods and frozen raw foods.
They also carry cat food and the owner(s) are very helpful.

Posted by: calliesmom | June 16, 2015 3:23 PM    Report this comment

Woof Gang Bakery (small business/owner/manager) in our local area (Cordova/Memphis, Tennessee) carries some awesome products for our four legged babies.... raw, next to raw, natural treats, home baked treats, etc. If you are in our area, you must check them out. I found them looking for tasty healthy food and treats for my Sheltie but also happily discovered their wonderful grooming service as well. Check 'em out! You'll love them too!

Posted by: Kalis Mom in TN | June 16, 2015 1:24 PM    Report this comment

Long Leash on Life, Albuquerque, NM. Family owned and staffed. Creme de la creme when it comes to knowledge, quality and customer service!!! If they wouldn't feed it to their own companion animals, they won't recommend it for yours. Fundraising and active support of their local shelter and rescue groups.

Posted by: Supercat | June 16, 2015 12:53 PM    Report this comment

Munchies in Tampa/Clearwater, FL

Posted by: Jaman | June 16, 2015 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Munchies in Tampa/Clearwater, FL

Posted by: Jaman | June 16, 2015 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Pet Food Express, in the SF bay area. Local chain with well-informed staff, raw foods, pet wash, and weigh scale.

Pet Food Depot in Palo Alto and Redwood City is another.

The Pet Club has great prices and some raw food, and it is a local "chain" but it has more of a Big Box feel.

Posted by: curlyh2odogs | June 16, 2015 11:57 AM    Report this comment

Weber's Pet Supermarket, 4 outlets in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia. They not only carry the better dry and canned pet foods but also organic raw frozen food. In addition, they support a number of local and national animal related events and organizations. I have been their customer since the late '80 when I was given the right recommendations and advice to cure a dog of mine from her allergies that had required 5 years of weekly allergy shots.

Posted by: Hovifriend | June 16, 2015 11:39 AM    Report this comment

Holistic Hound in Berkeley, run by Heidi Hill, is wonderful, and Heidi makes a real effort to find foods and supplements that will help her customers' pets. I found a couple of supplements that helped some gastric issues my dog was having. Definitely not the kind of thing you can find at the big chain stores.

Posted by: Mary Straus | June 16, 2015 11:09 AM    Report this comment

Natural Healing Whole Dog Wellness in West Chicago, IL. Lee Deaton and her staff truly want the best for your dogs. Have a wonderful store full of healthy food, treats, supplements and toys. Also have hydrotherapy pools. Helped our 11 year old cattle dog immensely.

Wet Nose, Geneva, IL. A small chain in the Chicago area. Great food and fun toys.
Very knowledgeable staff.

Posted by: sharonpursel | June 16, 2015 10:54 AM    Report this comment

I live in Boulder CO and we are lucky to have several independent stores nearby. The three with which I patronize are PC's Pantry and Only Natural Pet Food (both in Boulder) and Nederland Feed & Supply in Nederland. There are probably many others in and around Boulder as well, since there's such a big market for that sort of thing here, but I am most familiar with those three. PC's Pantry is known for always having fresh in-store baked dog treats available, so my dogs love to go there.

Posted by: montanarose | June 16, 2015 10:37 AM    Report this comment

My favorite independent Animal Jungle recently closed because the owner wanted to retire and no one wanted to take it over. I still miss it everytime I pass. Ithad many items that my dog liked and many times when we were on our way home from the park we would just stop to get a treat.

Posted by: Fisher618 | June 16, 2015 10:31 AM    Report this comment

Hollywood Feed based in Memphis. They carry only the highest quality dog and cat food available including raw foods. They have a knowledgeable, professional staff. Without them in and around Memphis, we would have only national chains and very limited choices.

Posted by: jcash | June 16, 2015 10:26 AM    Report this comment

Paws on the Avenue in Lake Worth, FL. The owner, Caroline Clore, is the best informed person I've ever met about pet foods. She actually visits the factories that make the food she carries on a regular basis to be sure they're doing what they say they do. I don't think there's a question she can't answer about anything in her store and I don't know what I'd do without her guidance. She's pretty nice too and never hesitates to help where ever she can. If you're in South Florida, I highly recommend a visit; you'll enjoy it!

Posted by: Jayne | June 16, 2015 10:02 AM    Report this comment

For Other Living Things, in Sunnyvale, CA. Family owned and staffed. They are very particular about the products they provide for sale. They regularly host adoption events from rescue organizations for cats, rats, and rabbits, as well as bird ownership and other types of seminars.

Posted by: Kathi | June 16, 2015 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Floppy Pets in Seabrook, TX!

Posted by: hareynolds | June 16, 2015 9:56 AM    Report this comment

Total Dog Company in New Hope, MN (but I'm biased--I'm the owner).

Posted by: susanschnauzer | June 16, 2015 9:50 AM    Report this comment

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