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How to Choose the Best Pet Store

Looking for a good pet store can be quite confusing because of their quantity and diversity. Would you prefer to go with the national chain store, with their millions of products and a full array of animal services, along with online shopping? Or would you go with the smaller store that knows you by name and has hand-knitted dog scarfs? When comparing pet stores and checking reviews, there are many points to keep in mind.

What to Look for while Searching for Pet Stores

There are several points that you need to pay your attention to:

  1. Start by comparing prices between pet stores on the items you buy most often, like pet food. Choose the one that offers one of the lowest prices on most products you buy or flexible discount programs, for example, for buying in bulk.
  2. Look at the loyalty programs each store may have. See what kind of coupons they offer, what potential point systems are like and other details about how these programs work.
  3. Find out which store has the wider variety of products to choose from, either online or in-store.
  4. Check what pet store offers additional services, like veterinary care, training, boarding and grooming. Also, pay attention to the training and credentials of those professionals. For instance, veterinary care should be offered by Certified Vet Techs and/or Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. Apprenticeships and extensive on-the-job training means the groomers are proficient in their job. It’s a good idea to check if trainers have certifications like the CPDT-KA (from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) and the CDBC (from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants), which means that the trainer is up-to-date on skills and knowledge in their field.

How to Find a Pet Store with a Good Reputation

  1. You should start by looking at local listings of pet stores near you. You can find such places through a basic internet search.
  2. Once you have located a pet store nearby, start checking on what their reputation is. A good place to begin is to look at online reviews and complaints so you can avoid issues yourself, like rude customer service or poor product quality.
  3. You can also ask your friends, co-workers and neighbors what stores they like. This is a fast and simple way to find a shop that has a good reputation in the community.
  4. Visit the store and judge it for yourself. Take notice on if the store is clean, if the staff is helpful, if items are easy to find or anything else you value in a shopping experience.
  5. When in doubt, ask your vet for recommendations where to shop. Your vet may know which pet shops are reputable, since they are usually a key point of contact in the community for animal owners.

Chain, Independent or Online Pet Stores?

When deciding on pet stores, you have a few main options. You can go with chain stores that have multiple physical locations, independent stores that are locally owned or online retailers.

Physical Chain Stores

Pros

  • Many chain pet stores have better prices, as they can order merchandise in bulk and they may be able to get bulk deals with suppliers that can lower the cost for the consumer.
  • With chain shops, there are more locations around and they may be easier to get to.
  • Since chain pet stores are bigger, they may offer a wider selection of additional services like grooming.

Cons:

  • Customer service in a chain store may feel more “corporate,” or impersonal, since chains have a certain customer service standard to keep consistent across multiple locations.
  • It can be hard to find the specialty brands and products at chain pet shops that are more likely to stock well-known, national brands.

Independent Stores

Pros:

  • Smaller pet stores are thriving by offering unique products and services, like organic dog treats, handmade dog scarfs or chicken patties for animals.
  • An independent store is more likely to get to know you as a person, your animal and what sort of products you need, since the personalized touch is what positions them in the market against the chain retailers.

Cons:

  • With such pet shops, you may lose some of that large-scale convenience of the chain stores, like more locations, online shopping and more involved loyalty programs. Smaller stores may not have enough manpower or resources to offer those services.
  • Speaking of services, small stores may not offer other services, like boarding or training, because they tend to be more niche in their focus.
  • Small stores tend to be more expensive, especially for the specialty items like organic dog food or handmade dog toys.

Online Pet Stores

Pros:

  • There’s the added convenience of ordering something from home.
  • Online stores have a larger selection of products, since they are less limited by shelf space.
  • Prices may be even cheaper than in physical chain stores. It’s because there is less added overhead like the expenses on brick and mortar space and a customer service team for each store.

Cons:

  • You may have to pay extra for shipping.
  • Returns and order cancellation can be harder, since you have to mail back the items.
  • It’s inconvenient not to be able to view the product in person before purchasing. For instance, it can be difficult to understand how large or durable dog toys, cat toys or other pet toys are.
  • Ordering perishables like certain pet foods can be complicated. Especially when you cannot pick up the products at the time of delivery and it can be easily spoilt.

Should You Get a Pet Store Puppy?

When at the pet store, it may be tempting to get one of those adorable puppies. But getting a puppy from a pet store versus a breeder or a rescue is a complicated matter.

Pros

  • It’s easier to buy from a pet store. You just need to take a pet to the check-out line. Rescues often require more paperwork, and in some cases home checks.
  • You don’t need to search online for your own breeder and go through the effort of communicating with them.

Cons

  • Many pet stores are notorious for using puppy mills.
  • It can actually be more expensive to get a puppy from a pet store, since there’s usually a middleman and more background costs that go into operating a pet store.
  • Pet store puppies are often kept in cages that are too small for them, and there’s little way to verify that they are getting the care and socialization they need.
  • Some pet shops have been caught selling sick puppies.

Having adopted a pet you take up a long-time commitment to care for this animal till the end of its life. A good pet store with a wide range of services can make this task easier and much more affordable. All you need is a little time for search and comparing to guarantee pleasant shopping experience in the future.