and within six months, the first brick-and-mortar store welcomed customers. Today,
two locations, on the eastside and west-side of town, strive to make a difference
in the lives of pets and for the residents
“Our community has driven the business since day one, and we keep growing
around that connection,” says Stephanie
Michelle, community events coordinator.
The sales staff is encouraged to cultivate personal ties with shoppers, stoking
a thriving relationship with the citizens
“It’s all about establishing trust,” Michelle says.
Livable wages and a generous benefits
package support associates
in considering Bend Pet Ex-
press a career choice.
Empowerment is another
key component to the store
culture, and that sense in-
cludes listening to the voices
of staff members during the
product selection process.
“If we find a need for a
particular product, we will
discuss it with the staff first
for feedback,” Michelle says.
“However, it is often the
other way around, and our
people will talk to us about a
product that may or may not
be working, or something
they’d like to see included
in our inventory.”
With education at the
core of the Bend Pet Express
ideology, a passion for animals and the pursuit of
knowledge are sought-after
qualities in a new hire. Once
on board, tutelage includes 30 days of
initial training, and continuing education
is an ongoing process. This competence,
combined with stellar product offerings,
has cemented the company’s status as
Bend’s “go-to” pet store.
STRESS-FREE AND LOCAL
Foods in the product lineup are free
from corn, wheat and soy, with nothing
sourced from China. In response to expanding demand for more biologically
appropriate diets, seven freezers of raw
foods stand at the ready.
“Our mix encompasses the most
chi-chi gourmet raw to everything in
between, including dehydrated and
freeze-dried,” McCohan says. “We also
carry high-quality kibble that will fit
most people’s budget, but there won’t
be any junk in it.”
A full range of pet supplies greets
shoppers, and sourcing garners particu-
“We carry a lot of USA-made items,
and many that are manufactured in Ore-
gon,” McCohan says. “When we can get
products that originate here in Bend, we
really make a big deal of it.”
It’s all about fostering empowerment
when assisting customers in product se-
lection, and to this end, three appropri-
ate choices are generally recommended.
From there, the decision rests with the pet
owner as to which option will best suit the
needs of their pet.
Dirty pooches looking for a cleanup
can luxuriate in a sudsy soak at the eastside location’s self-serve dog wash. Additionally, non-do-it-yourselfers are welcome to hand Fido off to a store bather for
a good lather or a little extra spa therapy,
where employees utilize the same facility
and product as self-bathing patrons.
“About four years ago, we began to
focus on creating a stress-free, spalike en-
vironment,” Michelle says. “Our bathers
don’t do any cutting or scissoring; it’s all
about the bath.”
As with sales associates, the opinions
of folks working in the bathing area “are
central to creating a better bathing experi-
ence. Trainees hone their bathing skills by
practicing with the dogs of fellow staffers.
“Our bathing employees have backgrounds in husbandry or volunteering
and have come up with great ideas in reducing stress,” Michelle says.
THE HOME FIRES
In-store promotions run the gamut of pet
needs. For example, September focuses
on nutrition, with weekly themes that
might feature meal mixers one week,
followed by joint supplements or quality
protein. In November, veterans are saluted with seven days of discount shopping.
Come snowy December, the Keep Them
Warm campaign calls attention to jackets
and coats, or interactive toys and chews
for housebound pets needing more indoor stimulation.
Educational workshops are also at
the forefront, with presentations by local
shelter representatives, Bend Pet Express
staffers and others. For example, a Feral
Cat Day event taught children about ear
tipping and the local trap and release program, while a first aid discussion included
a take-home kit.
What is Bend Pet Express best known for?
Kim McCohan: Our knowledgeable customer
service and our involvement with pets and
What is the biggest challenge for pet
McCohan: Online sales. We sell online as well
but obviously cannot compete with the big
sellers. So we are trying to educate the public
to use caution when ordering online. We point
out issues such as product warehousing. Is it
climate controlled? What are the expiration
dates of the delivered product? How is the
food transported? We guarantee our foods,
which can easily be returned to our stores.
Biggest challenge for the pet industry
Stephanie Michelle: Consumers are
demanding better food and looking for the
same attributes that they value in their own
diets. While it’s a challenge for those of us in
the industry to catch up with these demands,
I believe it is an awesome positive.
Are you watching any interesting trends
Michelle: The growing awareness of food
sourcing. People are beginning to question
where supplies are coming from.
McCohan: Demand for CBD products. This
may not be the case in other states, but here
in Oregon, where marijuana is legal, demand
has blown up.
What do you see for the future of Bend Pet
McCohan: Bend Pet Express has done so
well for so many years because we’ve stayed
ahead of the game. We’re now looking at the
millennial age group and all the technology it
brings. We need to start looking at the destination aspect of our store. In this way, we
are looking at our upcoming restructuring as
a way to do things a little more from outside
of the box.
IT’S A RETAIL LIFE
A canine customer poses as a
“super pet” in front of a creative
display highlighting “super” products.
rocks left outside
of the store for a
week to support
the Bend Kindness