It’s your time to shine! Pet Product News is calling on pet specialty retail- ers, groomers and service providers to
apply for our annual Retailer of the Year
Awards, which aim to showcase the best
of the best in the industry.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, independent pet retailers must find
innovative ways to differentiate their
brands. Pet Product News wants
to honor businesses in the industry that have found ways
to survive and thrive in their
We’re looking to recognize
outstanding pet stores—single
stores, multiple stores, specialty
stores, boutiques, pet service establish-
ments—in numerous categories. What
innovative business, sales or management
techniques do you use to bolster business?
What brings your customers coming back
to your store on a regular basis? What
about your store embodies the indepen-
dent spirit? What have you done in the
past year to more effectively compete in
your market? Tell us how you pro-
mote pet welfare and well-be-
ing, the human-animal bond,
services offered, community
involvement, consumer edu-
cation efforts, as well as other
promotional and marketing ef-
forts, employment training and
retention, brilliant merchandising strat-
egies and more. Share why your store(s)
Download the submission form at pet
productnews.com, and mail or email it
along with supplemental material of your
choice—photos, media mentions, community commendations and business awards.
The deadline is April 2, 2018.
Pet Product News will announce the
winner at this year’s SuperZoo trade show
in Las Vegas in June and will profile the
Retailer of the Year, along with 11 category
winners throughout the year, all of whom
will join our Retailer Advisory Board.
Pet Product News’ 2018-2019
Retailer of the Year Nominations
Tell us why your store has what it takes to be ranked among the best of the best
for a chance to win Pet Product News’ Retailer of the Year competition!
YEAR of the
The deadline to enter
is April 2, 2018
TO SUBMIT YOUR
Pet Product News
Retailer of the Year
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SAGE’S PORT OF CALL
It’s been eight years since artist Jennifer Poncia of
Bend, Ore., decided to check out Bend Pet Express.
After hearing about its reputation for first-rate customer service and quality products, her first visit left a
“I’d ask questions and the sales staff was very
knowledgeable,” she says. “As I shopped, associates
respected my privacy, but when I needed help, they
Subsequently, Poncia’s beloved German wirehaired
pointer, Sage, loved visiting Bend Pet Express, and
when the two headed out for a morning walk, his
favorite store was often on the itinerary.
“We’d come out of our driveway, and he’d make a
beeline for Pet Express,” Poncia says.
With expediency the intent and sidewalks a
circuitous inconvenience, Sage would cut through
neighboring properties, devising the shortest route to
Sage’s favorite four-legged establishment.
“One morning he wanted an early walk, and
he was on task, so I knew we were headed to Pet
Express,” Poncia says. “We arrived before opening, but
Sage marched right up to the door and peered inside,
Eventually, Sage settled on the front door mat and
waited. The happy canine loved hanging with his Bend
Pet Express family, being greeted by name and taking a
little in-store amble.
“He loved to roam and sniff, and check out the
inventory or to sit behind the counter and observe,”
she says. “Staff members always brought him a little
treat. It was precious.”
With Sage’s diagnosis of cancer, the connection
grew, and concerned and caring staff members stood
by the pair until Sage passed away in 2016.
“They knew him when he was full of energy and
were part of the process throughout his illness,” she
said. “When times were tough, I’d go there, and it was
a very personal connection.”
This compassionate customer service has kept
Poncia coming back to shop for Melon, her recently
rescued pit bull/Rhodesian ridgeback mix.
“I see it regularly when I go in; I see sales staff
having great conversations about coats or harnesses
or different types of foods,” she says. “I feel good when
However, Sage’s presence still permeates his
favorite store. Eight months after his death, a calling
card was discovered.
“I received an email saying his name and rabies
tags had shown up at the store,” Poncia says. “We’d
lost those tags two years before on a walk and that
they surfaced at Pet Express, after all that time, is
with The Bend Spay and Neuter Project to co-found a community food bank.
Help Our Pets Eat, or HOPE, has served more than 10,000 families during this
time. Based upon food donations from distributors and vendors, the program
quickly outgrew its original storage warehouse, necessitating a move to a larger facility.
“The community just keeps guiding us on what this all looks like,” Michelle
says. “We provide product to groups like Meals on Wheels, the Homeless Lead-
ership Coalition, Veteran’s Outreach and local soup kitchens. We also have sites
where families can stop by to pick up supplemental foods for their pets.”
HOPE provides 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food per month on average, and in-
store events raise additional funding. For example, an annual Halloween party
and springtime Easter egg hunt are earmarked for this cause.
“In times when we have run low on food, we’ve put out a Facebook posting
asking for community assistance,” Michelle says. “We also have local volunteers
who come out to help with distribution.”
BACK TO BEGINNINGS
Bend Pet Express advertises in print, television and radio ads, in addition to
maintaining a blog and a presence on social media. However, 2018 will see a
marketing restructuring that will emphasize a one-on-one component within the
community of Bend.
“We feel as if we were missing the personal contact that people love,” McCo-
han says. “As one example, our staff will be visiting the local dog park wearing a
Bend Pet Express volunteer shirt and making connections there.”
This effort is also designed to embrace the millennial segment of the population.
“It’s a different generation, so we are basically turning to our staff to see what
would be fun and fantastic and make them comfortable and happy out in the
community as a representative of Bend Pet Express,” Michelle says. “We would
be disillusioned to believe that just staying a brick-and-mortar store, without
getting out in the community even more, would be a good move, and we are
excited to see where it all leads.”