27 October 2017 Pet Product News International
What is CountryMax best known
Don Payne: Our service, supplies and
the country-store feel that we have
developed over the years.
The greatest challenge for the
independent pet retailer?
DP: For every retailer, particularly in
the pet food side of things, that challenge is the internet. The difficulty we
all face is in losing customers, some
we don’t even know we’ve lost. It’s
massive. The days of knowing who
and where your competition is are
gone. Now it’s the cloud, and retailers
are not really sure who they are
swinging at. The internet is a game
changer when it comes to our pet
For the pet industry overall?
DP: As a whole, it’s trying to blend
online offerings with the brick-and-mortar stores. There’s a lot of information out there and a lot of options,
and it will continue to be a challenge
for brick-and-mortar stores to be
viable in their own communities.
Any interesting trends developing
right now in the industry?
DP: Certainly. We are watching the
push toward the minimum advertised price programs. Manufacturers,
as they come out of the gate with
a product, want as many sales as
possible, and the online business
is a good volume generator. Now
it’s turned into a question of how a
manufacturer is going to differentiate itself with brick-and-mortar
versus online organizations that
aren’t making an operating margin
yet are commanding a large portion
of the trade.
For the future of CountryMax?
DP: Continued growth. We are
a slow-growth company, but I
thoroughly believe that even with the
challenges of online business, the
products, offerings and our CountryMax format will attract customers in
the long term.
N. Y., a historic barn on the property once belonging to
a prominent farm family was restored to its original
“The Henrietta community has a very active historical
society,” Payne said. “We received an architectural heri-
tage for the barn renovation and have incorporated some
of the old farm equipment for use in the store décor.”
Themes in other area stores have paid tribute to early
area settlers or centered around local industry.
Newer sites offer self-serve dog-washing facilities,
with tubs placed in quiet, cozy rooms within the main
Pet boutique departments are another recent addition.
“Boutique products are basically available at every location, but we are able to showcase them in a better way
at the newer stores,” Payne said.
THE ZOO FACTOR
“While we don’t sell dogs or cats, we do offer fish, reptiles
and small animals, such as hamsters,” Payne said.
To the delight of youngsters and adults alike, the cli-mate-controlled Depot Room is a whimsical space where
a colorful replica of a train serves as housing for diminutive mammals. Creatures residing in the engine, cars and
caboose are visible through well-placed windows.
Those wishing to browse reptiles and fish do so in a
separate room where warmer temperatures are main-
tained. Bright aquarium displays line the walls alongside
a wide variety of neatly shelved supplies.
“It’s crucial to provide the right environment for every
animal, and, over time, we developed our room concept,”
Each space is decorated with vibrant artwork and
other adornments such as a miniature water tower and a
railroad crossing sign in the Depot Room.
A live-animal manager oversees caretaking duties,
traveling to every location on a regular basis to provide
education and mentorship to store personnel.
Payne noted that these offerings form a link to the
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