community, particularly for young families
with small children, in what he refers to as
the “zoo factor.”
“It’s the overall package that is import-
ant to us,” he said. “We get a lot of com-
ments from parents saying things like, ‘My
kids are constantly asking to go to Coun-
tryMax to look at the animals.’ These folks
may not necessarily be in the market for
an animal, but that connection has really
Field trips from local schools are also
welcomed. In addition, involvement with
local rescue and shelter organizations are
integral, with adoptions days held on a reg-
ular basis throughout the organization.
Pet-loving families often participate in
store events such as holiday photo days or
take advantage of the frequent microchipping and vaccination clinics that take place
at varying locations.
There’s plenty going on, and a recent
addition, the CountryMax Event Room,
provides a venue for all manner of activities, including promotional seminars,
adoption days, birthday parties, employee
trainings and more.
“These nice post-and-beam rooms with
television and internet access are used all
across the board,” Payne said.
DOGS, CATS, GARDENS AND MORE
Approximately 40 to 45 percent of business at CountryMax comprises dog and
cat foods, treats, supplements and supplies,
according to Payne. Food selections run the
gamut from kibble to frozen raw, freeze
dried, canned and dehydrated.
“It’s extremely critical that we do a good
job on the pet side of our business,” he said.
“When we first started out, had we known
the amount of blue poo bags we’d be sell-
ing today, I’d have been amazed. It’s just
CountryMax associates, or “pet care
guides,” undergo training from manufac-
turers, study internet resources and expe-
rience plenty of on-the-job tutelage.
“It’s a process that works for us,” Payne
said. “Along with overseeing all of our
animals, it’s important to have staff that is
capable of answering questions, so our ed-
ucation is ongoing.”
Following right behind pet supplies in
volume percentage is the lawn and garden
department, where the intrepid gardener
will find a diverse selection of plants, seed,
soil, tools, pond supplies and more.
“We have four very strong seasons here,
and come springtime, lawn and garden
commands that time slot,” he said. “It’s like
Christmas in July.”
In the frigid winter months, wild
bird feed and supplies take a turn in the
Other offerings include an equine center
featuring tack, supplements, riding equipment and other horse needs. The farm and
stable center includes myriad livestock
supplies, including feed. Fencing, poultry
supplies and bedding round out selections.
A clothing center stocks jackets, socks,
shoes, gloves and hats. Hardware and specialty foods are also in the mix.
Online ordering services are available,
with goods ready and waiting when shoppers arrive for pickup. Additionally, many
customers take advantage of the carry-out
“Carry out is near and dear to our
hearts,” Payne said. “We have so many
products, and a lot of them have a little bit
of heft. This way, we can get the items right
to the car.”
He noted that providing outstanding
customer service is a vital differentiator in
“The term ‘customer service’ is like
white noise, but our push has been to
get down to what this really means,” he
said. “It’s what every retailer is trying to
do, so it’s important that our service be
Consumers investigating a retail business generally
trust peer recommendations and often turn to
online reviews as the first line of inquiry. Positive
testimonials frequently drive the decision-making
For retailers, that coveted five-star review can
mean the difference between a new customer walking in the door or passing by to the next competitor.
CountryMax has garnered plenty of these
stellar marks and comments—and cleanliness, the
broad range of product selections and outstanding
customer service are frequently cited attributes.
Here is a look at some of the positive online
reviews the company has received on Yelp.com:
“Love this store so much! I shop for all my guin-
ea pig and horse needs at CountryMax. The nice,
brand-new store is very well lit, organized and clean
with helpful, friendly staff members as well.”
“The atmosphere here is amazing. Walk in and
you are greeted instantly! My family and I went
back to the pet section and the setups are beautiful;
it’s obvious they really care about the animals. The
prices are great and staff members are so nice and
willing to chat with us.”
New construction received accolades:
“So much more space inside the new store
and in the parking lot. Large choice in pet supply,
and I spent a good amount of time looking at all the
different birdhouses and feeders. So many options!
The same goes for the variety of wild bird seed.”
“Beautiful new location! Spacious, clean, well
organized. I love their small pet area where the
guinea pigs have their hidey igloos and windows to
Remodels also elicited nods:
“The newly remodeled CountryMax is
amazing—there is so much more room and space.
CountryMax carries so many things, from gardening
to horse feed to all things pet related.”
Finally, the intertwining selection of product is
what many find attractive:
“They have everything! A huge selection for every pet, or home and garden need, and great people
who are totally ready to help. I had a question about
a product, and the associate was so knowledgeable
and helpful. The store is spacious and beautiful.”
IT’S IN THE REVIEWS
A live-animal manager oversees caretaking duties, traveling
to every location on a regular basis to provide education and
mentorship to store personnel.
Newer sites offer self-serve
dog-washing facilities, with
tubs placed in quiet, cozy
rooms within the main store.
CountryMax stores feature custom
bird and pet cages, where customers
can shop for live animals.