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  1. Sherrie Ashenbremer

    I purchase my dog food from the list you provide, many of those pet food makers are smaller businesses. It is very scary to me that the big food companies are buying pet food business and pushing the little guys out. Maybe I really need to study on making my own dog food! Thank you for this information

  2. Debi

    Sad about, did not know this, thank you for the info., am going to shop at the little local pet food store that as you say, knows all about the foods they sell.

  3. christina swanson

    Sad about chewy, it sold many of the good food grade brands that petsmart/petco wouldn’t. Plus they were willing to stock brands once brought to their attention.

    1. Sara

      Hi Christina,

      It really is sad about! My heart sunk as I read this article and immediately called Chewy to inquire about the sale. My biggest fear is what made Chewy an exceptional company will change to its detriment and in turn it’s loyal customers.


    2. Maggie Champaigne

      PetSmart isn’t ALLOWED to sell those brands, so I’m wondering if will still be able to.

  4. Keith H

    Fyi…PetSmart is not a publically traded company.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I was repeating information found on – “Although PetSmart is public and Petco privately held, the two companies share a number of similarities.”

  5. Sharon Bilotta-Testa

    Knew it would happen it sux but I and many other Chewy customers were told prices will be the same as well as the 2 day free shipping when u spend $49…we can only hope if not then…Sooo Long it’s been swell

  6. Darlene

    Keith is correct. Petsmart was purchased by private equity a few years ago and is no longer a publicly traded company.Not that it matters much for the gist of what Susan is saying….basically I feel consolidation of the pet industry is not a good thing for consumers, and we need to support the smaller independent companies. Sadly though that seems to be a losing battle.

  7. Cmacinstagram

    A number of pet food brands do not sell to large pet stores because they can’t meet the demand or they can’t afford the stock required to supply a large chain. I have worked for a large retailer and some employees are very passionate and do research beyond the marketing (unfortunately not enough of them). As a side note PetSmart is not publicly traded…went private about 3 years ago. I can only assume the move to acquire is to fill a gap in their expertise. Online has been putting the pressure on bricks and mortar stores for years. Easier to acquire than to build the infrastructure….can’t beat them, buy them.

    Buy local and support your neighbors! Independent stores support your community and have passion and knowledge to share support them so they can continue to prosper and give back!

  8. Ian

    The story I read about this merger, said Chewy’s secret to “success” had been in part attributed to personalized service including hand written notes and Christmas cards, but that despite their huge growth and sales numbers they are still not profitable, but have been able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capital investors. So, you know, at a certain level, it really is ultimately all about financial dealmakers and not people who are passionate about pet food nutrition and pet health.

  9. Dean

    Glad for the info…no longer buying at chewy. Small, independent boutique stores are a rip off and I won’t support them either.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I disagree with you Dean – most small independent pet foods stores are not “a rip off”. The knowledge they share with customers is a HUGE value. I know many of these store owners – have also known many that went out of business because the markup on their foods wasn’t high enough to allow them to survive – but they had to try to complete with the giant online retailers who get ‘deals’ from many manufacturers on price.

      1. Peter

        Yes, and sadly, many consumers start their journey with smaller, independent pet stores, then move on to repeat buy from Chewy’s, with no loyalty… much less tinged with a bit of guilt.

        1. Michelle Richards

          I began buying from Chewy because they carried Nature’s Logic and Acana…. I wanted synthetic-free, made in USA. No pre spray from China. I guess I will have to follow Dr.Karen Becker’s advice on how to make my dog food at home. What a pain,, but I’ve already lost one beloved pet to liver toxicity.

    2. Maggie Champaigne

      Just FYI, the markup on food, treats, and supplements is about 30%. You make very very little off of food. There is a suggested retail price on everything, which stores should generally be at or near. Small stores can’t often buy in bulk to get major discounts like the big box places can. Although honestly, people assume PetSmart has better prices — but in my experience at independently owned stores, they often don’t, aside from specific sales.

  10. Paula

    The sale of Chewy is disturbing. I used to shop at a local store that attempts to and means to do what you suggest but I found their level of knowledge was much less than my own — which is based on extensive “googling”. I expect the store owner to know more than I do. For someone to be truly knowledgeable it takes hours and hours and the folks in the local stores don’t seem to take the time. I was trying to find out what was going on with Orijen regarding the US plant. The Chewy rep was much, much more knowledgeable than the local highly respected store. The food has later dates from Chewy than from the local store. The local store has to buy from regional suppliers whose volumes are much smaller than Chewy. With the local store I have to place an order, they place an order from the wholesaler, then we wait for it to come in or not come in days or a week later (the wholesaler does not have real time inventory), and I drive a half hour each way to pick it up. I do NOT work for Chewy, but have found the availability of the products I want (most of which are not stocked anywhere locally) and service exceptional. I hope Petsmart doesn’t screw it up. The middleman wholesaler the local stores use creates a quality issue (old product sometimes) and impossibility of determining inventory. Perhaps it is different elsewhere in the country. I am in Connecticut (Tolland County near Hartford County). If I had a great store with folks who really know the food products, I would buy from them and I would pay a premium. I wouldn’t ask Chewy for advice on foods, but I couldn’t ask the local store either. 🙁

    1. Reader

      I’m a big believer in people speaking up. Or nothing changes for the better. Does your local Store even know your concerns? Otherwise they can’t begin to compete. Are there apathetic employees? Does the Owner understand your frustration? And how it’s a lost sale? It might bear repeating. Including a written follow-up.

      From the talk given last night (see my other comment) Dr. Patton demonstrated the subject of “nutrition” is one of the most complicated sciences, because it touches so many interconnected fields. The only “knowledge” an Independent Store Owner gets, … IS from the Sales Rep (or Distributor) because they’re pushing the products. In the end, the consumer is responsible for their own pet’s best interests. It’s OUR job to find proper information. [Look, we’ve all made it here to TAPF]. Which gives us the basis to ask the right question of our Retailers. Like, is the USDA protein approved for human consumption? When you ask those kinds of questions, it forces the Retailer (if they’re honest) to find out! And you’ll know if they’re being honest, by comparing their responses to TAPF!

      My comment also said, WE need to make Retailers accountable for their products. That isn’t the same as having general animal nutrition knowledge. Just understanding WHY …and which … products demonstrate quality and safety! Exactly the way Susan “vets” them on this site. If they don’t know about Orijen’s business status, well that’s more of an “industry” question. Their Sales Rep / Distributor is probably keeping mum, so as not to scare away sales. But any of us can do the research on-line or by calling the company. Sometimes it takes more than one call, and moving up the chain of authority. Then give that feedback to the Retailer. For example, at my local store, during Evangers recall, I saw Hunk of Beef on the shelf. I knew, they knew, the situation. But I called it out (privately). That recipe is gone. I tell Stores about using TAPF as a resource. Frankly they probably don’t like to see me coming. But they also know I operate from education and awareness. They may not be fans of TAPF (because it can be alarming) but knowing it exists, and that people read it, only helps them stay ahead of the game.

      Ordering shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve used Independents who’ve gotten a product in TWO days! And that’s because they have a very good relationship with their Distributor. But it’s only fair to expect weekly deliveries. People have to plan ahead. Our Store offers delivery (on a minimum purchase). But again, if more customers asked for it, at least a Store could try and compete. For longer deliveries, maybe a Retailer can split the fee, or discount the product. These suggestions only mean to say, we have to protect our Independent Stores (to keep the Chain Stores honest).Otherwise, lack of choice will rule the market! It’s no accident these Chain stores are bringing in more “boutique” products. For example, Petco is currently testing a product to compete with THK! Even so, whatever has been offering, I don’t see how PetSmart’s biggest brands, (like Blue Buffalo) with their in-store Reps, won’t be pushing back on any competing service platform. And they’ll do so by leveraging preferred price-points given to PetSmart (not for customer benefit) but for the Store’s profit margin! This situation is no different than Walmart buying up Amazon to eliminate that competition. But instead, they’ve figured out how it’s necessary to offer a competing platform, but one which THEY control, and provides a complete shopping experience.

  11. B Dawson

    Thank you for your support of the small independent pet food retailers Susan. I closed my store in 2011 mostly to relocate closer to aging parents but also because I think independents are heading into a tough time.

    Independents used to compete on knowledge and service. Now however, consumers want to shop online during lunch and have it delivered to their door. It’s tough to compete with that. An added insult is brands that independents help to build selling direct to the public. While they may sell at the same price, it’s that darn “convenience” thing. The last two years I was open it became obvious that a growing number of people were using the shop as a showroom. The acquisition of – and allowing it to continue operating as an independent subsidiary – now gives Petsmart profits from brands that wouldn’t sell to big box stores.

    On a different topic….A Chinese company manufacturing in the US gets to say “Made in the USA” thereby thwarting those who don’t want to purchase Chinese ingredients. It’s a brilliant strategy really, isn’t it? Import the same crap ingredients but hide behind a US manufacturing plant.

    1. Reader

      Our local Independent Store (NorCal’s Bens BarketPlace) deserves a shout-out! They don’t just sell higher priced products. Or answer questions to make a sale.They engage their customers through education. Support them through a transition process. And individualize help for special issues.

      Tonight they hosted a talk given by Dr. Richard Patton, PHD (Animal Nutritionist) on the Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition. He did such a fantastic job of explaining good pet nutrition, the audience was dumb founded at the end (in a good way!). He actually had to encourage questions! Meaning, people weren’t raising the usual criticisms or skepticisms, or pushing-back with their own personal anecdotes. They’d come (apparently) open-minded. And people were like …“Yeah, we couldn’t agree more! Nutritious feeding makes sense!” He happened to be there supported by Vital Essentials. But his talk had nothing to do with selling a particular brand.

      The point is to say people really don’t know … what they don’t know. Shopping has changed, yes. It “can” be about convenience and economy. But it “will be” about paying more for a product WHEN they understand why. So merchants have to show some extra effort. This store made it a RSVP kind of event (to drum up interest!). They stayed open late. Endured all the tedious pet owner “stories.” And provided a rare opportunity to connect with Dr. Patton. [Because of TAPF I was able to ask questions we’ve been taught].

      It’s exactly when people “don’t” know … the real trick becomes ,,,,how can merchants give a customer a reason to change? I’m not an easy buyer in any sense (even though I feed raw) but happily left the store ready to try an even better product – because the reason had been justified! Education was made compelling AND convenient!! I think we should give up the idea that our Vets are going to be providing this service. And expect more from our sellers who should really be holding that responsibility.

      [And I think the label should be changed from Made in the USA to Sourced and Produced in the USA).

  12. Debbie

    My one local pet food store doesn’t know anything about the foods they sell either-They are in the business of selling and that is it-Too busy to talk.

  13. Lisa Marie

    I actually have experience from both sides of the coin for about 10 years: having worked for three pet food companies, two of them doing demos from big box / Petco stores, another, working out of indy stores in NYC. Now, I help manage an indy store in NYC, trying my best to help pet owners feed the best, least processed diets for their animal companions, trying to find something compatible for everyone given the vast differences in what people are able to afford, as well as helping people with non-food related issues (non-toxic products for their pets, flea control, etc.).

    I always tell customers, “Pet food companies are like cable TV channels – there are hundreds of them but only a handful that are any good.” Having a legal research background, I try to keep up with info, e.g., visiting TAPF, reading articles from holistic vets, industry news, blogs / forums, trying to help others and learn as much as possible, asking questions, taking it all in … I really love what I do.

    When I first started working at the indy store, the owner (a long-time friend who has three stores and has been in business more than 25 years) told me I would see a pattern among customers: “If you spend a lot of time with them answering questions, they’ll use you and then shop elsewhere — online, for cheaper prices.” I’ve also shopped at Chewy in the past so I can relate. I thought maybe the owner was being cynical but you know what? He was right. Customers mostly come in and pick my brain, wanting info from me, get the answers they need and then head off to Chewy. They’ll come in occasionally for some small item and then tell me how much cheaper it is online.

    People don’t realize that more often than not, the markups for products varies little between what the distributors charge us, not to mention rent (esp here in NYC), overhead, etc. No indy pet supply retailer goes into the business to kick back and get rich.

    In a few years I might have the possibility of owning my own business; I considered starting a holistic pet supply shop (with NO kibble for cats 🙂 but I’ve decided against it, as B. Dawson mentioned, indy stores have too difficult a time.

    1. Ian

      Well, you could do a hybrid brick and mortar store with online sales as well. Many brands won’t sell to you anymore unless you do have a brick and mortar store (they have enough online-only vendors, and probably sell direct online themselves as well), but once you do get the account with your local store, you could then also store, stock, and ship from Amazon. You can also have Amazon warehouse and ship sales you make at your own private website (Fulfillment by Amazon). I still see opportunities at Amazon for pet food with many decent quality brands poorly represented in Prime. You could share your knowledge online at your branded website and through social media and in your local store and become an expert online as well as in store. The hardest thing for big companies to do is create content and actually be knowledgeable about what they sell; this does attract people to certain smaller vendors online.

      1. Reader

        That’s a really great model, and maybe is the future of business. I don’t understand the restrictions you’ve mentioned. But like how customers could go through a website for support and access.

        One thing about Store Owner’s suggestions though, is that while they’ll recommend something, they won’t knock anything (they’re selling). Because it would generate bad press among customers and negate the sale of a particular brand. That’s why I think they should become better versed in the fundamentals of quality and safety. (TAPF is such an easy place to get started). I LIKE the idea about how Susan has posted all those brands in the Petsumer Report, along with positive and negative factors (explaining why). But always allowing the pet owner to make the choice based on information and comparison.

        So, in the website model you propose, there should definitely be a link to TAPF and educational resources (especially for cat owners!).

  14. Lucy

    I found this website because of something I had watched on Netflix …. and thank goodness I did because I had no idea about Petsmart taking over Chewy 🙁 I’m so sad about this!!! I will now stop shopping at Chewy

    1. Terry L.

      Ditto that!

  15. Catherine

    There are not many in my area, but our local independent stores don’t carry both of the very specific items I want – I want the Orijen made in Canada, NOT in Kentucky. And Ziwipeak. So I had to hunt online to get them. Because I use these only as a supplement to a raw diet, I need very small quantities so I completely understand why a store might not want to get one or the other just for me.
    And it just keeps getting harder and harder to find the Canadian Orijen… After reading about the basically complete lack of any requirements for pet food manufacturers in the US, I am almost at the point where US manufactured pet product is in the same class as China… Are we supposed to just take their WORD that they only use locally raised protein sources? (which is what Orijen claims for its Kentucky plant) Their claims are awesome, but where’s the evidence? no USDA (human grade) inspection either. The Canada product is inspected by Canadian inspectors and has to meet at least some actual standards.

    I have also called Chewey to ask questions about the dog food products they sell (and if they can get what I am looking for) and, as other folks have mentioned, I have found them exceptionally helpful, if they didn’t know the answer, they tried to find out – like some of the local independents have done. But sadly, they can’t make any changes as to what they can sell. (It was nice to know that the unsatisfying answers I got about the Orijen Kentucky plant were the same ones that the Chewey folks got.)

    Try doing that with Petsmart – haha! The universal deer-in-the-headlights looks you get would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

  16. Terry L.

    One thing that has changed at that is very disappointing; food, litter, whatever that doesn’t work out has to be returned. We can no longer donate it to needy shelters. That’s a big change.

    1. Sara

      I just had that happen today were they require return of the food. I’m going to switch and start ordering from I have a prime membership so 2 day shipping with no minimum. The donations to shelters was a wonderful policy and didn’t cost them anything as it was a tax write-off. Not only that, customer service has changed to a big call center. I know a lot of people who will change to a different online company such as

      1. O. Catt

        Agree with you Sara and Terry L. !!!

    2. Ian

      Yes, I mentioned in a previous comment that despite Chewy’s rapid pace of growth and huge volume of sales, they are still apparently losing money. The growth has been financed by huge cash infusions from venture capitalists. So inevitably they do finally have to start taking action to get their balance sheets into the “black” to pay back those investors…. shipping costs, returns, exchanges, and location of customer service centers are always the most expensive items that are first to get targeted in the elusive quest for online profitability. Amazon’s profit margin is currently at 1.7% (yes less than 2%) after many years of losing money in the name of growth, so it’s a very fine line for online vendors to compete on price as aggressively as you have to and still make some kind of profit.

    3. O. Catt

      Yes it is and it’s a big deal – more than a hassle for old/disabled pet caregivers! Re-boxing heavy bulky items to return is nearly impossible … like boxes of kitty litter that were broken open and leaked out of packing boxes across country, for instance… too heavy for an old person to wrestle with for returning … customers just now have to deal with the loss and carry on like everything was delivered properly. Heavily dented cans too… Now I must purchase shipping tape just to return items that are unusable thru no fault of mine…. whatever discount there might be on suggested retail prices can be dissolved as things add up.

      1. Sara

        I agree completely! I, too, am an older disabled person and had to purchase more clear shipping tape as well. And, as you mentioned it’s a complete hassle especially when I derived such pleasure from donating items to needy shelters. That policy alone made shopping there better.

    4. O. Catt

      Terry, thanks for mentioning this – I thought it was just me they were insisting on returns from….food that made all the cats sick along with orders enroute before trying it and getting sick … then getting a complete refund was a big hassle too tho I finally was refunded for all I packaged up and returned. It’s a big enough deal selecting pet food these days – unexpected hassle has old pet parents buying extra blood-pressure meds.

      1. Terry L.

        You’re absolutely right. Ugh, it’s such a pain isn’t it?! Plus, printing labels, finding a box when I already disposed of the original one, boxing up heavy items, etc. Even the customer service people seem different and aloof.

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