Why I Shop at the Local Pet Boutique (and You Should Too)

Let’s start by saying that I’m no saint. I do shop at the major pet retailers. I have been known to darken the doors of the mega-retailer of all-things-that-can-be-sold. And yes, I do buy online.

But my heart, and a significant portion of my budget for animal care products, is with local small business owners such as the local pet boutique in Dothan, Alabama, called For Pets Sake.

For Pet's Sake in Dothan, AL
For Pet’s Sake in Dothan, AL

Why should you buy from a local boutique pet store?

You support a local small business owner– You don’t have to be an economist to know that when you buy from a big box retailer, a significant portion of the profits leave your community. When you buy from local business owners, you know the profits will be spent in your community by the people who work there.

You have a resource for information about the products they carry– Oh, I know, you do all your own research. But if you don’t have the time, or, like me, you don’t understand all the ins and outs of pet nutrition, your local small business owner can help. That’s their livelihood, so a good business owner will be in the know. When DeDe’s brand of food was recalled, I was able to talk to the owner about what her health issues are, and the owner recommended a comparable food to meet her needs.

Small business owners have much more than just food to offer you!
Small business owners have much more than just food to offer you!

Many local stores carry specialty foods that aren’t carried by other retailers. As I’ve said before, DeDe has special dietary needs because of food allergies. Developing a relationship with a local store owner helps me in that I know where I can always buy her food. And because most small business owners keep up with recalls, I can trust that if there’s a problem with any of the foods I buy, I’ll be made aware of it.

If you need a product they don’t carry, small businesses may be able to get it for you. I supplement the dogs’ diet with The Honest Kitchen. My local store carries this product, but didn’t have the Zeal, which is the one DeDe likes and can eat. All I had to do was ask, and an order was made. Yes, I could have ordered it online, but this is more than just buying. This is about forming relationships with business owners that are beneficial to both.

Many small boutique stores don’t sell animals. The big box retailers may not sell dogs or cats, but they DO sell animals. If we want to have stores that don’t sell animals, we need to support the stores that don’t sell animals. Find that local retailer that doesn’t, and give them your business. Put your money where your heart is, and don’t shop where animals are sold.

And this store bakes cookies!
And this store bakes cookies!

Some of you are thinking that you can’t shop at a small store like this because you can’t afford it. It’s a misnomer that small businesses charge more. To be sure, any business won’t stay in business for long if they don’t make a profit. But when I walk into my local pet store, I see foods, supplements, and toys that the big box retailers simply don’t carry. You get what you pay for. And for all the services small boutiques offer, they provide their customers a real bargain.

So, do you have a local small business owner you support? Tell us about it in the comments below.

58 thoughts on “Why I Shop at the Local Pet Boutique (and You Should Too)

  1. Oh that looks like a WONDERFUL store and bravo to you for supporting the local merchants…..you’re right – there are a lot of positive about going the route of “local” vs. “big box” and they are the reasons you mention. They tend to carry more really GOOD things for pets. Love the name of that store too – very clever!!

    Pam

    1. The owners of this store went into business after their own dog developed health problems and they couldn’t find locally the foods they needed to ensure his good health!

  2. We always shop at small businesses too. We have been lucky that we have had stores nearby to walk to. My biggest annoyance though is how I can get our Earth Rated Poop Bags for $5.99 a box at big box retailers and our small retailer sells them for $12.99. So instead we purchase them from a family online Pet Store located here in the Toronto area instead and they get delivered to our door! Win-Win!

    1. Sometimes the reason you get things cheaper at big box retailers is they only agree to carry a product if they get a cut-rate deal. So by buying there you really aren’t helping the company that makes the product.

  3. I have always shopped at small pet boutiques. One of my favorites here in Michigan is Backdoor Friends Cat Hotel and Cat Shop (yes it s also a boarding facility) I have bought TONS of fabulous things there. As a matter of fact, Bobo’s urn was bought there and when he was alive, MANY of his toys

  4. We have a pet store here in Charlotte NC called The Canine Cafe. Their bakery is downstairs, so you know all if their bakery treats are fresh! They also celebrate holidays and have yappy hour events! It is a fantastic little place!!

  5. We don’t have any family run pet supply shops locally (except for a wonderful dog bakery!) but I try to buy from my vet when I can. She is a one person business and she sells specialty foods and all kinds of cat pet stuff that I didn’t even think of. Vets don’t make a lot of money (at least here) and it’s another way for her to keep her prices affordable. Totally agree with you.

  6. Our humans found super cool stuff in a recently-discovered store. One was full of powerful nip and Texas get stop licking it MOL!
    So yes, the humans can find some amazing things in local pet stores.

    I also wanted to thank you for your birthday wishes for my purrthday, on Texas’ blog. I know I am terribly terribly late, and I apologize and so I send you plenty of purrs!

  7. We like to support local business and we do shop local businesses for many different things including pet stuff but it doesn’t always work out.

  8. We prefer to shop at our local pet owned store, heck the prices are even much better than the big chain stores… unfortunately they do sell small animals, but are highly supportive of the rescues. There is a special place in the store just for the rescue groups and they are there every weekend finding forever homes.

      1. I know the conditions are worse, that is why I am going to SuperZoo next week… I would love to open up my own brick and mortar boutique!! We have one in our town that doesn’t sell pets but they are so mean and rude, I don’t go in there anymore.

  9. That is a wonderful store and I agree with you and try my best to shop small and local when I can. I also like to support my friends who have pet inspired items that they have made personally, with a portion of the proceeds going to animal rescue. One such of these friends is Liz Wyman of Cats Love Naps who makes wonderful homemade pet beds from recycled towels and blankets.

    1. Yes. These are our neighbors. Besides, when have you ever gone into the W store and had someone know anything about anything they sell? Shoot, half the time I can’t even find someone on the floor.

  10. I love my local pet stores but the smaller ones are scarily expensive at times, and when the exact same product is available elsewhere at a fraction of the price… that said my local store is currently a very large one covering all the animal needs you could think of so no cause for complaint!

    1. When large retailers carry products for less than smaller retailers, you have to ask yourself why. And sometimes it’s because the large retailers are undercutting the local merchant to run them out of business.

      1. Oh, and when they do run that local merchant out of business, not only will your community suffer, but that low price won’t be so low anymore.

  11. I can’t get over the bakery case they have, that’s so cool! I wish we had a place like that here in Wichita and if we do someone needs to tell me about it!

    I will say though that my hubby and I do try to shop and dine as local as we can, we like to support the smaller businesses.

  12. I love the way you live your life so mindfully, and how you pass it on. Excellent post. And always love pics 🙂

    1. The truth is it’s our nature to be selfish. But we must be mindful of what’s in our best interest, and not just make rash decisions based on what’s in front of us. Saving a few pennies today might LOOK like it’s the best thing for ME, but in the long run, having this business around IS really the best thing for ME.

  13. In addition to being a good, responsible consumer (agree 100% with supporting local vs big box) I think you find better quality products.

    I feed my dogs an excellent high Omega Chia Treat that is only at boutique shops because they are made in small batches opposed to “Made in China” with god only knows what ingredients.

    BTW, The treats are made by SMARTCOOKEE Company.

  14. Wow! For Pet’s Sake looks like a terrific store! We like to support our local retailers, too. 🙂

  15. That home-made cookies look so delicious! Our small local store makes their home-made things, too! I agree with you Rumpy, those small stores are much more friendly and give us warmhearted services that the big store doesn’t give…it’s very important to support your locals and we DO love to do it, too! 🙂
    Have a lovely weekend!

  16. We love our local store: Pet Depot in Annandale, NSW {Australia} – with Beary’s sensitive tummy they’re great and always know what we’ve tried and are super friendly. They also have a great special when you buy bags of kibble – buy 10, get the next one free, no matter which brand or size. Great idea huh? Lucky they don’t do home made cookies or mumma would go broke!!

  17. I’ve been both pleasantly surprised and seriously annoyed by local pet stores. Sometimes the fact that they’re so small and have no supervision, no one checking their supplies means turtles with cysts on their neck in moldy water. I wanted to scream, rahh!!! And the worst thing is, here in Belgium there’s not even an official instance yet that can act upon it… no law.. nop.
    Lots of people have been trying to get rules going for years but it keeps failing.

  18. I entirely agree with you in principle, but reality is bent in another direction. We live in a very small town. The only pet store — not counting PetSmart at the mall — carries a limited selection of whatever. The selection of food isn’t stuff I’d ever use. Food is 90% of what we buy. The rest are biscuits. We don’t buy dog toys anymore and I have enough leashes, collars and so on to last for 100 years at least. Our local PetSmart has served us surprisingly well. And unlike the little local pet store employing only its owners, PetSmart employs a lot of my neighbors.

  19. Great post, Rumpy and so true! Our local family-owned shop is always willing to place orders for us. They are so nice and really care about all the pets and pet owners in our community!
    *high paws*
    Oz

  20. We have a number of boutiques here. Sadly, most don’t last long because they aren’t making enough money to support the business. But one that has been here a long time is Pawsh Wash. It is more than just a place you can take your dog for a bath (either self-wash or professional groomer). It also has specialty dog foods, lots of unique dog toys, dog collars, dog treats, etc.

  21. We’re lucky to have a great local pet supply in Ithaca. They’ve been in business for many years and don’t seem to be hurting with a Petsmart a couple miles down the road.

    I do, however, find two of my values colliding. I don’t own a car and the local pet supply is located in a wackadoo intersection where 6 different roads come together. I’ve been there on my bicycle but I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands to do it.

    Today, I rented a car to do some errands so I decided to stock up at the pet supply. After all, if I get hit in a car, I’ll probably only get a little neck ache. 🙂

    Great post. I think it’s very important to shop locally for all the reasons you mentioned.

  22. Pawsome Rumpy! I shop at a local pet treat place too! They bake cookies, so I call it the cookie store, but it’s name is really 3 Dogs & a Chick. 😀
    Hugs,
    Pepper

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