PetSmart: What Matters More, Low Prices Or Mom & Pop Reverence?

The new Brooklyn PetSmart mega-store at 238 Atlantic Avenue on the border of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, is taking a bite out of the 20 or so mom-and-pop pet stores within a two-mile radius, according to a post on

PetSmart opened last November to great fanfare, including a ribbon cutting by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. BHB readers have had plenty to say on the topic (see below), with the scale weighting toward the chain’s fair pricing, spotless interior and attentive service.

But DNA reports on the downside of the chain store, quoting such local owners as Kil Chung of the 12-year Smith Pet Food in Cobble Hill: “The day PetSmart opened, my business started to go down. They are killing me. Only money counts.” Chung claims he will soon be out of business, because he can’t afford to fill his store’s empty shelves.

Pet Boutique and Supplies on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope has also seen a decline. “Of course PetSmart is affecting us,” says staffer Mike Saadi. “We can’t compete with their prices.”

But there are, of course, two sides to every story. PetSmart manager Scott Marcus offers that the 15,000sf superstore employs 35, most of whom live in Brooklyn. In addition, he says his staff has passion for animals and “are no different than the people who own and work at smaller shops. We have worked hard to show that we care about animals and want the best for our customers.”

PetSmart has also partnered with the community, running an adoption and rescue center, hosting regular events for charities and welcoming kids from local schools to learn about animals. As BHB reported at the store’s opening, it also offers the full-service Banfield Pet Hospital, grooming, accredited training and prescription foods & medications.

She’s Crafty wrote in April on the BHB Open Thread, “I’m falling in love with the PetSmart on Atlantic Avenue. Their house brand low carb dry food is great for my cat who can’t tolerate grains, and super inexpensive (also there are a slew of coupons in each bag). They have great staff, who (are) knowledgeable and sweet with the children.”

Reader Van added on BHB, “We took our 130-pound Newfoundland to PetSmart for grooming. They were great and about $25 cheaper than the options in the Heights. They have a lot of stock, prices are very fair and it seems like a well-run store.”

And Lori W: “I would love to support local businesses as opposed to a chain, however, the discounts and deals that I get at PetSmart are far better. If local businesses had comparable prices and offered incentives, I would shop there, however, as someone who needs to save money, every little bit helps.”

So what say you, BHB readers? How should the pendulum swing: toward lower prices and wider selection or reverence to local Mom & Pop shops?

(Photo: Chuck Taylor)

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  • GHB

    I hate that corporations have taken over! For that reason, I’ll continue to go to Rocco & Jezebel, Perfect Paws and Sahmi’s Pet Emporium.

  • lori

    I resisted going there at first, but when Heights Vet closed, we decided to take our 2 dogs and 2 cats to the Banfield Pet Hospital there. Excellent service. They have a wellness plan that we enrolled in. I have also received excellent service from the entire staff in the pet store, better than at some of the “mom and pop” stores I used to frequent (except for Sammi on Montague). They also have a grooming station where I have received excellent service. The only thing missing there is a parking lot. (PS You can shop at Trader Joes while your pet is being groomed)

  • AnnOfOrange

    I will continue to use the grooming services and to shop at Perfect Paws and I always try to buy from Pet Emporium/Sammi’s. Sammi’s prices are quite reasonable. Both these shops are more convenient for me that Pet Smart, but even if Pet Smart was around the corner, I would continue to support the locally owned stores. The prices in general aren’t that different and it would be terrible to sacrifice our family businesses just to save a few dollars.

  • JC

    I love that store and very happy it’s nearby. The prices of pet food in the Heights is absurd. In fact, Key Food has great prices on their brands of pet food. So I use Key Food for canned food, PetSmart for the higher-end brands. It’s a great deal and it’s about time!

  • north heights res

    Can’t have it both ways: can’t want a neighborhood that feels intimate, personal, and unique without spending a little more at the smaller businesses. The smaller stores just don’t have the buying power of the chains, so while I’m probably at the low end of income in the neighborhood (I’m a single teacher–quite comfortable but not affluent), I make the decision to pay a little more at smaller stores in the neighborhood where possible.

    And while I know that this is a huge generalization, people who live in this neighborhood complaining about spending a dime or more per can of cat food as a rationalization for using PetSmart feels a little absurd. You can make the choice, if you want to, to support the few smaller stores that we have left. Otherwise, don’t complain about Brooklyn Heights looking and feeling like just another suburban strip mall, which these days it pretty much does, with a few exceptions.

  • She’s Crafty

    For me, I’ve found both great prices and excellent customer service at PetSmart, so to switch back to local stores for food would mean I would spend more money without any gain. So I’m going to continue to shop at PetSmart for our cats’ food.

    However, and I’ve said this before, we are dedicated to Larry and all the staff at Rocco and Jezebel for grooming, so no matter what, we’re continuing to support local businesses that way.

  • tb

    If I had a pet I would stay with pet emporium.

  • shamrock

    If I had a pet I would stay with locally owned stores.

  • Heightsman

    I love this post. I couldn’t agree more with north height res. I can’t stand all these people that complain but have no issue trucking off to Walmart or other store for some cheap products from China. I’m not saying I’m some Saint….complaining is cheap….doing something about it that costs more is not.

  • Josh G

    Clark Pet! The owners are so friendly and my dog loves them.. I’m loyal to that.

  • WillowtownCop

    Somewhat off topic, but when there was a pet food scare a couple of years ago, I found it somewhat interesting that a lot of high end supposedly healthy pet foods were tainted, but the regular supermarket Friskies was not. People get so hysterical about buying stupidly expensive pet food, but there is a 21 year old cat and a 19 year old cat in my family that have eaten basic cat food all their lives. I just buy pet food wherever I’m getting my groceries for the week – usually Fairway.

  • BHMommy

    Although I sometimes buy cheap rawhides at Target, we do all of our shopping at Pet Emporium. I don’t mind if we are are spending extra b/c Sam is the greatest. I would never abandon him for a few dollars in savings, b/c of the wonderful way that he treats my family (my son now wants to go in every day since Sam started giving out lollypops).

    I haven’t been super thrilled with either of the groomers in the Hieghts though. Although I like Andrea from R&J (Tom’s boyfriend at PP was once really rude to me and I haven’t been back since), there are times that I pick up my dog and she still hsa a dreadlock or a single long duclaw. Are the Pet Smart groomers any good?

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    Priced an item at Petsmart-no difference in price from other pet stores. bought on Amazon instead and saved a good deal of money

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    Priced a grooming tool at Petsmart-no difference in price when compared to the private pet supply stores. Bought on Amazon instead and saved a good amount of money.

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    Willowtown Cop: i agree!

    My late cat Shmuel lived for 18 1/2 years eating Friskies canned cat food. My former vet-Dr. Turoff-said that Friskies was absolutely fine to give him as vs. the pricier cat foods. also gave him Eagle Pack brand dry cat food which is a very good product. Have a wonderful mostly Maine Coon cat now, Shani, who is 4+ years old and she is enjoying the same foods and doing well.

  • Livingston

    It’s nice to have options.

  • Rusty

    I’m in love with the Atlantic Avenue Petsmart. It’s so big it’s practically a field trip for my dog, who adores strolling the aisles and smelling the food (and cleaning the floors). The employees are all very friendly and helpful They know both me and my dog, so it’s not that anonymous experience chain stores sometimes give you. And Banfield is great – excellent staff and the Wellness Plan is an excellent value. All in all, thrilled Petsmart has come to the nabe

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    I had to purchase cat litter from a small local pet store and I calculated it to be 50% higher than Petsmart.
    Would anyone want to pay 50% more for their house or 50% more for their car? Why then should we want to pay more for our pet products. Some of us just can’t afford to do it.
    I agree with Livingston that it’s nice to have options!

  • Gerry

    I remember the Beastly Bite on Court Street in Cobble Hill.

  • hicksanthrope

    I love the guys at Pet Emporium. When I call to have something delivered they know my order just by the sound of my voice. How great is that?

  • North heights res

    Beastly Bite is still on Court St in Cobble Hill–just a little south and on the other side of the street.

  • Anon

    I have really appreciated the service at PetSmart. Andy in the fish section really knows his stuff and is very helpful. He loves the animals and will tell you in great detail how to take care of them. For what it’s worth, I tried to go to the local mom-and-pop stores, and no one had the equipment and the expertise I was seeking. The little shops want to make money, and my pets do not bring a good enough profit for them. I have African Dwarf frogs.

  • Gerry

    @ North Heights res – thanks I did not know that Beastly Bite was still there

  • AL

    Resisted going to PS initially until couldn’t get a couple of items I wanted from local mom & pops. Was amazed at the fabulous and friendly service (better than at local shops in my experience). Although the cat food and litter I use is significantly cheaper there, I wouldn’t have switched on price alone – their excellent service and wide selection won me over.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    The fact that the people at Pet Emporium know you when you call is just good business sense on their part. Very smart of them to make you feel like they know you. I am very happy to hear that they appreciate your business and let you know it.

  • still here

    I used to go to the original beastly bite on court way back when it was kind of dumpy, but the owner was really helpful and the prices were fair. When it was sold and modernized the cat food and kitty litter we used cost 25% more with a less attentive staff. Ended up at Pet Delight on 3rd avenue – another non-flashy independent. I like shopping locally – It is not just about price or I would do it all online.

  • j

    Honestly, I’m not sure how the 20 petshops within 10 blocks of each other stayed in business against each other for so long. And how many Thai restaurants do we need on Montague Street?

  • GHB

    One would be nice

  • Andrea

    BH Mommy please let me know if this is the case when you come to us. We certainly want our customers to be happy. As for Petsmart it has not hurt our business. I do understand saving money but one can always ask us to order special food and we will always charge way less. We have great customers and always appreciate everyone.