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Your local pet store!

(Well, my local pet store!)

I’m not one of those people who will *only* buy from local and independent retailers.  Supporting my local business isn’t my top priority.  I like it when I can do it, sure, but that’s just not the first the thing that comes to mind when I go shopping.  It’s price.  (I’ll say it again: STILL IN GRAD SCHOOL!)  And frankly, often the big chain retailers can buy items in such mass that they can afford better discounts than smaller stores.

The best example comes from a colleague who gave me a hard time for buying a bike from REI (which acts as a co-op, BTW).  She sung the praises of the local bike shop.  One weekend, I agreed to go shopping with her.  The last place, at my urging, was Sports Chalet, which had a Diamondback bike she’d bought previously… only she’d paid 25% more for it.

Now, when the local store carries special product lines that you can’t get at the bigger chains, exceptional return policies, and outstanding service — sure, it’s worth more!  But is the same exact bike really worth 25% more (so we’re talking more than $100 here) at your local bike shop that doesn’t give any additional guarantees?  To some people, it sure does.  Not to me, and I think in this economy, that’s most people as well.

But imagine my delight when I can both save like the competitive shopper I am and STILL support my local businesses!  I’ve been lucky to find a couple places like that since I moved; today, I’d like to share with you my local pet store, Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies.

How did I find these people? Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies entered my life in a rather amusing way.  When I lived on the west side of L.A., in an apartment where I wasn’t allowed to have pets, I used to open my Sunday paper every week and be bombarded with flyers from the store.  My husband and I used to joke about how badly this store wanted us to buy from them, but alas! no pet.  When we bought our house in the earlier part of this year, we welcomed our poochie Evee into our family.  We were so ready to go to Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies… only we no longer got ads from them in the Sunday paper.  No worries, though — I knew they had a store nearby, so I signed us up for the monthly newsletter, and ever since we’ve been pretty loyal customers.

Who are they? The store boasts a motto: “To contribute to our customer’s happiness by improving the health and quality of their pet’s life.”  I feel they have the potential of having the “In’N’Out” success of pet stores.  The store has a long history, starting as a feed and paint store in the 1930s.  After switching hands in the 1950s, the family-owned business starting expanding.  Currently, they own 13 different stores across Southern California.  Their last expansion was, in fact, this weekend in Burbank (which is the inspiration for this post).  The stores mostly carry pet food and supplies, but they also offer low-cost vaccination clinics and, at some locations, grooming and cat boarding.

What do they carry in their stores? Everything at the store is higher-end products for your pets.  You’re not going to see the supermarket brands here.  They have a fantastic selection of holistic food as well, including brands like Wellness, Merricck/ Before Grain, Innova/Evo, Natural Balance, Canidae/Felidae, and Evee’s personal favorite, Lotus.  (I urge many people to consider buying higher quality holistic food rather than the cheaper-end food that still claims to be premium.  When you take the time to look at the difference in the quality of the ingredients, it’s rather shocking.)  I was also very impressed with the quality of their supplements.  I’ve been feeding our dog glucosamine supplements and discovered at Centinela the brand InClover.  Actually, one of the managers pointed the product line out to me.  If your dog has joint issues, you’ll be happy to find out that InClover supplements include an herbal anti-inflammatory, which works great in conjunction with glucosamine/chondroiton.  Centinela has also expanded their raw food selection — bigger than any chain store I’ve ever seen.  During store events, vendor representatives come out, so you also have a chance to really talk to them about their products.

How expensive are they? First thing first — at first glance, the prices may not seem so awesome.  You need the coupons from their flyers or newsletter or their event promotions to rock your socks.  Sometimes they have the coupons at the registers, but usually you need to bring one in.  But the coupons are pretty decent, so it’s worth it.  Deals like “Buy two toys, get one free” or “20-25% off select items” are common.  There’s always a free-without-purchase toy you can get every month, as well. These free toys are nothing to sneeze at.  From being part of their Twitter feed, I got a Kong Air Tennis Toy for Evee, which has been perfect to help her learn “fetch.” Do they always beat the big chains like Petsmart or Petco?  No, not always, but I’ll put a ballpark figure of 80% of the time they do.  And oh, boy — when they have a sale, it can make your jaw drop sometimes!  This last weekend, I stood in line for over 30 minutes so I could get 35lb bags of Canidae All Life Stages Dog Food for $24.99!  We’re talking almost half off, here.  (Luckily, they had free hot dogs and chips for us!)

Are they nice? Centinela’s customer service has been exceptional.  They really love animals at the store, and I have yet to meet THAT employee… you know, the one who seems to hate their job and is counting the minutes until their shift is over.  The managers at the stores are a delight to talk to; they’re not vets, but they are veteran pet owners, and I’ve come to value their opinions when it comes to food, training, or behavior.  It helps that all the employees seem to amuse Evee pretty well (and sneak her a ton of treats).

I visit Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies every 1-2 months, and I spend usually anywhere between $15-50, depending on what I’m getting.  I never buy full price, and I tend to come out smiling.  It feels good to save money, and it feels even better to be supporting a local company.  I hope to watch the store grow and thrive as I continue to care for my dog (and one day, dogs!).

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  1. December 26, 2009 at 11:13 am

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