For Popular Pet Store, Compassion Is a Key Ingredient
By Sara Poirier Correa
Sentinel Business Reporter
With a focus on overall pet health and wellness, Pet Pantry Warehouse continues to thrive in town, decades after opening its doors. Now with five area locations and a sixth on the way, the business is looking to reinforce community ties and do what’s best for animals.
“I think pets are part of the family,” said Joshua Roth, vice president of the company that has a flagship location at 290 Railroad Avenue. “I think people have a comfort level with animals. People care deeply about caring for their animals as they do caring for the rest of their family.
“It really becomes that we want to be there to help people take care of their family as well as they can.”
Original Pet Pantry owners Mort Davis and Jac Cohen were World War II Air Force servicemen who formed a friendship and an alliance over a puppy that Davis adopted while stationed in wartime England. After bringing the dog stateside, the men’s friendship endured and the business was born in 1945.
In 1995, longtime customer Barry Jacobson and his sons Adam and Ari bought the business. At that time, the Greenwich location was modernized and the Pet Pantry of today began.
“We transformed it from an old formatted store that was mostly doing wholesale distribution, and worked with some folks to open the store up and take advantage of the size [of the space],” Adam Jacobson, executive vice president of Pet Pantry, told the Greenwich Sentinel. The Railroad Avenue store, where Pet Pantry has been since the early 1970s, is about 12,000 square feet, he said.
Today, the business’ five locations span Fairfield and Westchester counties—Greenwich, New Canaan, Wilton, Rye and Larchmont. A new store being constructed at 1191 East Putnam Avenue in Riverside—former home of Baang Café & Bar—is slated to open soon.
“We were kind of raised on the idea that being a really well educated staff would be critical to our success,” said Roth, who has been friends with Jacobson since childhood. “Early on it became really important to us to focus on nutrition and the overall health and well-being of pets.”
“Trying to be at the apex of nutrition is our first focus,” he added, “and when you get outside of pet food, we just try to focus on having the highest quality products in each category.”
In addition to other pet care items, the store offers a variety of food for pets, including brands with no bi-products and no antibiotics, as well as fresh meats. They include Blue Buffalo, California Natural, Acana and Open Farm, to name a few. Frozen foods and “alternative diet” foods are also available.
Jacobson said the pet care industry is a unique one, in the store’s owners basically follow the life cycle of their customers and find satisfaction in the one-on-one interaction.
“You’re not just selling a product, you’re selling animal compassion,” he said. “You’re a part of something far greater than the product on the shelf.”
He added that watching generations of people come to the store, “there’s a legacy to that.”
“The town of Greenwich is really where the business started, and we’re really grateful to the community,” Jacobson said.
Being a part of the community is a cornerstone of the Pet Pantry brand, Roth and Jacobson said. As such, it has close ties with organizations like Adopt-A-Dog, an area shelter that coordinates Greenwich’s annual Puttin’ On The Dog adoption event at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park.
In addition, Pet Pantry organizes the town’s annual Howl and Prowl costume party in the park, which also raises money for Adopt-A-Dog. The Halloween-time favorite serves as a costume contest for dogs. Through all of its efforts, Jacobson said, the company has helped raise more than $100,000 for Adopt-A-Dog in the last five years.
Taking a different turn, Pet Pantry has also begun an initiative, he said, to supply food, free of charge, to police dogs in the towns in which it has stores.
“We realize the expense that the police officers, individually as well as the local police departments, have to take on when taking on this type of additional assets to the police force,” Jacobson said, adding that providing the food is an act of good citizenship.
Pet Pantry Warehouse also partners with local dog trainers to provide services, and also with The Good Dog Foundation, which does in-store evaluations of dogs that their owners think might make good therapy pets. The next evaluation at the Greenwich store will be May 15.
On May 7, Pet Pantry will coordinate with the nonprofit Cat Assistance for an adoption event at the Greenwich store from 12-3 p.m.
Not just a store for cats and dogs, Pet Pantry Warehouse also has sections devoted to fish and small animals.
The new Riverside location, Jacobson said, will introduce some new services for the Pet Pantry brand, including a self-serve pet washing area.
For more about Pet Pantry, visit the store at 290 Railroad Avenue, call 203-869-6444, or go to the website at ppwpet.com.