Today Jen pointed out that the Pontiac Pet Shop, which is just down the street from us, has closed up. She’d noticed it in the past week. My first reaction was surprise; I’d expected the store to succeed. It’s too bad.
I covered the store’s opening in September 2003; here’s part of what I wrote:
[The owners’] market research suggested that there was demand for a pet store in the area. According to data provided by Shawville Revitalisation, more than $1 million is spent on pet expenses [in the area] — including food, supplies, services and the animals themselves — every year.
On the other hand, we ourselves didn’t actually shop there very often. And we have more animals than the average, non-farming resident. Or rather we didn’t buy there very often; we stopped in a lot, but they frequently didn’t have what we were looking for. They didn’t carry reptile supplies, they didn’t have the cat things we wanted, and their selection of cat food was poorer than the supermarket’s next door. So we ended up going elsewhere, even though we wanted to give them our business.
Pet stores make money on supplies, not animals. But the store’s limited selection of animals may have had an effect on their other business lines. From my article:
The animals offered for sale reflect [one of the owner’s] preferences: small, purebred dogs and cats; ferrets and small rodents; goldfish; and finches and budgies. There are no larger birds such as parrots, more exotic fish, reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates — or, for that matter, run of the mill dogs or cats — at this time.
My bet is that $300 dogs would be a tough sell out here. Pet stores are a marginal business in the first place. I don’t know, but maybe it was too limited and upscale in its selection to succeed. Maybe they didn’t need a storefront on Main Street with purebreds; they needed a big barn in the outskirts with all sorts of stuff — everything from aquaria to horse tack.
Who knows. I don’t know why the store closed; I’m just musing about what it’s like to do business in this town. I wonder whether specialty stores can survive out here. We have a lot of small department/general/discount stores that sell a surprising amount of stuff, with considerable overlap. I’m not sure if one thing alone is enough to keep a business going — even the local newspaper sells cleaning supplies.
I’m beginning to think I’m jinxing local businesses. Of the three business openings I covered in my brief time as a reporter, only one is still open: the Curves franchise. Don’t tell the Chamber of Commerce.