SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Price Chopper Supermarkets here has introduced its first Pet Mart, a pet store within a supermarket. The Pet Mart debut took place April 9, when the chain opened its 82,000-square-foot Westgate store. However, the official "leash-cutting" ceremony took place April 15.
Every dog -- or at least 20 of them -- had its day. There also was one renegade cat on hand for the opening festivities, which included a parade, according to Barbara Page, public relations manager.
"At the judging," she said, "the pets had free photos taken with the Easter bunny; and we had treats for them. It was a cute activity that created some excitement for the new Pet Mart."
The Westgate Pet Mart is an 8,000-square-foot section, with short gondolas. Found in the middle of the grocery aisles, it offers an expanded inventory of leashes, dog dishes and other supplies.
"This was a joint effort between our grocery department and our general merchandise department. It's in the center of the store in an area you can walk around," explained Page. "So, it's like a store-within-a-store, but it's not divided by walls."
"We've got videos that pertain to pets, such as animal stories or training tapes. We also have books that customers can purchase. And we've got toys on a larger scale," said Page.
Indeed, Price Chopper has everything on a larger scale; not just for cats and dogs, but supplies for birds and hamsters and
other pets as well. The new Pet Mart also features bulk biscuits and cat food in see-through, Plexiglas containers.
"This is a first for Price Chopper as far as variety and volume. We're planning to put Pet Marts into our up and coming, larger, new stores. Westgate was the first one; so it's our pilot," said Page, who noted the concept sprang from increased competition for the pet-owner dollar. "Pet stores are popping up all over, and our volume and variety were really limited to the food products and a small section for just leashes, shampoos and things like that."
Page said market research showed customers are looking for more pet supplies, so the store-within-a-store concept not only will help Price Chopper compete with the onslaught of pet specialty stores, but also enhance its plans to create a true one-stop shopping operation.
"At 82,000 square feet, this is the largest store in our Capitol region here," she said. "And, on that scale, we have other departments, like a dry cleaner and a bank. And we found that a lot of people are pet owners. So this was a great addition to offer our customers."