By Macaela J. Bennett
It took just a second while his owner was distracted for Romeo, a golden retriever who lives with his family in Greenwich, to sniff and snatch a treat from Pet Pantry’s wide array of bones Friday afternoon.
Construction of Pet Pantry Warehouse’s second Greenwich location has finished just in time for the dog days of summer with its opening two weeks ago. But staff is still perfecting their product placement so it’s always at least nose-distance from impatient shoppers.
The new Riverside shop, situated just off exit 5, encompasses roughly 3,500 square feet of selling space. The size means it offers less inventory than the independent pet shop’s downtown Greenwich location on Railroad Avenue, but the store serves as an example of how Pet Pantry plans to style its shops moving forward, co-owner Adam Jacobson said.
“Our other (Greenwich store) is 15,000 square feet,” Jacobson. “This is a more intimate, neighborhood concept.”
Unlike Pet Pantry’s downtown shop, its Riverside one will not sell live animals, though it will provide support for them, and it won’t have equine or livestock feed. Riverside customers can order those items from other Pet Pantry stores to be picked up in Riverside, Jacobson said.
Riverside is Pet Pantry’s sixth location, with others in New Canaan, Wilton, Larchmont, N.Y., and Rye, N.Y. A seventh location is slated to open in Eastchester, N.Y., later this year, Jacobson said. “We aim to pocket ourselves in strong, local communities,” he said of the expansion.
For the most part, the Riverside shop that had its grand opening delayed by six months is complete, Jacobson said. That’s with the exception of an upcoming self-serve pet wash that will cost customers $10 for a 15-minute shower for which Pet Pantry will provide shampoo and towels, he added. With the Riverside shop’s proximity to Tod’s Point where “dogs often go mucking around,” he anticipates it will become a popular service that is also set to be installed in the New Canaan shop.
For the family-owned company that’s entrenched itself in the Greenwich community, Jacobson said he also hopes to use the self-serve pet wash as a “fundraising vehicle.”
“We’re fully invested in this community,” Jacobson said. “We’re one of the longest-standing independent retailers in town. We’ve been here for so many life cycles, and we’re connected to the community through emotional bonds.”
To maintain its market hold against online retailers, Pet Pantry will continue to “evolve its business model” to focus on working with smaller manufacturers and “products with a point of view,” Jacobson said. Between the nutritionally focused products it sells and the training of Pet Pantry’s staff, the co-owner believes his retail business can withstand challenges from e-commerce.
The two-story building Pet Pantry built and owns also includes several apartments on its second floor. The location is the former site of an Asian-fusion restaurant called Baang Cafe & Bar, which closed in 2014. Jacobson began eyeing the site in 2015, and though it’s a heavily trafficked area with its proximity to the interstate, he said he’s happy with how it will help serve customers on that side of town. “It helps us further entrench ourselves in the community,” he said.