Friday, January 3, 2014

Why I shop local for pet supplies

Beorn the cat and his food bowls
It's no secret that I have many, many pet mouths to feed. Three indoor cats (two with special dietary needs), two outdoor cats and two dogs (one with special dietary needs) means that I spend hundreds of dollars each and every year on really simple things like food, cat litter and supplements. All of these little bodies can have a big impact on my monthly budget.

Not surprisingly, I am sometimes tempted by flyers that come from companies like With just a few clicks of the mouse, I could order all kinds of food and other goodies for my kids, and I might not even be required to pay for shipping. I could save both time and money. Quite a deal, right?

However, I rarely take the bait. Why? Because I like to support local businesses.

Lucy the blind cat on her couch

A recent study suggests that something like 90 percent of businesses in the pet sector are privately owned, and most of these businesses have fewer than 5 employees. These are the sorts of places that hang in the balance when the economy takes a slide or a local employer shifts manufacturing to another country. They just don't have the capital to sustain this kind of dip in revenue, and they go under.

I know that my few dollars spent each month can't keep a company afloat. But I like to do my part. That's why I try to buy the bulk of my food and litter at my locally owned company. All of my canned food, all of the dry food, all of the cat litter and most of my grooming supplies come from the same store, and I get service from the same friendly staff each time I walk through the door.

To be fair, I sometimes buy from nationwide suppliers. BarkBox is a big part of the life of my dogs (see my review of the current box here), for example, and I've also been known to get medicated shampoos and other over-the-counter medications from online pharmacies. I do step away from the comfort of my community from time to time in order to take care of my pets. But when I can, I try to stay local. I think you should, too.

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