Written by Dave Gil de Rubio, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 14 December 2012 00:00
According to the 2011-12 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, there are 164.6 dogs and cats that are owned as pets in the United States. So is it any wonder that Abe Kanfer and Aharaon Blachorsky would decide to open up their second Pet Menu location in New Hyde Park roughly two months ago? For the duo, this is an industry that they’ve enjoyed great success with ever since Kanfer approached his partner about opening a store back in 1989.
“I was leaving another line of business because of the real estate crash in 1989 and [Aaron’s] brother and I were college friends,” Kanfer recalled. “I knew his family was involved in that industry—family-owned manufacturing of dog and cat food. His brother was involved in rawhides and other treats. I said he knew this industry and I love pets so what can you do? I wanted to open up a store and I needed a partner. I asked him to think about it and he said he’d see what he could do. In two days, he said his brother wanted to do it and we’ve been doing it since 1989 and it’s worked out great.”
The first Pet Menu location was originally opened across the street from the 111th Precinct on Northern Boulevard in Bayside, a stone’s throw from Bell Boulevard. Before long, the store grew to the point where a move was necessitated and in short order, the new location was further west on Northern Boulevard in the small neighborhood of Auburndale. The store remains the flagship and was a model for the newest addition to the Pet Menu empire that would eventually wind up with a New Hyde Park address.
“We actually looked at the space across the street where the Blockbuster used to be and the owner happened to own this and said this was a better way to go,” Kanfer explained. “And he was right. It’s got a basement and it’s near other shopping. We see that it’s got a lot of traffic and we like the demographic. In general, this is just right for us; it’s similar to Auburndale in a lot of ways. [The biggest difference is that] there, we have no parking. We have parking [at this location], so we definitely have an advantage here.”
With more and more people treating their pets like family, the pet industry has become a billion dollar industry. Along with food, accessories have become big business from clothes and carriers to toys and treats. One step into either Pet Menu location reveals a wealth of variety. That said, over-indulgent owners looking to find the kinds of upscale fare you might see someone using on their dog on the Upper West Side or Rodeo Drive are advised to look elsewhere.
“We’re not going to sell a $300 outfit or a $200 soft carrier that they can carry around like an accessory. That’s not our market,” Kanfer admitted. “Maybe some Manhattan stores [serve that customer base]. We’re dealing with people that are looking to do the best for their pets nutritionally and physically, by giving them active toys to play with. I don’t have a carrier that’s Gucci or anything. I have a functional carrier that can go on the plane or get you to the vet. It will last and it’s durable and is what our market is looking for and that is who we cater to.”
Advances in pet nutrition are something both Pet Menu owners are well-versed in and they enjoy nothing more than helping pet owners solve maladies that may not necessarily require medication or some type of veterinary procedure. Much like their human counterparts, most chronic pet maladies, be they digestive or allergenic, can be traced to something as simple as altering a diet.
“We always try to stay ahead of the market. Besides listening to what customers want, we would have our ear to the ground to figure out what the new thing is regarding nutrition, treats and toys. We always wanted to be the first ones to be grain-free or the first ones to have a raw diet,” Kanfer stated. “What we love is when a customer comes back and says their friend had a problem with their dog, they came here [and] we recommended something. Their friend referred the person who walked in to us because their dog has this other problem and thought maybe we could help. If we can solve it without them having to go to a vet because it’s not beyond the level of a simple remedy or food change, it’s great. It saves them the money and preserves the longevity of the dog.”