Influential THE WALL STREET JOURNAL warns retail: Be prepared for the long-term reduction in foot traffic. That's no newsflash, of course. With the exception of grocery stores, most of us haven't been running into crowds in brick-and-mortar retail. Here is the analysis in WSJ (sub. req.)
One exception to that trend is PetSmart, in a shopping center in North Haven, Connecticut. Four-footers are welcome. Actually, the smells and the excitement of the presence of other dogs make the environment the analogue of a Disney theme park. Both for the four-footers and their pet parents. The setting is so heady that if I have pressing assignment deadlines and am out of Lee K.'s favorite Grilled Chicken in Sauce, I swing by there without the dog. It takes forever for him to sniff his way through the entire store and size up the other canine shoppers.
There is always a crowd at check-out, where the four- and two-footers line up. But that's one line which is fun. We talk about our pet children. We swap product information. We compliment the great grooming job PetSmart did for the poodle. The clerks seem to authentically love animals. And the store manager Walter loves keeping the shopping experience a treat, not a must-do.
There is plenty other retailers can learn from PetSmart. I advise Staples, BestBuy, and even Dollar Tree (which are in the same location) observe the PetSmart model. They might even begin welcoming four-footers, which would be a shrewd move.