CIINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pet Spot owners Paul Lazor and Dave Pang, in front of their new Ward Warehouse store yesterday, say they are already outgrowing the space. The business partners plan to open a 5,600-square-foot shop in Kaimuki at the end of July. CLICK FOR LARGE
Pet Spot ready to be top dog
The pet store's owners continue an aggressive expansion plan with their largest store yet
How much is that puppy in the window?
Depending on whether it's a mini Dachshund or a Bichon Friese, it's somewhere in the $999 to $1,700 range.
The cute puppies are what lure customers into the new Pet Spot shop at Ward Warehouse, but it's the merchandise inside that co-owners Paul Lazor and Dave Pang count as the important bulk of sales.
Pang and Lazor recently formed a new partnership to expand the business, and are on an aggressive path to expansion.
Lazor and his wife, Eldiana, opened the first Pet Spot in Pearl City two years ago. With Pang and his wife, Jennifer, on board as business partners, they opened a second store at Ward Warehouse last month.
CIINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Business partners Dave Pang and Paul Lazor plan to continue their aggressive expansion plan with the opening of their largest Pet Spot store yet in Kaimuki in late July. They opened their second store at Ward Warehouse last month, where Pang held a miniature Dachshund yesterday for three-and-a half-year-old Elise Simpson, left, and her sister Olivia, 2. CLICK FOR LARGE
Measuring 2,600 square feet, the Ward store is the second-largest of three that are planned. The Pet Stop at Pearl Highlands, which is two years old, is about 1,800 square feet.
But Lazor and Pang say they are already growing out of space at the Ward Warehouse store.
Another Pet Stop, currently under construction in Kaimuki near Koko Head Avenue, should measure about 5,600 square feet when completed for a target opening date at the end of July.
"Hawaii is ready for another wave of expansion," said Pang, who also owns four Pets World stores in Taiwan. "The level of service here wasn't meeting people's expectations in variety, pricing, customer service and selection. We just thought there was opportunity here, which meant having a pretty good expansion plan."
The Pearl Highlands Center store performed well from the start, according to Lazor, when it opened in November 2005.
"I never really had a problem with that store," said Lazor. "The only problem was that it was too small."
Puppies are selling quickly at Ward Warehouse, for $600 to $1,700 each, with close to 80 selling within a month. Pang and Lazor say they all come from local breeders, as well as a medical guarantee.
"If there is anything medically wrong with the dog, we will give you every penny back," said Pang. "The primary reason we can do that is because we know the breeders personally."
Pet Spot also offers birds, including parakeets, lovebirds and cockatiels, as well rabbits, turtles and guinea pigs, but no cats.
"Hawaii has a huge cat population," said Lazor. "We have a million cats. If you want a cat, adopt from the Humane Society."
Fish will only be available at the Pearl City and Kaimuki shops.
Hawaii is not yet home to the nation's largest pet store chains, PetSmart
, although a PetCo is one of the expected anchors for Pearl City Gateway, a new 150,000-square-foot shopping center under development near Wal-Mart.
But there are dozens of small neighborhood mom-and-pop shops, which range from the Modern Pet Center on Makaloa Street to specialty boutiques like Bark Avenue in Hawaii Kai and Crazy Canine in Aiea.
Ward Avenue is already home to two small pet shops, Naturally Pets and Pets Plus.
Pets Discount, which opened its first store in 1989 and also does business as Pet's Central, has five locations on Oahu, and one in California.
Vivian Ma, a CIBC World Markets analyst who tracks PetSmart, said demographic trends for the industry are still favorable, driven mostly by baby boomers looking to spend money on pets that have replaced their grown children.
She said there is room for growth in pet specialty stores, meaning stores that only sell pet-related items, but that it can slow down once the market reaches a saturation point.
"I think the industry as a whole has changed," said Pang. "More people look at pets as part of the family rather than a possession, and that mentality changes what you're willing to do for your animal."
Pang researched the Hawaii market and found that 78 percent of households here have some kind of pet, while 46% have multiple pets. Dogs are the No. 1 pet of choice.
Pet Spot will set itself apart by offering animal behavioral classes, and is also considering a partnership with a no-kill shelter to help it adopt animals. Most of all, however, they say the prices will make the difference.
"We want our customers to compare us to other stores," said Pang. "We feel we'll be cheaper and have a better variety for the exact same thing, whether it be for a puppy, a rabbit or bag of dog food."
As for PetCo, Pang said: "If they're coming, they're coming. We just have to focus on making our stores the best we can and compete that way... May the best man win."