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Bentley’s Pet Stuff, TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories Merge

Two of Pet Product News’ Retailers of the Year have big plans this year to expand their reach in the southeast region.


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TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories, based in Savannah, Ga., and Bentley’s Pet Stuff, based in Chicago, are merging, according to both sources.

TailsSpin and Bentley’s, co-owned by Jusak Yang Bernhard and Jeffrey Allen Manley, and Lisa and Giovanni Senafe, respectively, have plans to expand in the southeast region, opening more TailsSpin locations in Georgia and in South Carolina and Florida, as well.

The merger is expected to be complete at the end of this month.

TailsSpin first opened in October 2007, quickly outgrowing its original storefront. In early 2009, Bernhard and Manley moved to the store’s current location in Midtown Savannah. TailsSpin also has stores in Pooler and Whitemarsh Island, Ga.

TailsSpin is the recipient of several community and pet industry awards, including Pet Product News’ Retailer of the Year 2015-2016.

Bentley’s Pet Stuff, which has grown to more than 32 stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado within the past year, first opened in 2008 in the Chicago area with a mission to feed animal lovers’ pets genuine high-quality ingredients, according to the Senafes.

In August, Bentley’s was named Pet Product News’ Retailer of the Year 2016-2017. Bentley’s also instituted its own minimum wage of $12.25 per hour earlier this year, which is more than 65 percent higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, according to the company.

“A mutual friend of ours made an introduction at the 2016 SuperZoo national trade show for pet retailers,” Giovanni said. “Georgia wasn’t on our radar, but we hit it off and found so much in common personally and professionally.”

That mutual friend turned out to be Dave Ratner, owner of Dave’s Soda & Pet City, a seven-store chain based in Agawam, Mass. Ratner, who has been in the industry for 40 years and also owns a pet food line for dogs and cats, Dave’s Pet Food, sits on the board of directors for the National Retail Federation and Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.

“These are three of my favorite folks in the industry,” said Ratner. “Jusak and Jeff and I were talking about what our futures would hold and I thought, wow, their stores are a perfect match for Giovanni’s stores. Same culture, merchandise standards and most importantly … ethics. So I played matchmaker. Not to sound goofy, but what a good feeling to bring two great businesses together.”

“Dave mentioned he had some great people that would make great partners for us to build out the south,” Giovanni said. “Jusak and I literally had been joking with each other earlier in the day at SuperZoo without knowing that Dave had already reached out to each of us earlier.

“We realized quickly they were the right guys,” he continued. “For us, these decisions are more about culture than money. Jusak and Jeff have built their company through adversity, discrimination and challenges few of us have faced. The fact that not only did they make it but that they did it with integrity and passion makes them ideal customers for us.”

Bernhard and Manley will help the Senafes build the Bentley’s brand in the Georgia, South Carolina and Florida market under the TailsSpin brand, Giovanni said, adding that the plan is to open four to six stores in that region by year’s end.

“This will be fantastic,” Bernhard said. “We have so much in common in our life experiences and business philosophies, and we get to keep and develop the momentum of TailsSpin while joining forces with Bentley’s. It’s a perfect fit.

“This partnership will allow us to help more pet owners discover the benefits of better nutrition while allowing more opportunities for advancement for our dedicated, diverse staff,” Bernhard added.

“We’re excited to put our infrastructure, marketing and buying power behind their incredible passion and let them focus on the culture and customer and employee experience,” Giovanni said.

“It allows TailsSpin to expand on its strong reputation of community support, extending Savannah’s southern hospitality to other corners of the country,” Manley said.

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