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Behind the Scenes: Pet Stores USA

From wholesale to drop-ship to distribution to retail supply, Pet Stores USA offers go-to solutions for a variety of players in the pet product industry.
By Mike Ventre

There was a time when Curt Olvey saw the handwriting on the wall, even if the wall was in cyberspace. It occurred during the lead-up to the year 2000.

Curt Olvey

“We’re an old-school wholesale distributor,” said Olvey, president of Pet Stores USA Inc., based in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We’d been selling pet supplies since the ‘80s. When we saw retail stores being bought by larger wholesalers, we decided we wouldn’t be around anymore if we had to depend on independent retailers.

“We changed our core business to Internet fulfillment. To expand, we offered preloaded shopping carts for trainers, groomers, those classes of trade.”

The result has been deeply satisfying to Olvey’s family-run business. He said sales increased 22 percent last year alone.

“That’s how valid the business model is,” he said.

Pet Stores USA is also a supplier of drop-ship services for the pet industry. Manufacturers fill Olvey’s 75,000 square-foot warehouse with almost everything imaginable for dogs, cats, small mammals and birds, and Pet Stores USA ships its partners’ products directly to consumers, with the companies’ own labels on them. Pet Stores USA charges its partners a monthly fee; introductory rates range from $39 to $69.

In regards to Internet fulfillment, Pet Stores USA also will set up a small-business client with a personalized website showing all its products, and then will take care of the purchase transactions.

Pet Stores USA Facility

“We do credit card processing to save them from having to set up a merchant account to do it,” Olvey said. “We basically do everything. They just direct traffic to their site through direct marketing or whatever method they choose. We take the ball from there.”

At the end of each month, Olvey’s company sends checks to its partners for the difference of what the item cost and its selling price.

“That’s how they get their money,” he said.

Olvey said the partners can also customize their shopping carts.


Pet Stores USA

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Owner: Cincinnati Commercial Corp.

Employees: 19

Years in Business: 45

Areas of Distribution/Business: International but primarily the United States

Annual Revenues: Not available, privately held and considered proprietary

Company Mission: Drop-ship distribution/ fulfillment of the best pet product brands direct to the consumer.

Sales Growth (year to year): 11 percent from CY 2007 to 2008 and 22 percent from CY 2008 to 2009

Product/Business Categories: Wholesale Distributor

Product/Business Lines: PetSafe, Innotek, Dogtra, Perimeter Technologies, DT Systems, Flexi, Midwest Metals, Hyper Products, Paws Aboard, Richell and many more.

“They can opt out of a product if they want,” he said. “Like a shock collar, for instance. They may not believe in shock collars, so we’ll leave that out. If it’s a dog person only, we’ll leave all cat products out. It’s their cart. They set the retails.”

Naturally, there were growing pains, even if they were mild. The business evolved, Olvey said, after getting input over the years from consumers, manufacturers and retailers.

“What really took the longest was for customers to give us some direction into what they want this to be,” he said. “We had an idea when we started, but then customers would say, ‘We want this’ or ‘This will make it better,’ and we responded to that.”

Brad Cantwell is president of MidWest Homes for Pets--which produces and markets containment products such as crates, kennels and pens--and said his company has been doing business with Olvey’s for about nine or 10 years now.

“There are a ton of benefits,” he said of working with Pet Stores USA. “One of the biggest is to be able to provide start-up Internet companies for drop-ship from a single source. Curt’s company is very fair about the prices they charge. Another advantage is Curt Olvey. He’s a tremendous guy,” he added.

Olvey got into the pet business in 1989, after serving in the Marine Corps. He started as a purchasing agent and worked his way up through the organization.

“It’s just a job I applied for. Some of the best jobs out there are in the paper,” he said with a chuckle.

Now Olvey is president, his wife is the company’s receptionist and his two oldest sons are in sales.

“We play flag football together, softball together,” he said. “At the end of the day we say to each other, ‘What are you doing later?’ I think it really works, and that might be the exception.”

The speediness of Pet Stores USA in getting someone sitting at his or her own family’s kitchen table, with a laptop and a dream, into the pet supply business is another factor that sets Olvey’s company apart.

“You can call them and they’ll set you up with a shopping cart in a few weeks,” Cantwell said.

Pet Stores USA warehouse

Over the years, Pet Stores USA has grown in part because of good will generated through business associations with vendors such as Paws Aboard, a Tampa-based company that sells aquatic products for dogs, such as life jackets, boat ladders and ramps.

“They’re a reputable company to work with,” said Amber McCrocklin, CEO of Paws Aboard. “They’re very honest. I know other people who have used them and are very happy with them.”

Cantwell said he expects Pet Stores USA to become an even larger Internet presence in the coming years.

“I think the pet industry is just getting started in the Internet business,” he said. “The pet industry in general is kind of behind the times in terms of technology. So I think we’ll see considerable growth.

Said Olvey: “We expect to see it to continue to grow. We expect to strengthen relationships with manufacturers to service accounts that they wouldn’t be able to service directly.” <HOME> 

Posted: February 19, 2010

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Behind the Scenes: Pet Stores USA

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Reader Comments
Great article. Very interesting statistics and business strategies. Very good read.
Gretchen, Orem, UT
Posted: 4/25/2012 11:45:15 AM
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