Although many San Franciscans are fond of their furry friends, their love of animals does not compare to their general disdain of chain stores, even those aimed at providing products and care for their pets.
With this in mind, the Bay Area pet food chain store Pet Food Express is trying to open another store in San Francisco, this time in a single-story building on California Street between Presidio Avenue and Lyon Street that was previously home to a Hollywood Video outlet.
Pet Food Express, which has 34 locations throughout the Bay Area (including one on Market St at Duboce and one at Stonestown Galleria), was founded locally in 1986 and features vaccination clinics, self-service pet washes and mobile pet adoption services in most of their stores, in addition to the cat nip and doggie chew toys they already sell.
So why the controversy over a chain that prides itself on being “dedicated to pet rescue and adoptions,” as the moniker on their website advertises?
Disdain of Pet Food Express can be pinpointed back to November 2009, when the chain tried to open what would have been its third San Francisco location in a Marina-district storefront previously occupied by a Blockbuster store. Local neighbors and businesses came out in droves to oppose this proposal, as they argued the opening of a Pet Food Express would force the closure of up to seven smaller, independently owned pet stores in the neighborhood.
“I can stay in business today; however, I can not stay in business competing [with Pet Food Express],” Catnip and Bones pet store owner Pam Hable told the San Francisco Examiner in August 2009.
Well known political consultant Alex Tourk, who was employed by Pet Food Express founder Michael Levy during his effort to open the location, was quoted then as saying that residents should support the business since it started in the Bay Area.
“They say it will be bad for small business, [but] I just don’t see the facts,” Tourk said.
In the end, however, the chain’s adversaries were successful, as on November 5th, 2009, the Planning Commission denied Pet Food Express’ application for a Conditional Use Permit.
Whether or not Pet Food Express will face the same problem in Laurel Heights as it did in the Marina District remains to be seen; however, with San Francisco’s reputation for being opposed to big box stores, it is likely that they can expect some rrrrrruff opposition yet again.