ADDRESS: 949 NW Kings Blvd, Corvallis, OR 97330
WEB SITE: www.animalcrackerspetsupply.com
OWNER: Kate Lindburg
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 26
WHAT THEY SELL: Retail pet food and pet supplies
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: The owner and staff make you feel welcome from the moment you enter the store. They are committed to making life better for pets and the people who love them, and their high quality pet food and products are second to none.
If you own a pet, chances are you’ve discovered Animal Crackers Pet Supply – Corvallis’s “go to” center for high quality pet food and pet supplies. Since 1994, this local treasure has provided an excellent resource for pet lovers in our community. Whether you have a dog, cat, bird, or small animal, you’ll find a wide selection of exceptional products for your pet. And if you’re looking for a new companion, Animal Crackers has cats available for adoption at the store through the Heartland Humane Society’s satellite adoption center.
Kate, why did you start your business? We had an Airedale Terrier with terrible allergies, and we couldn’t find a good clean food for her to eat. We tried mail order, but that got old fast. At the same time, we were in the process of buying a business, but that fell through. So we started thinking, “What does this town need? Good quality pet supplies!” We did the market research, and the market was definitely there. So we looked around and saw that Carol Lee Woodstock was in the process of building new retail space. We asked, and she said, “Yes!” We’ve been here ever since.
What are your specialties? We focus on pet nutrition. I have a background in biology, so I’ve researched how pet food is made and what pets need nutritionally to be healthy. We also like to have a really good selection of well-made pet toys. Play is an important part of a pet’s daily life.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? Money is always a challenge. When we first opened, we were severely under-capitalized because we couldn’t get a bank loan. We borrowed from family and maxed out our credit cards. That happens often to small business owners. One way we kept going was by keeping track of our cash flow. I actually like doing the books! It was a daily process of tracking our finances. Always paying bills on time is really important since you build up your credit rating that way. Eventually, we got a loan from Citizens Bank.
What is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis – and what does the future look like for local independents? I don’t think most people realize how much charitable support is provided by locally owned independents. There are a lot of stories about how locally owned independents have provided help to others. The future looks good as long as young people realize the benefits of having an assortment of strong, local independents in town. Young people have been raised with all the chain stores, so that’s what they’re used to.
What is your relationship to the community? Our biggest contribution is to Heartland Humane Society. We’ve had a satellite adoption center in the store ever since we opened. Heartland will select a few cats and kittens for us, and they stay here at Animal Crackers until they’re adopted. While they’re here, we provide all their food and veterinary care. When they’re adopted, 100% of the adoption fee goes to Heartland. The relationship with Heartland is really important to us. Also, for people who have pets and are on Meals-on-Wheels, Animal Crackers provides free pet food, which we deliver to them.
I was also very active with CIBA (Community Independent Business Alliace) and served as president for several years. We’re also a partner in the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, and out-of-district members of the Downtown Corvallis Association.
How many people do you employ? We typically have 10 full-time employees, but we had just one employee when we first opened. We’ve been open 7 days a week ever since we opened. We try to provide a living wage and health insurance to our employees. We spend a lot of time talking to employees about how they do their job. We do employee reviews every six months because we want to help our employees grow.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? It’s very important to me that we lower our footprint as much as possible. We don’t own the building, so there’s a limit to what we can do. But we have retrofitted all the lighting, and it was well worth it since it cut way down on our energy bills. We bought an electric truck several years ago for doing our deliveries. We just plug it in at the back of the building. We deal with a lot of shrink wrap because all our deliveries come on pallets. So we fill up the truck with the shrink wrap, along with Styrofoam, cardboard, and all of our office paper, and we take it to the Co-op Recycling Center or the Republic Services Recycling Depot. We also recycle fluorescent light bulbs and batteries. We recycled all of our old electronics through OSU Campus Recycling. We often have leftover pet medications so we take those to the pharmaceutical take-back days. We sell bulk cat litter and bulk dog biscuits to cut down on packaging. The newest step we’re taking is a source audit so we can see where our products are coming from. I want to develop buying guidelines so we can make the best choices. Businesses don’t always realize the impact they can have if they ask their distributors for specific types of products.
(Original interview and article by Annette Mills, November 25, 2012; revised April 10, 2020)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).