The Pet Shop Wars

The Pet Shop Wars

Our fun chronicles between PetCo and PetSmart

Have you ever gone to PetSmart, and then to PetCo, just to see what kinds of varying prices, information and general practices the two keep? It sounds like something really nerdy people do. Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s just something broke people like me do for fun in town and our kids want to see some animals!

If you do decide to waste a perfectly good afternoon doing just this, you are in for a treat. Did you know that PetCo and PetSmart employees openly bash one another? I am totally serious. Tell a PetSmart employee that PetCo tested your water and found it “too stressed” for fish and they’ll flip out on you. “What does that even mean?” a cute guy told us, happy to sell us fish to put in our “stressed” water. They did not die, by the way.

“What the heck?” asked the less cuter but more talkative PetCo dude when we told him PetSmart didn’t know how to answer our questions about fire-belly toads. “That’s ridiculous! They are the easiest pets to have. All you need is A, B, C, X, Y, and Z…” He yapped about how PetSmart’s keeping them in tanks half-full with water instead of little fake ponds was stupid and harder to clean, then he proceeded to show us a wide variety of products, as he is wont to do; the PetSmart people usually don’t suggestive sell nearly as much to us.

We didn’t buy anything from either one—though I can tell you that with or without a savings card, PetSmart is cheaper—but we definitely left more confused than we were when we arrived. At least at Petco, we could find the pet care sheets; we couldn’t locate them at PetSmart. Then again, at PetCo, there were dead floating fish, while PetSmart’s tanks were all pretty clean and void of posthumous creatures.

Who to trust? Who to believe? I couldn’t really tell you. I know PETA has had campaigns against PetCo for a while, so maybe they’re the bad guys. Ours is typically pretty clean and safe-looking, and they definitely won’t sell just anybody fish, though. That’s good, right? And the last time we went to PetSmart, the girl seemed like she couldn’t care less about our questions.

In the meantime, I think we might just fill this new tank we got for free from a relative with pet rocks…