By Rahima Nasa
The Coop is the one-stop-shop for everything we need to nourish our family and, I recently discovered, our pup too. Nestled in the back of the aisle at the center of the Coop are shelves of food for dogs and cats, litter and plenty of treats. I’ve overlooked this aisle until recently, when my husband and I welcomed Cardamom (we call her Cardi) into our home. She is still a puppy so we pay a lot of attention to what she eats and the ingredients in her food. When I stumbled upon the pet food section I was delighted by the options. I wanted to know more about what was on the shelves so I called up the buyer for the pet food section, Tomo Mizoguchi.
Mizoguchi has been the Coop’s pet supplies buyer for about half a year and hasn’t quite been able to put his mark on the pet aisle yet. He’s tried his best to maintain the usual selection of items, because members have been consistently buying items from the Raw Dynamics and Honest Kitchen brands. Mizoguchi faces a challenge when certain items go out of stock for long periods of time. In those cases, he tries to switch the item out with something else from the same brand. For example, if a chicken flavor treat is out of stock, he’ll look for beef flavor, always checking the ingredient lists and avoiding anything with artificial coloring. “I go with looking for similar products within the same brand because it looks like the ones that we do have seem to be working,” Mizoguchi explained.
Mizoguchi has noticed that the cost of canned pet food, for both dogs and cats, has declined over the years. “We used to sell canned food that [was] around $1.50, but that has gone down so right now we sell the most of canned food that’s around $1,” he noted. Wild Harvest is the most popular brand among shoppers, according to Mizoguchi. The Coop is selling twice as much Wild Harvest cat and dog food compared to other brands.
But the pet food section has a lot more to offer than just kibble and canned food. Shoppers can pick up essentials like cat litter, poop bags, supplements and treats. Though technically not in the pet food section, raw options in the freezer section also feed Coop pets.
At a glance it would seem like dog treats dominate the pet section. There are several options of treats from local New York state brands like Raw Dynamics and Bocce’s Bakery. I’ve had my eye on some treats from Portland Pet Food Company, which was also started by a pet parent who wanted to give her dog healthier, more natural options to eat. But to my surprise, cat owners are the biggest consumers for the pet section. “Dollar amount wise, we sell three times more cat food than dog food,” Mizoguchi said.
While the pet section may have a relatively small footprint in the store, it’s clear that members rely on the section to feed their furry companions. Mizoguchi doesn’t have any plans to shake up the pet food section any time soon, so shoppers can rest assured that tried and true favorites like Wild Harvest will remain on the shelves. But the Coop is planning to add dried catnip in the coming months. “It’s interesting because I do get a lot of product suggestions for the other categories that I order for but I haven’t gotten any product suggestions for pet food,” Mizoguchi added. Until he does, he’s not expecting to make any major buying changes.
Shoppers who wish to see new products on the pet supply shelves are encouraged to send suggestions to Mizoguchi through their Member Services account (log in, click “contact us” and then the “product suggestion” tab).
Rahima Nasa, a public radio producer, has been a member of the Park Slope Food Coop since 2022.