Doctors Foster and Smith Reaps Neeps

Pet supplies cataloger Doctors Foster and Smith is getting bigger by thinking small: The company in April agreed to acquire Web merchant Neeps, which sells small-pet products, for an undisclosed price. The deal includes TheFerretStore.com, ActiveK9.com, PetCareCentral.com, RabbitCentral.com, CritterStore.com, KittyStore.com, TheFerretStoreForums.com, and FerretFacts.com.

The sale allows Rhinelander, WI-based Doctors Foster and Smith the opportunity to expand its line of products for small pets by more than 600 items, including the Superior Choice line of ferret food, which is sold exclusively through TheFerretStore.com.

Neeps cofounder Scott Sanfilippo says that he and partner Joseph Palko decided that the time was right to sell the Wilkes Barre, PA-based pet supply business and focus on their Web development company, Solid Cactus. “We formed [Solid Cactus] in 2001 with two employees, and today we’re near 100,” Sanfilippo notes. “Our services and product offering keep growing, as does our customer base. In order to focus on this business, both Joe and I needed to devote our full time and attention to it. So in an effort to grow one company, we decided it was time to sell another.”

TheFerretStore.com is a “very specialized niche, and its customers are extremely loyal and dedicated to their pets,” Sanfilippo says. The acquisition enables Foster and Smith “to take an extremely well recognized brand name and build off it and really expand their product offering and become the leading supplier of ferret products.”

Matt Stelter, assistant manager of Internet marketing for Foster and Smith, says the deal “appears to be a perfect fit. This type of business is educational and interactive and is fostered to the ferret owner and ferret enthusiasts. There is a lot of focus on education, which is a major focus for Foster and Smith as well. All our catalogs have a strong focus on that, which dovetails very nicely with a lot of our core beliefs.”

A horse of a different color

While this latest expansion involves small mammals, earlier this year Foster and Smith grew its product line by thinking much bigger: It began selling supplies for horses and riders. The company added the products in response to customer requests and the understanding that many of its customers own horses in addition to dogs and cats.

So far the products, which include vaccines, horse blankets, halters, and leads, are available online only, though a print catalog has been under discussion. Foster and Smith already produces specialty catalogs selling bird supplies, aquarium products, reptile supplies, and items for small pets.

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