The Pet Food Shop celebrates 50 years in Heathfield

26th April

Workers outside a shop
Elaine, Mike and Donna outside The Pet Food Shop in Heathfield

Tucked away off Station Road, in Station Approach, The Pet Food Shop in Heathfield is a treasure trove of everything to do with pets and a place where you can be sure to find the best quality food for your furry friends.

The Pet Food Shop is celebrating 50 years of trading this month and is one of the longest-established shops in Heathfield. It was originally started by Joan Smith in 1971 and then her son-in-law Paul Clark ran it until 2014. After working in the business since 2002, Elaine Ladd took over the shop in 2014 when Paul Clark decided to retire and offered to sell the business to her.

Since she took over the store Elaine has been gradually moving towards more natural and raw pet foods and treats which sets her apart from other pet feed stores and supermarkets.

Customers can buy everything from frozen reptile food to parrot and wild animal feeds for badgers and hedgehogs. The team can also place orders for live food such as locusts, crickets and worms. Elaine says the most unusual request she has ever had was for shark food!

“There has been a real shift to customers buying more natural food and treats and the side effects of this is that their animals have become healthier. There is a lot of evidence of skin problems and sores improving with a change of diet and many allergies and intolerances can be linked to food. The shift all started at the time of the mad cow disease outbreaks when people began thinking about what was in their own food and their pets’ food,” explains Elaine.

Just some of the healthy snacks for pets on offer

To meet the demand for quality food The Pet Food Shop has its own brands of cat and dog food which are as natural as possible with no e-numbers or preservatives. The team is also trying to stock brands made in the UK and steering away from the big supermarket brands. The most popular choices currently are Natural Instinct, Paleo Ridge and Nature’s Menu – all of which are ‘natural’. They also sell natural treats that are air dried, but you won’t find any raw hide chews which can be hazardous for pets.

The four strong team has just been joined by apprentice Charlie from East Sussex College who is an exciting addition to the team.

Kimberley and Charlie outside the store

“You need to be physically fit to work in the shop as it’s quite a demanding job and you certainly don’t need to go to the gym. I have a brilliant team who all live locally. They are all able to multi-task and fortunately none of them are squeamish as they sometimes have to pick out furry cow ears treats for dogs or frozen mice and chicks for our customers who have reptiles,” says Elaine.

Team members Donna, Mike, Kimberley and now Charlie pride themselves on being able to give good advice and urge people to think more carefully about what they are feeding their pets before rushing to the vets about feeding advice.

During the pandemic, the shop has seen a large increase in web orders and local deliveries and also click and collect orders. With 4,000 products on offer, running the shop can be challenging but the best seller out of all of them is Natural Instinct raw food. Some customers are vegan and vegetarian, but still buy meat for their dogs although the team can source vegetarian pet food if necessary.

Some of the food on sale at The Pet Food Shop

“Price wise we are cheaper on a number of products than other local pet food shops. People automatically think we might be more expensive because we are independent. We also run a loyalty scheme which allows customers to accrue points which gives you money back on your purchases and entry into special offers and competitions that are run throughout the year,” added Elaine.

The Pet Food Shop in Station Approach, Heathfield, caters for a large variety of pets and wildlife including dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, degus, chinchillas, chickens, ducks, fish and pond fish, hedgehogs, wild birds, aviary birds and reptiles. The shop has its own range of cat, dog, rabbit and pond fish foods and treats including a grain-free range. There are also hundreds of accessories ranging from dog beds to bird tables and small animal toys. Anything not in the shop can be ordered in for customers.

If you have any questions the staff at The Pet Food Shop, Heathfield, are always on hand should you need any advice. You can pop in or call 01435 864652.