Pet parents who are pinching pennies in these lean economic times should take advantage of opportunities to save by ordering in large quantities, whether by buying individually in bulk or by networking with others who need the same pet supplies. Items that are easily purchased in bulk include food, chews, litter, simple toys, bedding and more. The Internet has made it possible for any group of shoppers to wield the same purchasing power as a small pet store, if not more. Network and negotiate to get the best deals possible.
Finding Bulk Deals
Bulk buying is easier now than ever before. Many websites and catalogs offer bulk deals to all customers. Use your favorite search engine to find bulk deals on items you use in large quantities. For example, I order Bully Sticks in bulk because my dogs go through them very quickly. If you use raw food, consider purchasing meat in bulk as well. A cheap or free chest freezer can be located through Freecyle or Craigslist in order to store large quantities of raw meats.
If you can’t find any obvious bulk deals on something you need in bulk, try calling or emailing the manufacturer directly. Explain how much of their product you would like to order and how much you’re willing to pay. The worst the manufacturer can say is “no,” and frequently they’ll agree to your deal or at least counter-offer with a different price.
If you think prices are good when you buy a year’s supply of a product, you’ll love the deals available to a group of similar buyers ordering together. I recently managed to get 50 pounds of high-quality green tripe for under $1 per pound thanks to a co-op order. Toys, treats, dry or canned food and chews are also available at excellent prices when a group buys collaboratively.
Try using Yahoo! Groups and forums for local pet owners to find or organize your co-op. If there’s already one in your area, join up and suggest some new orders, or offer to help negotiate with manufacturers or to receive a group order and distribute it. If not, drum up interest among area pet parents by pointing out great deals other co-ops have gotten. Then, organize and contact manufacturers for wholesale pricing.
Make sure that you require some sort of confirmation from members before placing a large order. You don’t want to end up stuck with hundreds of pounds of extra pet supplies! If possible, ask for payment in advance, through an escrow service if necessary until trust is established within the group.