Along a sunny patch of Baltimore Avenue in West Philly is an unassuming purple storefront. Upon closer inspection, a passerby may spot a kitten or two in the window. Located mere blocks from Clark Park, a popular hangout for neighborhood dogs, Baltimore Pet Shoppe is essentially the only pet store servicing the West Philly and University City areas.
The store is independently owned and it shows. The compact Baltimore Pet Shoppe is probably no bigger than my own West Philly apartment, but it’s packed to the brim with stock for cats, dogs, and even some smaller hobby pets. It’s a no-frills, back-to-basics pet store selling the necessities. You won’t find any of those weird iced dog biscuits that look like sugar cookies. You know the ones.
Instead, the store provides a large assortment of cat and dog food, from basic brands like Science Diet to intermediate brands including Merrick, Taste of the Wild, Natural Balance, and Blue Buffalo. I was surprised to find that the store also stocks high-end brands like Orijen and Acana, independent—and expensive—pet food out of Canada. The selection among each brand was very wide, with varying proteins, active lifestyle formulas, and limited ingredient diets. There’s even a raw food freezer by the register.
Plenty of necessities…
Baltimore Pet Shoppe really just provides the majority of the goods you’d need for standard pet care—and at a decent price. Every price I saw beat the tags at pet stores at the other end of the city. It would be entirely possible to raise a dog on nothing but the store’s stock. Flea treatments and other medications, grooming, toys, treats, crates, and even cleanup solutions are all there.
Aside from dogs, cats seemed to be well served at the store as well. The cat toys and accessories, opposite the dog toys at the entrance of the store, were well stocked and surprisingly wide. The litter section also struck me as oddly large. Then again, I don’t own a cat, so I may not be the best judge.
...But not much else
While the store stocks all of the necessities, it doesn’t stock many of them. That is, aside from the food, everything else is just about as basic as it gets. I may not know much about cat stuff, but I do know how to judge a dog toy selection. Unfortunately, I was a bit taken aback by the bare bones toy stock, which was primarily made up of hard, plastic toys for large dogs. In fact, most of the products seemed to be geared towards much larger dogs than my own. There’s a decent selection of bulk items and chews—such as bully sticks and rawhide substitutes—but most were too big for Dipper.
The collars, leashes, and harnesses were all equally standard, as was the dog apparel, bowls, and beds. In fact, I don’t remember even noticing any of those things. Nothing in the store really stood out.
Baltimore Pet Shoppe is a pet store that fills a need for the community. It’s a role that the store fills well, but it’s not exactly a tourist destination—you won’t find anything there that you can’t get at your own neighborhood pet store. If Baltimore Pet Shoppe is your local pet store then hey, it’s not bad!