by Richard J. Alley
Where AutoZone might be your go-to supplier for motor oil, wiper blades, and spark plugs, Hollywood Feed is certainly your first stop for pet food, dog leashes, and catnip. And the two have more in common than just a Memphis base of operations. Hollywood Feed’s president, Shawn McGhee, purchased the pet supply company 10 years ago while still an executive vice president for the auto parts retailer.
“There are a number of AutoZone people who have seen our behind-the-scenes, and they all remarked how AutoZone-esque Hollywood Feed is,” McGhee says. “Much of the infrastructure and much of the benchmarks are very similar to what AutoZone was a number of years ago when I was there.”
Just as AutoZone has rapidly expanded throughout North and South America, Hollywood Feed’s growth has taken the company from a Memphis-area concern to 50 stores in five states. McGhee says the pet supplies and services industry sees 2 to 3 percent yearly growth, and $63 billion in revenue. Hollywood Feed has grown 40 to 50 percent annually during McGhee’s tenure. “Lately we’ve caught notice, more than anything because of our size,” he says. “You know, you reach a certain size and scale and people start to notice you.”
It’s a far cry from where the company was in 2006 when Hollywood Pet Star, as it was known, was struggling to compete with majors Petco and PetSmart. McGhee saw opportunity there, saying, “I thought I had a different model and different plan, and convinced my partners to back it and support it with us. We’ve been off to the races ever since.”
The most recent growth has happened in Georgia and Texas where, at this writing, two stores in the Dallas area are under construction. “When you have Dallas at 7.2 million people and Atlanta at 6.7 million, those two markets can feed a tremendous amount of growth before you have to start looking to other major markets.”
But he is looking at other markets, adding, “Our goal has always been to be national. Because of our distribution we already have and the investments that we made [focusing on the Southeast first] just made the most sense.”
Closer to home, Hollywood Feed manages its warehousing and distribution from its 103,000-square-foot facility on Broad Avenue. To better handle the multi-state expansion, McGhee is in the process of purchasing and renovating warehouse property at 1339 Warford Street in North Memphis. Granted an eight-year PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) from Memphis and Shelby County in March for the 180,000-square-foot property, McGhee plans a $3.1 million total investment and an additional 31 jobs. Company-wide Hollywood Feed employs about 300. McGhee looks to be up and running on Warford in the first quarter of 2017.
On the retail side, the company has 13 retail stores in the Memphis area. One of the few remaining original businesses on Broad Avenue in Binghampton, Hollywood Feed’s flagship store was at home long before it became an arts district. Seemingly out of place now as 18-wheelers attempt to navigate the increasing pedestrian traffic and Hampline bike lanes, it will move its retail operation across the street to the northeast corner of Sam Cooper Boulevard and Collins Street. That property is owned by Greg and Carla Touliatos and will be built-out by them. The 5,000-square-foot store will front onto Collins and has a planned opening in the first quarter of 2017. “It’s definitely an upgrade from being on Broad Avenue when you have 37,000 cars a day driving by on Sam Cooper,” McGhee says.
Along with its geographical growth, Hollywood Feed has expanded offerings through its own Mississippi Made line of dog beds, dog collars, leashes, lampshades, picture frames, and other items made from fabric remnants, all manufactured in Tupelo, Mississippi. A bakery specializing in dog treats from a professionally trained French pastry chef recently opened adjacent to their Union Avenue location in Midtown.
With its movement in the Southeast and a future in the national market, Hollywood Feed remains at home in, and committed to, Memphis. As part of this commitment to their customers and community, the Overton Park dog park is sponsored by Hollywood Feed, and their “You Bought, We Give” program donates items to area pet rescues and shelters.
“All of our kids, in some form or fashion, if you walk into a store, are likely to be the individual that is waiting on you or ringing up your transaction or checking in an order that’s delivered,” McGhee says, referencing his own and his business partner’s children. “It’s very much a family business.”
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