Pets and their owners attended the grand opening of the Payson PetSmart in Rim Country Mall on Saturday, March 23 to see what the new store offered.
At the ribbon cutting, hardly anyone could move around because of the crowd of man and beast. Little dogs yipped, big dogs woofed and friends reconnected.
Soon after the doors opened at 9 a.m., a long line of people waited to check out their shopping carts full of food, treats and toys.
“I’ve never seen such a well-attended store opening,” said John Wakelin, a Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce board member and dog owner. “I think it’s because everyone could bring their dogs.”
Back by the fish tanks, children oo’ed and ah’ed over the selection of scaly pets, while at the front of the store Humane Society volunteers showed off cats for adoption. Already, the shelter has adopted out more than 25 cats since the opening of the PetSmart store last week.
Unfortunately, the store needs a town permit before it can show dogs, but a cat house sits empty at the Humane Society of Central Arizona shelter because of all the adoptions. A sign above the in-store adoption center proudly listed 5,336,345 adoptions made through PetSmart stores.
Items for sale included costumes for dogs including tutus, hair bows, rain boots and coats. Toys for dogs, cats and birds filled walls.
Outside, both the Humane Society and PAWS in the Park had tables set up to sell gear and raffle tickets and to share information about their organizations.
Dorothy Howell, director of the PAWS in the Park organization, said PetSmart would donate money to help with a metal shade and rain cover for dog owners in the park. “We organized to bring an off-leash dog park to Payson,” said Howell.
PAWS maintains the dog park, helps to spay and neuter dogs in the Rim Country and has an emergency fund to help dog owners suddenly confronted with their pet’s serious health issue.
PAWS has guest speakers the first Wednesday of every month in the library.
Howell said at one of the PAWS meetings, she heard a nutritional analysis of dog food varieties that helped her pick a favorite brand. “I use Purina for my three poodles,” she said.
PAWS will have a series of fund-raisers starting with a bake sale at Safeway on March 30 and 31. On May 18, PAWS will host Dog Day in the Park. Owners will dress up their pooches and come to the dog park off of McLane Road across from the library to enjoy hot dogs and pulled pork. Awards will be given for the best costumes, best barkers and best tail wagers.
The owners of Rim Country Mall honored architect Bernie Lieder, former head of Payson’s design review board and longtime local business leader, for his efforts developing the shopping center.
They had a plaque installed on a wall near PetSmart with Lieder’s name after his passing in early March.
According to Andy Seleznov, director of leasing with Larsen Baker, Lieder helped the center quite a bit, especially bringing Big Lots to town.
“He was a great guy,” Seleznov said. “He was so involved with the community.”