General manager brings community focus to Petco

This article has been modified to note that there is no agreement between Petco and the Gastineau Humane Society for pet adoptions.


Juneau’s new Petco pet supply store will open with General Manager Barry Goodson at the helm. A barrel-chested man with a bristly salt and pepper beard, Goodson has worked his way up through the Petco ranks.

“I’ve had every job,” Goodsons said. “I started out as a part-time freight guy. I’ve worked my way through the stores, through the management jobs. I’d like to think I’m bringing something special to my people.”

Goodson comes to Juneau from Spokane, Wash. He was a Petco General Manager there, too. He’s been in Alaska for three weeks.

“I have been so impressed with the giving of the Alaskan people. You get great help from people just from asking directions, they want to give you their… ‘hey this is a great restaurant.’ They share so openly, and I love that.”

Juneau was a good fit for a new Petco, Goodson said.

“We know that Alaskans and Juneau people care about their animals.”

Petco will open on Jan. 2, 2012 with a grand opening on Jan. 5.

Goodson’s employees were setting up shelves on Dec. 15.

Most of the opening celebrations will take place over the weekend of Jan. 6-7. Goodson is still putting together all of the particulars.

“I have like seven lists of what is important today,” Goodson said.

Though Petco will miss the holiday shopping season this year, Goodson said he appreciated Petco’s willingness to wait and not force the opening.

“Maybe the community would not of gotten the store that we’re going to present, they might have got short-changed. Let’s give them the store that they deserve and lets push it back,” Goodson said.

Petco will carry Alaskan fish food and other pet treats.

According to the state Office of Fisheries Development, in 2009 there were an “estimated 172 million companion animals living in 62 percent of United States households, where pet owners spend on average, $30 billion annually to feed their companions.”

“Adding Alaska seafood to pet foods and snacks targeting this high-end demographic satisfies customer buying preference for pet foods that must be a source of high nutrition, taste, and means of maintaining excellent animal health,” the Fisheries Development website says.

Petco hopes to partner with Gastineau Humane Society to offer pet adoptions to its customers.

“It’s a great shelter, it’s clean, its really well taken care of,” Goodson said.

Chava Lee of the Gastineau Humane Society said that is not an option. "We have no partnering agreement with them and we would not adopt out our animals through them."

Petco doesn’t sell any cats or dogs.

“Petco has a forever home mantra,” Goodson said. “We want to help these organizations find forever homes for these animals.”

Goodson said Petco will sponsor events throughout the year, including a hamster derby.

“We set up a racetrack for hamsters in balls,” he said. “People bring their hamsters in to race them and we give out prizes.”

The pet supply store will offer smaller creatures for sale, including fish, saltwater invertebrates, aquatic turtles, goldfish and small animals like hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas and ferrets.

“Which a lot of people find very interesting,” Goodson said.

The reptiles department will have non-poisonous ball pythons, red tail central boas and corn snakes for snake enthusiasts just getting started. Lizard lovers will find bearded dragons, Chinese water dragons, leopard geckos, a good starter lizard, “it’s the easy one for kids,” Goodson said.

Goodson said he is excited to offer natural and organic foods to pet lovers. People are themselves eating more organic and natural food and are feeding it more to their pets, he said.

“We’re all about extending our lives, we’re all about extending out pets’ lives. They truly have become our family members so we want to extend their lives as well as we can,” Goodson said.

Petco is located in the west end of Nugget Mall. Petco will not open into the mall, as a new OfficeMax will open in between. Petco’s competitor, Wee Fishie, is located across the parking lot, but is also considered part of the mall. Wee Fishie sells birds, fish, small pets and reptiles, food and supplies. It has been in operation since as early as 1991. Wee Fishie is owned by Wee Fishie LLC, Andrew Nelson and Emiliano Ruiz, according to the state’s Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing website.

Wee Fishie declined to comment.

Goodson said Petco did not plan to locate near its competitor.

“We are very happy to have Wee Fishie as our neighbor,” Goodson said. “It was not a planned thing. We are like any other business, we do a lot of research, we talked a lot with the mall people about space. We are hoping we have a great relationship with Wee Fishie.”

The store is a bit less than 12,000 square feet.

Out of about 25 employees, only two were hired from Outside.

“Everybody else, all of my management team and all my staff, is from here locally,” Goodson said.

Depending on the volume of the store, Goodson said he may hire more.

Employees will get a lot of training, Goodson said.

“We teach them about fish, we teach them about small animals… not just that the furry ones go in the box,” he said.

“We are really into the education department, we want to make sure that when a person leaves here with an animal, they are 100 percent sure that that is the animal they want and that they can take care of it,” Goodson said.

“It is important to me that my employees are happy, because it all transfers. If they are happy, my customers are happy.”

Goodson said he is looking forward to all the new faces coming through the door.

“I hope we have something that provides for them and if not, we’re going to help them find it. Whether it is from us, whether it is from Wee Fishie, whether it is from Swampy Acres, we want to be part of the community and we want to be helpful in that respect,” Goodson said.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at


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