Pet Food Express aims to help Oakland’s economy

December 03, 2010

Heather Ishimaru, KGO-TV/DT

By Heather Ishimaru

Oakland has pet lovers to thank for a nice boost to its economy. That's because a major chain store, Pet Food Express, just moved its corporate headquarters to a massive warehouse space near the Coliseum.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate at the Pet Food Express headquarters grand opening in Oakland. The company is celebrating its move from into huge new digs, the Oakland police are celebrating the donation of 10 new canine bulletproof vests and Oakland city leaders are celebrating a boost to the economy.

Mayor-Elect Jean Quan says its evidence the city's better qualities are not always overlooked.

"You know you need to take a fresh look at the city one of the most beautiful in the world, centrally located in booming part of the East Bay, projected to have more jobs and housing over next two decades. We have better weather than San Francisco and rents are cheaper," she said.

The 147,500 square foot space is a distribution center and home office. Co-owner and founder Michael Levy started the company in San Francisco 30 years ago and it outgrew its last San Leandro location years ago.

"We want to have a grade 'a' or class 'a' warehouse. There are very few in the Bay Area, [we] searched for two years and found this one in Oakland," he said.

Pet Food Express employs more than 500 people company-wide and110 in Oakland. The company's getting a deal on rent, about 30 percent less than the last tenant, the U.S. Postal Service -- and there are tax incentives since it's in the Coliseum redevelopment zone.

Levy expects to hire more support staff here in Oakland.

"We always try to promote from within, but we're always looking for great new people that love pets," he said.

The building is in Councilman Larry Reid's district, he says there was not a lot of interest from potential renters.

"To have their corporate headquarters and their distribution center and corporate headquarters located in the city of Oakland and my district was a great day," he said.

The company expects to open nine or 10 new stores in the Bay Area within a year.

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