State Line Tack: Rest in Peace

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Background: State Line Tack, once based in a huge old barn on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire state line, was a leading force in retail equestrian marketing in the 1990s. The location was ideal; shoppers from densely populated Massachusetts flocked to the store for its discount prices and the fact that it was on the side of the state line where there was no sales tax.

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As the horse industry boomed in the 1980s and 1990s, so did State Line; their glossy catalogs were like bibles for horsemen, and lay scattered about in barns and stables across the country. The original store is not far from here, and I was a frequent customer, although I tried hard to patronize locally-owned tack shops as well.

When Petsmart bought State Line, the plan was for many of the pet chain's stores around the country to have "State Line" departments where horse products would be sold.

The old barn in New Hampshire was empty for a while, but was converted two years ago to become the deluxe flagship store of State Line's one-time competitor, the upscale Dover Saddlery, based in Massachusetts.

State Line Tack played a big role in the horse industry, one that not many people would stop to realize. They took chances, introduced lots of supplements and health products, and helped launch the businesses of many entrepreneurs and manufacturers of small and specialty horsecare products.

Today's news--that Petsmart has sold State Line to another catalog retailer--probably means the end of State Line. The company helped build the huge retail horse industry that we know today, and its success encouraged so many of the mail-order catalogs that now fill our mailboxes.

Official press release from www.petsmart.com:

PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 30, 2007--PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM), today announced the sale of its State Line Tack equine assets to PetsUnited, the privately-held holding company for a web-based multi-marketer of pet and equine products, including dog.com, fish.com and horse.com.

The sale, which closed today, includes the State Line Tack brand, inventory, customer lists and certain assets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company announced its plans to exit the equine business in February.

PetsUnited said it will move the State Line Tack online and catalog business from Brockport, NY, to its Hazelton, Penn. facility in the next 60 days. However, online and catalog orders and shipping will continue as usual during the transition period.

PetSmart now will pursue opportunities to sell its 396,000-square-foot Brockport facility, which includes a warehouse, call center and retail store located on approximately 32 acres of land. Call center and fulfillment operations for the company's online pet business (petsmart.com) will move to an outside e-commerce provider by Sept. 1, and the store will close August 25. The approximately 240 associates who work at the Brockport distribution center and call center will be laid off in stages over the next six months as the company phases out operations. The Brockport facility is expected to be fully vacated by the end of October.

Lehman Brothers Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor to PetSmart with respect to the sale.

About PetSmart

PetSmart, Inc. is the largest specialty pet retailer of services and solutions for the lifetime needs of pets. The company operates more than 908 pet stores in the United States and Canada, a growing number of in-store PetsHotel cat and dog boarding facilities, and is a leading online provider of pet supplies and pet care information (www.petsmart.com). PetSmart provides a broad range of competitively priced pet food and pet products; and offers complete pet training, pet grooming, pet boarding, doggie day camp and pet adoption services. Since 1994, PetSmart Charities, Inc., an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit animal welfare organization, has donated more than $52 million to animal welfare programs and, through its in-store pet adoption programs, has saved the lives of more than 2.9 million pets.

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