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After several years in his family's supermaket business, Joe Bayless learned the importance of price, quality, selection and the fact that if you don't provide customers with good service, you won't have a leg to stand on.

In the case of Mr. Bayless' current customers, it's four legs.

Mr. Bayless, 48, is VP-marketing at PetsMart, where he moved from the comfortable world of Bayless Supermarkets two years ago.

With 186 stores to date, PetsMart is the second-largest pet supply superstore in the U.S. behind San Diego's PetCo. But Mr. Bayless doesn't plan on being No. 2 forever: The company recently purchased PetStuff, a 56-store Atlanta chain.

Mr. Bayless has built PetSmart with a blend of traditional and not so traditional marketing.

In the traditional category are TV spots from Evans Group that play on the emotional bond between pets and their owners; the tagline is "PetsMart, where pets are family."

Less conventional is PetsMart's pairing with Discovery Channel for a line of Discovery Channel Centers, a store-within-a-store selling items related to dinosaurs, wolves, backyard science and adoption kits for whales, among others.

"We felt there was a commonality in vision in the animal and nature world with our two companies," says Mr. Bayless.

The concept is also intended to build traffic among non-pet owners. "We're trying to expand the usefulness of our stores for our customers-even those that don't have pets."

PetSmart outlets open their doors to local humane societies for adoption centers, a practice that was a deciding factor in Mr. Bayless' joining the company. Last year alone, 60,000 pets were adopted through PetsMart store's "Love-of-Pet" adoption centers.

Of course, those who already know the joys of pet ownership are permitted to bring their furry charges into the stores to browse -as Mr. Bayless often does with his 7-year-old beagle, Polo. "He loves to shop at PetsMart," he says.

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