Kelsie Pederson’s Lab mix Conley visits her at Hollywood Feed’s Decatur location.

stakes career in pet market

Written by Courtney O’Neal-Hill
Photos courtesy of Gene Pennington

Kelsie Pederson grew up on a small farm in Kentucky with all types of animals, but one in particular was her favorite.

“I really developed a love for dogs,” she says. ““The farm is really where it all began for me.”

Today, she’s the proud owner of Labrador-mix Conley, 5, and pit bull-mix Drax, almost a year old. “They’re both rescues, and they’re truly my children,” Pederson says. “Coming home to them means everything to me.” In perhaps a nod to her love of dogs, Pederson joined the team of cat-and-dog specialty pet store Hollywood Feed in 2012.

She took the leash as regional manager of the company’s Atlanta market in 2016, when its first metro location opened in Roswell. In a little more than two years, the chain has grown to 19 stores in the metro area, including its latest in Decatur.

“Some of the workers bring their dogs to work, and many of our customers bring their cats and dogs in as well,” she says, while walking the aisles of the Decatur store. Stocked with a wide-range of pet beds, including its Mississippi Made brand that’s sourced and produced in the United States, foods, collars, toys and more, the store is laid out like a four-legged-friend’s heaven. The Memphis-based chain also donates several thousand pounds of food and other supplies to rescue group partners each year.

Pederson says Hollywood Feed emphasizes customer service above all else. Its sales associates receive hours of training and regularly undergo updates on new products.

“Everyone here loves pets,” she says. “You don’t have to own a cat or a dog to work here, but you must at least love them, and that really shows in our stores.”

Pederson’s eyes light up as she talks about her two dogs. “I buy them stuff from the store all the time. Like I said, they’re my children, and I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

But Pederson isn’t partial to any one breed. “Honestly, I like all dogs,” she says. “Obviously, working here was a good fit for me, but believe it or not, I didn’t have a dog when I first started with the company. But, that quickly changed!”

The chain’s work with dog-rescue groups puts Pederson in contact with several dogs on a consistent basis. “It’s hard not to take many of them home with me. I have a feeling I’ll end up with a third sometime soon. But for now, there’s nothing in this world like the two I have.”