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Protesters In Winnetka Say Petco Could Ruin Independent Pet Store

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A shopper leaves a Petco store July 14, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Texas Pacific Group and Leonard Green & Partners LP agreed to acquire the animal supplies retailer for $29 a share, 49 percent more yesterday's closing price. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A shopper leaves a Petco store July 14, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Texas Pacific Group and Leonard Green & Partners LP agreed to acquire the animal supplies retailer for $29 a share, 49 percent more yesterday’s closing price. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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WINNETKA, Ill. (CBS) — When you think of protest marches, you don’t usually think of Winnetka.  But a group of residents marched through much of the North Shore suburb on Friday in support of a local small business, and to protest the potential arrival of a “big box” retailer.

Fifty people and 12 dogs marched against the proposal by Petco to put a store on the eastern edge of downtown Winnetka.  Connor and Sloane Grant, all of 10 and 8, drew signs supporting the local pet store “Noah’s Ark.”

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“I love that place,” said Connor, who operates a dog-walking service.  His younger sister gushed about the store’s cat, Clementine, which sits in the window most days.

“I don’t want to see her have to leave,” Sloane said.

Angie DeMars owns Noah’s Ark and said she can provide service that Petco customers can only dream of having.

“I know every one of my customers by name,” DeMars said.  “We see them come in and we have their food up on the counter before they even come up.  We deliver.  I’ve held my customers’ hands when they’ve lost their pets.  I’m involved with a local non-profit in the city of Chicago and have rescued a ton of animals.  I’ve brought them into my home.  I’ve bottle-fed kittens.”

DeMars said she has had no turnover on her staff for eight years.

“It’s the beginning, potentially, of changing the values and culture of a village that’s historic and that’s not what we want,” said Alexandra Nichols, a 31-year Winnetka resident.

Winnetkans have stopped previous chain arrivals through zoning, but DeMars said village officials have informed her that Petco would need no variances.  It has not signed a lease on the 4,500-sq. ft. space, at 714 Elm St.

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