Plucky Little Competitors

By finding ways to woo customers away from the chains, Mom and Pop are doing just fine, thanks

Conventional wisdom would tell you Beverly's Pet Center in Pembroke Pines, Fla., should have a going out of business sign in its window. A family-owned shop that has sold animals and supplies since 1974, it's surrounded by hulking outlets of PetsMart, Pet Supermarket and Pet Supplies Plus. Facing the cut-rate prices of these giant chains, Beverly's was expected to get gobbled up faster than a mouse in a snake pit. But as in the wild kingdom, life in the retail jungle is full of surprises.

Beverly's turned out to be about as digestible as a porcupine. Kids love it and pester...

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