8/21/2017 Bentley’s Pet Stuff continues Milwaukee expansion

Bentley’s Pet Stuff, the Lincolnshire, Illinois-based pet store chain that has been working to open 19 locations in the Milwaukee market, has opened a new store in Oak Creek’s Drexel Town Square development. It’s holding a grand opening celebration at the store this weekend.

The company now has 11 pet shops open in the Milwaukee area, and plans to open another five next year. It is also in negotiations on a couple of acquisitions in southeastern Wisconsin.

Bentley’s last year acquired The Natural Pet in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood and Shorewood’s Pet Outpost. Its other existing stores in the area are:

  • Grafton, near the Meijer on Port Washington Road;
  • Brookfield, near the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market on West Bluemound Road;
  • Menomonee Falls, near the Pick ‘n Save on County Line Road;
  • Fox Point, in the Riverpoint Village Shopping Center;
  • Delafield, near the new Sierra Trading Post;
  • New Berlin, next to Mod Pizza;
  • Racine, next to Festival Foods.

The new stores opening in 2018 are in Wauwatosa, at the State Street Station development, and in locations that have not yet been finalized in Mequon, Greenfield, Pewaukee and Milwaukee.

Bentley’s, founded by Lisa and Giovanni Senafe in 2008 as Bentley’s Corner Barkery, acquired Chicago-based Pet Stuff in 2015 and became Bentley’s Pet Stuff. The company now has 395 employees across seven markets, 61 of whom are in southeastern Wisconsin. Its nearly 80 stores sell natural pet food, treats, toys and other pet accessories.

One of Bentley’s investors is Marcus Lemonis, a Marquette University alumnus and host of CNBC reality show “The Profit.” Bentley’s appeared on the show in October 2015, at which time Lemonis invested $1.7 million for a 40 percent stake. Lisa Senafe still owns a majority of the company, and another investor has a small stake, Giovanni said.

The company has been rapidly expanding in the Milwaukee area under Lemonis’ guidance. It targets shopping centers anchored by grocery stores or big-box retailers.

“It’s an errand, so people are there weekly,” Giovanni said. We love the grocery, dry cleaner, nail salon, bank centers, because even with online and e-commerce convenience, somebody’s always got to go to a bank or grocery store or get their dry cleaning done.”

On average, a store costs $150,000 to $280,000 to open and is about 2,500 square feet. The Senafes have taken on all the debt themselves, with Lemonis serving as their lender.

Giovanni said its possible Bentley’s will open more than 19 stores in the Milwaukee market.

“Online is picking up so much for us, we’re rolling out delivery in the Milwaukee area, we’re already doing online orders and delivery,” he said. “If the right opportunities come up, we’re always looking for it, we’re happy with all of the ones we have. They’re all doing above even our expectations.”