The pet supplies industry is a popular and growing niche market of retail. Recession or not, consumers have continued to buy pet supplies -- including food, clothing, even carriers and carriages -- and that trend is not going away. "Consumers see their pets as a part of their family, and they spend time researching the products they feed them, the products they sleep in and the products they play with," Grannis says. More importantly, pet stores, whether large or small, are often very good at meeting the personal connection with their shoppers, because many stores host in-store events such as adoptions. Another appealing factor to these stores: Shoppers can bring their pets with them. "These types of personal connections really drive people to the stores," Grannis says. "The new pet-friendly store trend is very important. It makes a big difference as to whether or not you can leave the house" to shop. It may have been one reason Pets.com became a classic example of a dotcom failure. Online retailers -- even the brand-new wag.com, birthed some 11 years after Pets.com and its sock-puppet mascot packed it in -- can't do it.