A History of Pets on Broadway

Pets on Broadway was founded in 1990 in the same building that stands on the corner of NE Broadway and 28th today. Its founder, Steve Benton, moved to Portland from LA in the late 1970s and worked at a post office for several years.

Having worked at a pet store when he was younger, Steve was always interested in animals and pet care, but his interest grew even more when he and his partner became the proud parents of a Quaker parrot in the 1980s. After a few years they found themselves opening a small bird shop at the Portland Saturday Market called The Bird Marketplace, where they provided birds and bird supplies.

Historical Photo of 2762 NE Broadway c.1929

In 1990, Steve set his sights on starting a pet store that would serve all pets, and when he got the lease at the historic 1910 building at 2762 NE Broadway, the story of Pets on Broadway began.

At the time, the building was split into three units that were leased separately, so Pets on Broadway was limited to the east side of the building for thirteen years. But that didn't hold the burgeoning shop back. Business took off from the start. Tom Perry, the store's owner since 2001, credits Steve's enthusiasm for tailoring the store’s products to customer needs and requests.

Steve and Tom began their journey together when they met at a square dancing event in 1994. They immediately hit it off and started dating, and within a year Tom left his job to work for Steve. For the next seven years they worked together until Steve passed away in 2001, and Tom took over ownership.

Though Tom’s new role was substantially different from what he was used to, he quickly grew fond of it. He brought new products into the store and got rid of older ones that weren't selling. He lowered prices to make products as affordable as possible, and he shifted the primary focus to dogs and cats.

In 2003, he was offered the opportunity to lease the entire building and, after careful consideration, decided to go for it. After a year-long remodel to transform the building into one large unit, Tom began to utilize his new space by expanding the product range and hiring new staff members. The following year, Pets on Broadway flourished even more.

"We really owe it to the customers," Tom says. "Portland is home to a large community of people who feel it's important to support local business. We couldn't do it without them."

When talking about the history of Pets on Broadway, Tom also makes it clear that a great deal of credit is due to store manager Joe Morton, who was brought on in 2010. "Joe has gotten a lot of things going that I never thought of," he says admiringly. In 2016 they started selling products online and delivering locally, and in 2019, they began another building remodel.

Tom was able to buy the historic building in 2013, and now the building on the corner of NE Broadway and 28th that was once home to a pharmacy, a grocery store, an auto repair shop, and even a bowling alley is known fondly by locals as Pets on Broadway, Portland’s largest, locally owned, independent pet shop.