Online pet supply company raises $10M even as sector’s growth plummets

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petfooddirect2.jpgWhat is it with pet supplies and Internet booms?

Forrester Research, a market research company, projects that sales of pet supplies will grow 30 percent this year, down from 81 percent last year, part of a barrage of statistics used by the New York Times to cry out that online sales are now slowing overall.

Pets.com and its sock puppet (pictured on top), of course, symbolized the boom and bust of the last Internet era, going from IPO on Nasdaq to liquidation in nine months. It was best known for its Super Bowl ad, which cost the company $1.2 million.

Now, Pet Food Direct, of Harleysville, Pa., an online pet food retailer that was born right around the time of Pets.com’s demise in 2000, has raised $10 million to — what else? — spend on its advertising and marketing.

The difference is that this time the backer is a private equity firm: LLR Partners. Pet Food Direct has already raised $16 million.

Another difference is that online pet supplies are indeed growing, at a healthy 30 percent clip, even if that growth rate is down significantly.