November 26, 2014

Saks Fifth Avenue Not Laughing About Pet Food Retailer Snaks Fifth Avenchew

Snaks Fifth Avenchew

Snaks Fifth Avenchew is a punny name. The company, which sells treats for dogs and horses, clearly chose its name as a spoof of the famous luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue. But Saks doesn’t think the name is funny at all. In fact, it sent a cease and desist letter to the small online retailer last month.

Saks claims that the name infringes on the company’s brand. But Carrie Sarabella, proprietor of Snaks Fifth Avenchew, feels differently. She feels that the name is more of a tribute to Saks, a brand that she has been a fan of for years. She explained to Reuters:

“I knew that Saks was able to offer me the best of what I was looking for, and I wanted to do the same thing with pets. It was almost as if I was honoring and complimenting what they always gave to me, but unfortunately they don’t feel the same way.”

For now, Sarabella says she doesn’t plan to change the name. Saks hasn’t said if it will pursue any legal action against the small company.

Sarabella just started Snaks Fifth Avenchew earlier this year. Even though they’re for animals, her treats are packaged to look like human food such as cupcakes, donuts, and potato chips.

The treats are also created specifically for pets with food allergies, like Sarabella’s pet cocker spaniel, Pinero. So the products are aimed at high-end customers, perhaps similar to the kind of customers who would patronize Saks Fifth Avenue. And,of course, Sarabella has created her whole product line and business model to offer a similar high-end customer experience.

Snaks Fifth Avenchew clearly isn’t the first company to employ a parody name. Another reason Sarabella decided to go with a parody name is because she was familiar with other pet brands that have done the same, including Chewy Vuitton and Bloomingtails.

Sarabella is also not the first small business to upset a big brand over perceived misuse of its name. Last year coffee chain giant Starbucks Corporation took The Black Bear Micro Roastery, a small family owned New Hampshire business, to court over its Mr. Charbucks Blend.

Two successive court decisions in that case sided with owners Annie and Jim Clark of Black Bear, saying the name of their product didn’t significantly dilute the larger company’s brand and trademarks.

As a small business owner, when choosing a brand name, you need to think not only about whether you might prevail in such a confrontation, but whether you have the resources to deal with such  a legal conflict if it arises.

In the case of Snaks Fifth Avenchew, it remains to be seen whether the bigger brand will take the issue further.

Image: Snaks Fifth Avenchew

8 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles and feature stories. She is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, social media, and creative topics. When she’s not writing for her various freelance projects or her personal blog Wattlebird, she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

8 Reactions

  1. The name made me chuckle actually! And it didn’t have any effect on what I do or do not think about Saks Fifth Avenue.

    I understand why she called it that – I wonder if Saks knows why (fully). I mean it’s like the Saks of the pet world. I’d take it as a compliment, but that’s just me. Them serving an order has the potential to reflect more badly on them, in my opinion, than whatever harm they think the name of her business might cause them.

    • They haven’t taken any official legal action yet (as of last week when I wrote this, anyway) so maybe they don’t feel it’s actually that detrimental to their image. I’m not sure. They might have done some research since then and decided not to, or they might have a good reason I haven’t considered for why this name could have a negative impact on their image.

      • I hear you.

        I guess at the end of the day, it’s their name, their business, their reputation, even if I don’t see what the harm could be. It’s not my business, or mine to protect. So if they do what they feel they need to do, so be it.

  2. I have to tell you, Annie: it’s a great name.

    Thanks for reporting on this.

    I have to tell you something else:

    I read the name of the store fast and I did think it was a Saks Fifth Avenue in-store, store.

    (Sorry Snaks Fifth Avenchew. I have to be honest here. )

    The Franchise King®

    • Joel: I thought the same. If I would be responsible for sales / marketing / social media at S.F.A, I would start selling Snaks Fifth Avenchew at the store! ;)

      • Ah, but Saks Fifth Avenue doesn’t want its image tarnished, Martin. We can’t have that.

      • That would be an interesting path for resolving this! I actually didn’t think about Snaks being somehow affiliated with Saks, but I can definitely see how people would think that. We can all agree it’s a clever name though :)

      • Annie: I think it could actually bring some publicity to Saks and potentially more customers. It’s indeed a clever name. I don’t see the harm in it.

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