A dog's life is recession-proof tale
are still willing to spend on the family pet
By Christen Gowan, Staff writer
At Paw Lickers Bakery and Boutique in Greenfield Center, business had
been so steady that co-owners David and Marianne Gage were able to
expand into new space in the Stewart's Shops plaza on Route 9N.
The mother-and-son duo bake the doggie delectables sold in the Saratoga
County store and also market them to other stores. "It's been
fantastic," David Gage said of the recent expansion. "Seventy-five to
80 percent of the business is online through the Web site."
Gage credits good sales with the fact that the family dog doesn't seem
like just a dog anymore. "I think there's a major change over the last
10 years," the Paw Lickers owner said. "People are starting to look at
their pets more as family."
After an expansion that doubled the store's retail space, Paw Lickers
now carries more harnesses, dog beds, vitamin supplements and cat
It's estimated that pets live in 61 percent of American households and
pet owners will spend about $45.4 billion on their pets this year,
according to the American Pet Products Association. The majority of
those expenses are for food and supplies, such as beds and apparel.
Based in Greenwich, Conn., the not-for-profit association is composed
of more than 1,000 pet product manufacturers, their representatives,
importers and livestock suppliers.
Local dog boutique Sloppy Kisses started with one store on Broadway in
Saratoga Springs. Today, owners Melanie and Eugene Dallas have a second
location in Clifton Park Center and a third is in the works for Albany
that is expected to open this year.
Melanie Dallas credits hard work and social networking in the Spa City
for her business' success. Dallas recently started an effort in
Saratoga Springs to create a network of dog-friendly downtown
businesses. She also hosts revolving events, including "Yappy Hour," at
which canine owners accompanied by their dogs socialize over a cocktail
at a local establishment.
"When you become part of a community, people are more apt to shop at a
store with a face on it," Dallas said.
In Schenectady, Head to Tail on Union Street opened in June, and has
focused on providing one-stop shopping for its customers. A dog owner
can take the family's pooch for doggie daycare, get it groomed, have
acupuncture or reiki performed to relieve canine stress and pick up its
favorite brand of food.
"I think offering it all under one roof for your dog or cat, one place
for food, grooming or doggie activities, makes it a lot simpler for
people," said Head to Tail owner Marie DeBrocky.
For pet supply retailers, their businesses are about providing goods to
another member of the family. "People still want to get the best things
for their pets," Gage said, regardless of the economy. "We take comfort
in our pets. The last thing we want to do is cut them off."
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