OUR CONTEST IS NOW CLOSEDThanks for all your entries. Now it’s time to brace yourself for a summer blast of cool!The 2019 America’s Coolest Stores Contest is now closed for entries. Subscribe to our daily news bulletins to be the first to learn the winners in July, or wait to read all about the top three businesses — and find out which nine took honorable mentions — in our July/August issue, due out in mid-July.SEE RULES AND INSTRUCTIONS BELOWTIPS FOR A WINNING ENTRYWant to learn how to create a winning entry? Read our blog posts that give you step-by-step information on how to increase your chances at becoming an America’s Coolest Store. Click on the links below.TIP 1: GET YOUR CONTEST ENTRY IN GREAT SHAPE TIP 2: BEFORE YOU START TIP 3: BASIC INFO AND STATS TIP 4: YOU GOTTA STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD TIP 5: FINE-TUNE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE TIP 6: PHOTOS REALLY ARE WORTH AT LEAST A THOUSAND WORDS TIP 7: HERE’S WHAT YOU SAY (OR RATHER, WRITE) TIP 8: THE REST OF THE STORY 2019 RULES AND INSTRUCTIONSELIGIBILITYIf you’re a U.S. pet store, pet boutique, kennel, groomer, pet daycare, or pet sitter with six or fewer locations and have not previously been featured in America’s Coolest Stores, you are eligible for the contest. Previous winners may enter other store locations, and they may enter if their winning location has been substantially renovated, modified or expanded since being featured in PETS+. Businesses must have been open for at least one year prior to entering. And you must have a brick-and-mortar, physical location that caters directly to consumers.TO ENTERVisit petsplusmag.com/acs and follow the link to our entry page to create an account. Doing so will allow you to save a draft of your entry and update it later as needed. (To access your entry after creating an account, use your email address and password under Login.) In order to be considered for the competition, entrants must complete all required fields in the entry form (general information, online presence and store stats) and submit the following materials:1. Story: Store history / bio.Entrants are required to answer one question — “Tell us your business history”, in which you share the basic details of how your business came to be.This year, entrants can choose which additional questions they’d like to answer about their business — with a MINIMUM of 3 of 8 questions required. Here are the questions:What’s cool about the physical design of your business?What’s cool about your staff? What cool things do you do for them?What’s cool about your digital presence? (Including website, social media, online ordering, texting, etc.)What’s cool about your marketing?What’s cool about your community presence?What’s cool about the operational or structural part of your business?What’s cool about your customer experience?What’s one out-of-the-box idea you have implemented in the past year?Finally, there’s an extra credit question which allows you to answer one question about your business that we haven’t asked.2. 3-12 color images of the store’s exterior. (JPEG files only, up to 20MB in size.)3. 6-12 color images of the store’s interior AND ONE IMAGE OF YOUR STORE’S OWNER(S). (JPEG files only, up to 20MB in size.)4. 1-3 photos of your business’s owners. (JPEG files only, up to 20MB in size.)5. Marketing samples. 3-12 examples of your print, radio, billboards, stationery and collateral. (Image files should be JPEG or PDF format, up to 20MB in size.)6. Radio spots and videos (optional). Provide up to five YouTube (or other similar Web-based audio/video hosts) URLs on the lines provided. Note that the entry form will not accept audio or video files directly this year.Until March 15, 2019, you may log in to edit your entry by going to petsplusmag.com/acs and clicking on “LOGIN.” If you forget your password, click on the link in the “LOGIN” page to request it.JUDGING METHODOLOGYStep 1: From all initial entries, a group of finalists will be selected by PETS+’s editors.Step 2: Our panel of industry-expert judges will rate each finalist from 0-100 in six categories: story, exterior appearance, interior appearance, advertising and marketing, store website and overall individuality.Step 3: Total scores are calculated weighting the categories according to importance: story 50 percent, exterior 50 percent, interior 100 percent, advertising 50 percent, online presence 50 percent and individuality 100 percent. The top five businesses in each category are then determined. STORY 50% EXTERIOR 50% INTERIOR 100% ADVERTISING 50% ONLINE 50% INDIVIDUALITY 100% WINNERSWinners will be notified in early June. The top 12 businesses will be named in the July-August issue of PETS+ and featured in the magazine through June 2020. Entering the contest indicates an understanding that a reporter will interview the business’s owner, manager and staff and that the store is expected to provide high-resolution images of the store and owner(s) for publication. Winners will be permitted to use the America’s Coolest logo in their promotional materials, indicating they have been chosen as such by PETS+ magazine. MEET LAST YEAR’S WINNERRead the online profile of Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe of San Diego, CA, the winner of 2018’s America’s Coolest Store contest, which appeared in the July-August edition of PETS+. Or check out our July-August 2018 issue, which features business owner Leel Michelle on the cover.