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Hats Off To The Champs

The 2017 coolest pet retailers unveiled!




IF WE LEARNED ONE THING from our first America’s Coolest Stores Contest, it’s that there are a lot of very cool pet businesses all across the country.

So, what is cool? That’s hard to put a finger on, exactly, because “cool” is an amalgam of original ideas, tweaked unoriginal ideas, even stolen ideas, wrapped up into the package of an individual business … and that business’s individual market. What works one place, may not work elsewhere, after all. But the two underlying aspects of any Cool Store are being different — approaching a conventional business model with unconventional ideas — and a willingness to share. We want Pets+ readers to be inspired by these businesses and to take away from each story an idea or two that will work in their own stores.

In the Pets+ America’s Coolest Stores Contest, we try to put a finger on “cool,” by asking independent judges to rate entries in several categories: Aesthetics, Story History, Online Presence and Cool Factor. The top three winning businesses are featured in these pages, and Honorable Mentions will appear as Cool Store features in upcoming issues.

Be on the lookout for announcements for the 2018 Pets+ America’s Coolest Stores Contest, which will open for entries in January. Meantime, if you think you have a cool store, email us at



Jim Ackerman is a renowned marketing speaker ( His Principle-Centered Marketing Coaching program ( helps small businesses improve their marketing results. Email him for a free marketing fitness checkup:

Candace D’Agnolo owns a successful pet business, Dogaholics, and offers business and consulting at Pet Boss Nation. Get a free 90-day Pet Boss Action planner to tackle all your business goals at Contact her at

Nancy Hassel is founder and president of American Pet Professionals, an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at

Shawna Schuh is a certified speaking professional, an executive coach, a master neurolinguistic programming practitioner and president of Women in the Pet Industry Network. She helps professionals experience and profit from insights about themselves and their businesses. Email her at

J. Nichole Smith is author of Million Dollar Dog Brand: A Petpreneur’s Essential Guide to Creating Demand, Profit & Influence. Let her help you build your brand at



P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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