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Crowning Glory

America’s 2018 Coolest Pet Businesses Coronated.




HEAR YE, HEAR YE! Winners of the 2018 America’s Coolest Stores Contest are hereby crowned and are now officially PETS+ royalty. A panel of  independent  judges  has  bestowed America’s Coolest Store titles on this year’s slate of winners, who rose above a crowded field of competitors. Our second annual contest drew more than 60 businesses to a lengthy entry process that includes essay questions, photos and media files in several categories.

We were impressed. So were our judges. And we hope you will be too. More than that, though, we hope you will use the three businesses in the following pages — as well as features on the nine Honorable Mentions in upcoming issues — as inspiration and idea-generators for your own business.

The America’s Coolest Stores Contest isn’t about finding the perfect business. None of these winning stores is perfect. Each is a work in progress. Just like you, each of these stores’ owners has dreams and aspirations for his or her business. It’s that drive toward constant improvement, trying new things — and sometimes even failing — that made these businesses what they are today. And it’s what will make them even cooler in years to come.

In studying how these Coolest Stores came to be, you may just find some of the tools and ideas that will help land your business on these pages next year — cartoon crowns and all!



Meet The Judges

Phil Chang is a retail industry expert and co-host of “This Commerce Life” podcast. Chang tracks emerging trends and insights that may impact businesses engaged in commerce. With 20 years of experience, he helps brands and retailers adapt to the new realities of retail and the next generation of commerce. Reach him at

Tom Crossman has designed entertainment centers and retail stores for FAO Schwarz, Dollywood and Toys ‘R’ Us. He has been a frequent speaker at pet industry events. Reach him at

Ruth Mellergaard is a principal with retail design form GRIB/3 International. She has been practicing retail interior design for 30 years. She is skilled as an interior designer with environmental awareness; as a lighting expert and a color and materials originator. She is an experienced speaker, a gardener and a pet parent to two cats, Madame and Mandy. Contact her at

Jamie Migdal has been working with dogs and their people and innovating within the pet industry for nearly 25 years. Having successfully built three national pet service companies, Her fourth and current company, FetchFind, sells staff training and other business solutions to pet care service companies around the globe. Find out more at

Robert “Jungle Bob” Smith owns Jungle Bob’s Reptile World in Selden, NY, which was named America’s Coolest Store in 2017. Check out his store at



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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