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Bark Life, Four Muddy Paws and Dexter’s Deli take home the top spots in this year’s PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores contest.

What makes a business cool? Is it a smart and stylish design? Thoughtfully chosen products? Expert services? How about innovative practices and policies? Community involvement?

For our fourth annual PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores contest, we asked businesses from around the U.S. to tell us exactly what makes them so cool. We were floored by the response, especially with a deadline during the pandemic. Thank you to all of the stores that entered. We wish you all could win!

But we had to narrow the field to first, second and third, plus seven honorable mentions. To help our editorial team with this difficult task, we asked industry experts to join us in evaluating the entries, which included mini-essays, photography and media.

The top three winners impressed the judges with their unique attributes as well as their business savvy.
And the winners are…

FIRST PLACE: BARK LIFE — Tammy and Mike Vasquez took great care when designing their Seminole, FL, store with boarding, day care and grooming. Every little detail makes the experience exceptional for pets and their people, as well as staff, the latter of which includes Mike Vasquez Jr. and competes as a fishing team!

SECOND PLACE: FOUR MUDDY PAWS — This store in St. Louis, MO, has deep roots in its community, from how respectfully Jeffrey Jensen and Matt Brazelton renovated their historic building to their charitable and volunteer efforts that benefit pets and humans alike. And their customers love “In the Kitchen with Four Muddy Paws,” their informative and entertaining Facebook Live show.

THIRD PLACE: DEXTER’S DELI — A true Californian, Tori Rosay looks for every opportunity to champion and support her city and state, whether it be designing her store to reflect its hip and historic San Diego neighborhood or emphasizing raw food and other brands made locally. She can also boast a seriously low turnover rate, with one employee recently celebrating 22 years.

We hope their stories, as well as those of the honorable mentions running in upcoming issues, give you ideas for making your store even cooler than we know it already is. Perhaps so cool you’ll consider entering our contest next year. See you in 2021!