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Before You Start

The very first step is to make sure that you're eligible.

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HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT: Before you start your America’s Coolest Stores contest entry, let’s make sure you’re eligible.

Eligibility Criteria

Entrants must:

  • Be a U.S. brick-and-mortar pet store; boarding facility, grooming salon or day care with retail; or a combination of these.
  • Cater directly to consumers.
  • Have been open at least a year prior to entering.
  • Have six or fewer locations.
  • Have not previously been featured in America’s Coolest Stores. EXCEPTION: 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+.
  • Now: Are all the above things true of your business? If so, you’re good to go!

Logging In

Between now and March 15, you will always log in to edit your contest entry at the following URL:

petsplusmag.com/acs

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Bookmark it. You’ll also want to make a note of the email address you use to sign up for the contest. Or else we’ll be receiving more than a few calls from those who can’t remember which email address they’d used. For sake of convenience, you might make a note of your password, too. As long as it’s unique (i.e., it isn’t the same password you use for other sites, like your email), there’s not a real serious security risk if someone happens to find the Post-It note on which you scribbled it.

One thing you might want to do is establish a specific person to be your point person for the contest. This could be an owner or an employee, but it should be someone who is relatively computer-literate and who has a little extra time to devote to compiling information and photos, and preparing the entry.

And the final note for this week: Historically, a lot of ACS entrants tend to leave their entry to be completed at the last minute. Some of them still do fine, but many discover too late that they don’t have exactly what our judges are looking for easily at hand — that is to say, they could get it, but not in time for the deadline.

Certainly, preparing your entry isn’t the most time-consuming thing you’ll do all year. But it does take time — so if you’re going to do it, it makes sense to do it right. You’ll be well served if you or your point person set aside a specific chunk of time each week, perhaps during a time when business is normally slow, to work on it — hopefully using this series of tips as a guide.

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