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Editor's Note

America’s Coolest — We Dropped ‘Store’ From The Contest Name. Here’s Why.

We recognize that the word no longer fits.




OVER THE PAST four and a half years, we have featured 46 pet businesses in the America’s Coolest Stores section of our magazine.

That’s a lot of cool!

All of the winners — yes, we consider every business profiled a winner, whether it came in first, second or third place or earned an honorable mention — have generously opened their doors to us so that PETS+ readers could learn from, be inspired by and relate to their experiences.

With this year’s contest, we decided to make a few changes and plan for even more to come. The majority of 2021 entries were from multi-service businesses, and while we have always used “Store” as a catchall, we recognize that the word no longer fits.

So we dropped it.

Rebranding as “America’s Coolest” will allow us to better reflect the evolution of our industry and to better recognize all of the many different types of pet businesses that are a part of it.

For example, Yuppy Puppy, this year’s winner, not only has retail but also grooming, boarding, day care, training and rescue — and it shares a building and partners with a veterinary clinic. Talk about multi-service! Others in the Top 10 also have multiple departments.

As mentioned, more changes will come with the 2022 contest. Hint: Dog walkers and pet sitters, grooming salons and others will be able to enter, as they have much knowledge to share, too. We also plan to adapt categories so that smaller businesses compete against each other and larger businesses do as well. Stay tuned for more info and get ready to enter come January.


One last note for the business owners who entered this year but did not win: You just haven’t won yet. We hope you will use the feedback from judges to adapt your entry for 2022.

In the meantime, please enjoy all of the cool this issue has to offer.

Five Great Tips From This Issue That You Can Do Today

  1. Lay down a RAWgust Challenge. (Calendar, p. 14)
  2. Turn 10 strangers — fellow indies — into business friends at SuperZoo. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 16)
  3. If you’re not saying “Hell yeah!” to a request, say “Hell no!” Or maybe just “no.” (Tip Sheet, p. 48)
  4. Considering taking your grooming mobile? Schedule a ride-along. (Benchmarks, p. 57)
  5. Don’t give new groomers a full schedule until you know their work ethic. (Real Deal, p. 60)



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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