Unique artisan-made products, welcoming atmosphere keep customers returning regularly.
STORY BY PAMELA MITCHELL
Shop Dog Boutique
SIOUX FALLS, SD
OWNER: Ellyn Suga
OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2012
AREA: 1,800 square feet
EMPLOYEES: 1 full-time,4 part-time
Some pet parents simply pick up supplies. Others turn shopping for their pups into an outing everyone can enjoy. Ellyn Suga built her Sioux Falls, SD, business with the latter group in mind.
“Shop Dog has become a favorite destination for young families and couples who are excited to plan their day’s adventures around visiting our store with their furry companions,” she says.
Suga credits the popularity to a mix of high-quality standbys and limited-edition products, as well as a social atmosphere. The rustic chic decor — chandeliers help light charming displays on wooden-pallet tables and antique ladders — appeals to those who prefer boutique to big box.
Shop Dog carries natural foods and treats from the likes of Fromm, Stella & Chewy’s and Himalayan Pet Supply. Toy lines include West Paw, Ruffwear and Planet Dog. Nootie, Earthbath and Zymox are among the grooming products sold. When it comes to accessories for people and pups, though, Suga turns to U.S. artisans.
“I love browsing Etsy and finding someone who has never been approached for wholesale,” she says. “It’s fun to work with them and help their business grow.”
Handcrafted collars at the online marketplace regularly catch her eye.
“We’re known in town for our fun collars. One of my favorite finds is Very Vintage. They are always introducing new fabrics.”
Such frequently updated inventory attracts customers to the store, even when they don’t need to stock up on the basics.
“Regulars come in weekly and do a quick lap to see what’s new.”
And the limited-edition status of many artisan-created items helps to spur sales.
“If they see something they love, they know they need to get it then because the pattern might not be available again.”
Suga fuels that fear of missing out by updating displays to show off recent arrivals and by featuring them on Shop Dog’s Instagram account, which has 5,000-plus followers.
“People want to be in the loop. I can post photos of new collars, and within 36 hours half will be sold.”
Welcoming to All
While some business owners may cringe when they see young children walk through the door, Suga and her staff cater to them almost as much as they do the dogs in tow.
“I pride myself on our store being super kid-friendly. If a mom wants to look around, we make sure the kids have fun, too, so they aren’t begging to leave,” she explains.
Employees encourage little ones to hold open bakery bags and pick out birthday presents for family pups. Free stickers and facetime with Suga’s Labradoodle Etta also score major points.
“I love having kids in the shop. And customers see that we’re nice to their kids and want to bring them back.”
The shopping center in which Shop Dog sits boasts deep patios, allowing for socializing both inside the store and out front. Breed meetups and rescue events are among the organized events, but customers can also hang out at one of the exterior tables or on a bench. They often grab a treat for themselves at nearby Oh My Cupcakes! or Scooter’s Coffeehouse, and then pop inside the store for a bakery item or frozen Yoghund for their pups before taking a seat.
To make Shop Dog even more of a destination, Suga recently applied for and received a wine permit. The first event with adult beverages was a ladies night schedule for May, co-hosted by a local winery.
“We’re super excited!”
PHOTO GALLERY (13 IMAGES)