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Check Out These 11 Cool Pet-Business Checkout Counters

Make ringing up a sale a memorable experience.

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THE BEST CHECKOUT COUNTERS make a statement, but such statements can vary in size. One can be big and bold in a store with ample square footage, while another can be small and subtle in a limited spaced. This collection of counters includes both.

Dee-O-Gee

BOZEMAN & BILLINGS, MT
The checkout counters at these stores feature a stainless steel top and oversized portraits of dogs at area parks. Josh Allen keeps counter space clear for the most part. “Our goal is for clients to feel welcome — for them to be able to pile bags of food along with retail merchandise and not feel like they are taking up a bunch of space or that their products are falling all over the place. We want them to have as much space as they need.”

$4,000

TIP: Less is more. “Business cards and then one to two small items at each POS. We rotate these items often to keep it fresh for regulars.”

Dog Krazy

RICHMOND, VA
Nancy and Chris Guinn took the DIY route when building out their fourth location. Chris created this checkout counter from displays left behind by the previous tenant, a men’s clothing store. He added black paint and a tile top, plus drawers and shelves inside, and a bakery case on one end. Chris also designed and laid tile in front with the store’s logo.

$600

TIP: Use the counter only for checking out customers. Nancy says, “We spend most our time on the sales floor and not behind the desk to give all of our customers that one-on-one experience!”

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Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe

SAN DIEGO, CA
Store color mint green covers this checkout counter that Leel Michelle built to fit her space. With the adjacent bakery case and dog-level sign, it makes the perfect backdrop for photos. A minimal mix of last-minute items and decor, such as an old-fashioned pink scale, are strategically placed on top.

$600

TIP: “Ladies, learn how to use electric and hand tools! Those skills come in handy being a small-business entrepreneur!”

Godfrey’s – Welcome to Dogdom

MOHNTON, PA
Barb Emmett hired a cabinetmaker to create her checkout counter, plus a back counter with display area. The latter helps set the tone for her store. “I truly love the arts, so I want to include items unique to us or our area, and made by local juried craftspeople. We are about the celebration of people and their dogs, finding products that are carefully curated and are of high quality, carrying through to the high level of services provided.”

$3,000

TIP: Offer free treats to people, too. Emmett keeps a dish filled with snack-size candies on the counter.

Odyssey Pets

DALLAS, TX
This circular counter features dual designs and has multiple purposes. Striking stainless steel wraps around the front, where customers check out. Wooden slatwall covers the back enclosure, where small daycare dogs nap and play. Shape and location forces shoppers into a racetrack pattern when walking the store, Sherry Redwine points out. “My staff can see almost every area from the register, which helps with customer service and deters theft.”

$10,000

TIP: Tempt with treats. “People will buy a last-minute bully stick at the register just because it’s there.”

Bubbly Paws

ST. LOUIS PARK, MN
Keith and Patrycia Miller had their architect design this wooden checkout counter. It had to fit into the pet wash and grooming salon’s overall design, but also Keith says, “We wanted something sturdy that could handle a large dog being clipped to it and not pull it over.”

$2,500

TIP: Consider carabiners. “We try to make it as easy as possible for customers to go hands-free while making sure the dog is still leashed.”

Loyal Biscuit Co.

ROCKLAND, ME
This checkout counter painted in store color lime green does double duty. “Our logo also makes a great backdrop for photos,” Heidi Neal points out. Customers can even put their dog in a sit and back up to shoot, thanks to a boat cleat that holds leashes tight. Joel Neal created the counter using lumber, sheetrock and laminate.

$600

TIP: Be strategic in what you place on top, both in terms of appeal and aesthetic. Heidi says, “I didn’t do a great job at concealing computer wires, so I try to pick tall things to hide those.”

Furry Friends Inc.

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
Debbie Brookham inherited her checkout counter from the previous tenant, but she made it her own with a coat of pink paint and a surprise for canine customers. “I decided to put mirrors on it because I know how dogs love to look at themselves. This has totally worked, and we love the cuteness factor it brings out in our furry friends.”

$0

TIP: “Change your counter up all the time. People like to look at interesting items while checking out, and you just might make some extra money.”

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Youngblood’s Natural Animal Care Center & Massage

GREENFIELD, IN
To suit her store’s country-chic aesthetic, Samantha Youngblood created a counter base from scrap wood and repurposed barn metal. Wood from her family’s tree farm became the top. Two tiers — “one for the customer to set the products on and another for ringing up and bagging” — help keep checkout orderly and efficient. The bottom level doubles as a gift-wrapping surface, complete with a hanging roll of craft paper.

$20

TIP: Clamp mason jars to the counter’s side to keep scissors and pens handy without taking up surface space.

Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bow-Tique

BRADLEY, IL
Jodi Etienne knew exactly what she wanted in a checkout counter, so she asked her husband, Steve, to build it. He combined repurposed kitchen cabinets with custom sections to create the base, then covered it with tongue-and-groove siding, which Jodi painted white. They poured and sealed concrete for the top. A gate contains “assistant managers in training.”

$1,000

TIP: Brave DIY to save money on labor. Jodi says of her husband, “He is not a professional, but he is a perfectionist. He learned from YouTube videos.”

Animal Connection

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA
When Pattie Boden saw an antique oyster-shucking table in a small country store on Virginia’s coast, she knew it would be her checkout counter. “It was a little beat up, but I liked it that way. I just cleaned the legs and did some butcher’s wax on the top boards.”

$300

TIP: Personalize your checkout. “We surround our area with pictures of our own dogs, cats and horses, and create a family gallery.”

Urban Dog Barkery

HOUSTON, TX
Teresa Bues creates an impulse-buy zone around her checkout counter. “We stash treats and perhaps some human items along with decorated treats. Behind the counter, we put items we feel are things we want people to see when they are standing there. It has helped with sales.” The counter came together from a work table she found on the property and leftover “stainless” material from another project.

$0

TIP: Point out that hooks for leashes also work for purses, so customers don’t have to put their bags on the counter or floor.

Pamela Mitchell is the senior editor at PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Spot the senior Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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Digital Marketing Is Great, but It Can’t Solve All Your Problems

You’ve probably been hearing experts talk about digital marketing as if it would be a panacea for pet-business owners, says marketing specialist Jim Ackerman. But for most owners, it hasn’t worked out that way. In this video, Ackerman explains why digital advertising should be just one arrow in your marketing quiver.

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Done Right, DIY Baths Produce Bonus Revenue

Done right, do-it-yourself bathing produces a bonus revenue stream.

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DOGS MAKE A MESS during bath time. These pet businesses welcome it, provide direction and supplies, and even clean up after. Check out their DIY bathing setups, all of which are profitable and produce the cutest photo opportunities.

Firehouse Pet Shop

WENATCHEE, WA

Allen and Jennifer Larsen assign an employee to their firehouse-themed, three-tub DIY bathing area. This staffer walks newbies through the process, gets them started and checks back mid-bath, as well as cleans up after and does laundry. An instructional video also plays on a loop, and a chalkboard sign displays the menu and tips.

Self-baths cost $12 to $20 per pet, depending on weight, with nail trims an additional $7. Income ranges from $4,500 to $6,800 monthly. K9 officers bathe for free.

TOTAL COST: $7,200 | TUB SOURCE: New Breed Dog Baths

TIP: “Offer a frequent bathing card, free baths to first-timers or new adoptions,” Jennifer says. “It gets them in, and then they are hooked. Giving away a bath here and there reaps huge rewards — almost everyone says they will never wash at home again.”

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Just Fur Pets

SPRINGFIELD, VA

Marcia Cram inherited a three-tub bathing area when she opened her store 15 years ago, and has since upgraded decor and equipment. Groomers and customers alike use it, with the latter paying $22. Income totals $1,230 monthly.

REPLACEMENT TUB COST: $1,800 | TUB SOURCE: Groomer’s Best

TIP: “Don’t go cheap on the gauge of the tub. No one wants the tub bottom to flex and make noise under a dog’s feet.”

Animal Connection

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

Pattie Boden designed and had her DIY bathing suite custom built. It matches her store’s country vibe and caters to large-breed and senior dogs.

“We included a wide stair step in between the tubs to make it easier for them to enter.”

Self-wash costs $15 to $25, depending on weight, and brings in $2,500 monthly. Her favorite bathing story involves the girls who planned a birthday party around washing their Great Pyrenees.

“That was so cute! Those girls had a great time.”

TOTAL COST: $10,000 | TUB SOURCE: Custom build

TIP: “You’ll need more towels than you ever expected. When you tell people to leave the mess, they take that as gospel truth!”

Bath & Biscuits

GRANVILLE, OH

DIY bathing was part of Danielle Wilson’s original concept for her business. It has proven a success, pulling in $6,000 monthly. She kept costs low with a rustic theme and by building the tubs themselves.

“I designed the tubs, and my husband built them. They are horse troughs with Trex decking for where the dog stands, so they’re never standing in water.”

Dog owners mainly use the tubs, but 4-H Club students have brought in goats, pigs and even a miniature horse during fair season. Wilson lets them self-wash for free and charges regular clients $20. Nail trims are included.

TOTAL COST: $500 | TUB SOURCE: Local feed and hardware store

TIP: “Think outside the box. Who says you have to use those expensive pet tubs?”

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Belly Rubs N Suds

ASHBURN, VA

Teresa Hogge created a spa-like atmosphere for her DIY bathing clients, who get a first-time tutorial that covers proper care of their dog’s coat type. She charges $15 for bath only and $25 with nail trim, adding up to $2,500 in income monthly.

“Plus, I find my self-wash clients are very inclined to make purchases from our bulk cookie bar, chewy bar or decorated cookie case.”

Hogge also recently introduced a monthly Suds Club Unlimited Self-Wash Membership for $29.99. Service and working dogs bathe for free.

TOTAL COST: $6,000 | TUB SOURCE: New Breed Dog Baths

TIP: “Treating self-wash as its own income stream, and planning, advertising and caring for it as such is the key to success. You can’t just add a self-wash and hope it makes you money.”

Bubbly Paws

TWIN CITIES, MN

Self-service baths make up 50 percent of income at these stylish dog wash stores. Keith Miller offers this advice to those adding a DIY station: “It’s more than just putting in plumbing and tubs. Ventilation is a huge issue. You need to make sure the air is always fresh. It can get stinky fast. Plan for water. Anything in the store will get wet. Seriously, nothing is safe. Make sure you have anti-slip flooring. I highly suggest a hair trap to keep all that hair out of the plumbing system. This small box, which is super gross to clean, can save thousands in plumbing expenses down the line.”

Self-wash runs $14 to $27, depending on weight.

“Every time a Newfie comes in, I cringe. They are sooooo hairy, and we are pretty sure not to make any money on them. Ha!”

PER-TUB COST: $4,000 | TUB SOURCE: New Breed Dog Baths

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13 Unique Business Cards to Inspire You

Old-school but effective, business cards remain a quick, cheap, easy way to market your business.

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HOW LONG DOES IT take to hand someone your business card? One second. Maybe a smidge longer if you must dig the card out of your bag or wallet. A business card remains the fastest way to share information in person. The best cards also boost brand awareness, list social media channels, and/or provide an incentive to make a purchase or use a service. These six stand out from the stack.

Homeward Bound Animal Care

GILFORD, NH

Alix Marcoux DiLorenzo touts her company’s more than 15,000 walks to date on the front of its business card. On the back, she features animals in her care — a selection of 15 adorable dogs and cats. “It’s fun to let people pick out their favorite. With so many different photos, they’re likely to find a pet they relate to in the bunch, which helps break the ice with a potential client.”

Price: 24 cents each, plus design services

Source: moo.com

Tip: Don’t settle. “I didn’t love the first design presented to me, and I let the designer know I wasn’t blown away. We worked together to come up with something that represented the Homeward Bound brand.”

Youngblood’s Natural Animal Care Center & Massage

GREENFIELD, IN

The design aesthetic of their business extends to its card. “We own an all-natural animal care center, and we love flowers and soft colors … this card reminded us of purity, nature, organic and a feeling of peace,” Samantha Youngblood says.

Price: 4 cents each

Source: vistaprint.com

Tip: “Find a design that fits your vibe, and don’t be afraid to go through few designs before you find the ‘one’ you love!”

Wishbone Pet Care

MISSOURI CITY, TX

Store color orange catches the eye of potential customers, and Tammi Bui keeps their atttention by listing multiple deals. She even tells them how to get more via text message.

Price: 4 cents each

Source: vistaprint.com

Tip: Formerly employed as a graphic designer, she shares: “People will keep a color business card longer” than a white one.

Loyal Biscuit Co.

FIVE STORES IN MAINE

This store has five locations, and many customers shop at more than one. With that in mind, Heidi Neal noted which offer self-service bathing on the front of its business card and put addresses for all on the back. “I’m also in love with our logo and wanted to make sure that was prominent.”

Price: 7 cents each

Source: vistaprint.com

Tip: Order in small quantities so as to not waste cards when updates are needed.

Flying M Feed Co.

HOUSTON, TX

Trace Menchaca upgraded from paper to wood for her personal business cards.

“As a recipient of thousands of cards, there are many that I’ve kept, but only one that really stood out: It was made of real wood. I put out traditional cards on our counter, but for distributors, vendors and business networking, I had to have these. I get tons of compliments and everyone keeps them.” From cards-ofwood.com, the material suits the store’s logo, a burned brand. She orders a variety of tree species.

Price: 35 cents each

Source: cardsofwood.com

Tip: Include “cardsofwood.com” on card to get a 5 percent discount.

Wag Central

STRATFORD, CT

A bone shape helps this card stand out, as does listing store pet Lady Lulu as Chief Tail Wagger.

Price: 40 cents each, plus initial design services

Source: ghpmedia.com

Tip: Be different. Owner Angela Pantalone says, “I definitely wanted a unique design and not something that everyone else has been using. I have yet to see another outfit with a bone-shaped card! Win!”

Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe

SAN DIEGO, CA

Leel Michelle carried her store’s trademark pink, green and Mumsie the Poodle through to its business card. The loyalty program and social media channels help fill the back.

Price: 15 cents each, plus initial design services

Source: gotprint.com

Tip: “Make your corners rounded so they don’t get damaged as easily while in wallets, purses and such.”

Dogaholics

CHICAGO, IL

This business card doubles as a lead generator. Potential clients can visit adogaholicsguide.com, provide their email address and get a free downloadable pet-parenting guide. Employees can then follow up. Candace D’Agnolo uses photos of clients on the cards.

Price: 7 cents each

Source: 48hourprint.com

Tip: “It’s nice to say, ‘Take my card and download our free pet parenting guide.’”

Birds Unlimited

WEBSTER, NY

After a cluttered business card that included way too much information, Paul Lewis decided that a just-the-basics approach worked best for his store. He has two versions, one with a grooming appointment reminder for those customers and another without for business associates and fellow trade show attendees.

Price: 5 cents each

Source: Local printer

Tip: Work with a local printer whenever possible.

Camp Dogwood

LAKE DELTON, WI

A photo of her husband, Al Edelman, and dog, Stella Blue, captures the essence of Alysa Slay’s camp for people and pets, and takes up the front of this business card. The back contains includes info.

Price: 40 cents each, plus initial design services

Source: vistaprint.com

Tip: “Don’t cheap out. Get the good paper stock and finish, make it visually appealing.

Scout & Zoe’s

ANDERSON, IN

“My inspiration for this business card was the best photo of the three of us we have ever taken,” Cindy Dunston Quirk says. “When I look at it now, especially since Zoe crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2014, I see and feel the love I have for both of them and the unconditional love they have for me.” The photo also embodies what her treat company stands for, she adds.

Price: 53 cents each, plus initial design services

Source: moo.com

Tip: “Opt for something a bit different, whether that is in the design, stock that is used or the shape of the card. I definitely wouldn’t go smaller than a standard size card since those can be lost or misplaced very easily.”

 

Busch Pet Products

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO

Buschie, the store mascot, appears with his kitty sidekick on all marketing materials, including this business card.

Price: 5 cents each, plus initial design services

Source: vistaprint.com

Tip: “Whatever you decide to do with your design, my best suggestion is to make it memorable, so customers will always know what your passion is.

Lucky Dogs

SKANEATELES, NY

Clean and not cluttered was the design goal for this card, DIY designed by Amy Schiek. For example, instead of listing social media URLs, she simply uses their logs and trusts that customers can find her easily through search.

Price: 5 cents each

Source: vistaprint.com

Tip: “Don’t forget to print on the back of the card! The front of our card lists the traditional ways to get ahold of us: phone number, email, and website. I used the back of the cards to call out our social media tags. Whenever we talk to customers about posting their pet photos on social media and tagging us, we give them one of our business cards to help them remember.”

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Make Your Pet Business Irresistible on the Road with an Awesome Booth

Take inspiration from these examples.

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FESTIVAL SEASON WILL be here before you know it. Or perhaps outdoor events happen year-round in your area. Either way, put together a booth for your pet business that pulls passersby from the crowd. These businesses show how an event booth can expand your presence in the community, attract new customers and ring up sales.

Bark On Mulford

ROCKFORD, IL

With her store just over a year old, Kaye Busse-Kleber uses a variety of events to attract new customers. She fills a table with items that offer immediate gratification, such as tasty treats and colorful bandanas.

“People purchased and put them on the dogs right then,” Busse-Kleber says of the accessories. “It added to the festivities.”

Tip: Merchandise during prep. “I organize stuff in assorted baskets/containers while packing at my store,” Busse-Kleber shares. “That way, it’s minimal setup/teardown at the event.”

Wishbone Pet Care

MISSOURI CITY, TX

Tammi Bui sets up a booth each year at the Fort Bend Pet Expo, among other pet-centric events, offering those who adopt a dog that day a free nail trim or bath coupon. Some of the pups become grooming clients for life. Other giveaways include shampoo samples, dog tags and branded poop bags, and she offers food and treats for sale.

Price of Custom Table Runner: $70 | Source: Vistaprint

Tip: “Bring one of your most outgoing staff with you, someone not shy, to talk to people walking by your booth.”

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Pawz On Main

COTTONWOOD, AZ

Her store may be in a tourist area, but Denise Strong attends festivals to meet more locals.
“They keep our doors open with their repeat business. We hand out gift bags with free samples of dog foods and treats.”
Strong recreates her store outside, down to the sign with leopard-print border. At a recent event, dogs could get their nails painted for a donation to local rescues.

Tip: “Purchase quality tent, tables, tablecloths and signage. Your booth is a full representation of your storefront. Perception is reality!”

Dog Krazy

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, VA

Let’s face it: Smooch the Pooch serves as the main draw at Dog Krazy’s booth. How could anyone resist a kiss from Pork Wonton. He — along with other store pets — joins Nancy and Chris Guinn at a variety of events.
“We try to do as many as possible because pet lovers are everywhere,” she says.
Their most successful 2018 setup was at Virginia PrideFest. Attendees who followed Dog Krazy on social media were invited to spin a wheel to win a prize, among them a pooch smooch from Porkie (below left) or Clovis (below right). The store gained 500 followers that day. Event-specific selfie frames were also a hit.

Price of Canopy: $700 | Source: ABC Canopy

Tip: Stand out. “Bright yellow was the perfect choice, as most people pick white or a darker color,” Nancy explains. “You cannot miss the Dog Krazy booth!”

All Pet Supplies & Equine Center

SPRINGFIELD, MO

Visitors to this store’s booth can shop the Raw Bar, buy a toy and even play Dip Your Dog a Bone, which encourages kids to dip and decorate a treat. Jan Guin sets up at three pet-centric events each year to meet potential new customers.

Tip: Sell instead of sample. “We love handing out samples of dog food, but people take more than their share, so that’s frustrating to monitor,” she says. “We decided we might as well sell something, and who doesn’t like buying their dog a treat?”

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Bubbles & Beyond Pet Salon

TOPTON, PA

Kelly Reed has three goals with each event her grooming salon sets up at: “Give back to clients, make personal connections with prospective clients, and inform the community about grooming and their pet’s well-being.”
Products for sale, giveaways and grooming literature are available, and event-goers can snap a pic with the salon mascot in the Bubbles & Beyond photo booth, “with the hope that it will be shared on social media,” she says.

Tip: “Do your research and target the events you think will generate the new business you’re seeking.”

Pupology

GEORGETOWN, TX

Janet Cesarini doesn’t set up a booth for her business at area events. The booth IS her business. She does not have a brick-and-mortar location, but instead sets up at events and dog-friendly locations every weekend from March through December.

“Events are my main income producer, so my goal is sales,” Cesarini says. “I also collect emails for marketing and promote my social media channels to increase followers.”

Her tent proves versatile as it has sides that can open and close like a shower curtain. She uses shelving, tables and fixtures from IKEA, Hobby Lobby and even Goodwill, and pop-up slatwall offers further display options.

Price of Tent: $300 | Source: Sam’s Club

Tip: “Look at Pinterest for ideas, make a planogram and practice setting up your booth before the day of your event. There’s a big difference between your planogram and real life.”

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Yarn & Bone Pet Supply Co.

CAMDEN, DE

Matthew Moorefield and Michael Morris set up at regular and pet-centric festivals alike to boost awareness of their store. Their most successful event in 2018 was The Bug and Bud Festival.

“We had a lot of customers return to both our Camden and Rehoboth Beach stores with coupons,” Moorefield says.

Tip: “Don’t overthink the booth. Try to capture your store in 10 by 10 area.”

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