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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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PETS+ Live with Candace D'Agnolo

Learn More About America's Coolest Store Winner, Bar K

Catch the replay of this PETS+ Live! Lunch & Learn webinar hosted by Candace D’Agnolo of Pet Boss Nation. This episode featured Candace on location at Bar K in Kansas City, MO. Find out how owners Leib Dodell and David Hensley implemented their idea for a dog park/restaurant/bar that owners enjoy as much as their pets do — and learn why the business took top honors in the 2019 PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores contest.

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6 Pet Hotels That Will Make You Kind of Wish You Were a Dog

This is high-end boarding for dogs!

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AT FIRST GLANCE, you might think some of these accommodations are for people. But look closely — at the size of furniture at Chateau Poochie, the water bowl at Yuppy Puppy and the video-chat camera at Bark Life Market. This is high-end boarding for dogs! Also, the pups in other pics give it away.

Wagging Tails
WOLCOTT & WEST HARTFORD, CT

Wagging Tails Pet Resort & Spaw has staffed cage-free boarding with toddler furniture as lounging and bedding options. Among the playful offerings are a pirate’s ship, racecar and train.
Krista Lofquist buys Little Tikes and Step2 beds new, but also finds them gently used on Facebook Marketplace.

NIGHTLY RATES: $50 (includes daycare)

Yuppy Puppy
O’FALLON, MO

Each of the Plaza Suites at Yuppy Puppy pet spa and resort features a tempered-glass door, garden-view window and outdoor fenced-in area for suite guests only, plus raised bed, couch and included amenities such as bacon-and-egg brekkies in bed.

Jessica Cooke expanded boarding options to include suites when moving to her current location. “I was quite nervous that I would end up upgrading dogs for free to utilize the space. But the suites are full every day, and I have clients booked in them into 2020. We are opening a second location, and the rooms will primarily be these.”

NIGHTLY RATES: $55

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Barker’s Lane
DAVIE, FL

Grooming clients can also board at this salon, in one of four stylishly appointed rooms worthy of an Instagram-famous pup.
Julianna Reese offers this advice for those inspired to use similar decor. “You have to know the dogs to determine what can be left in the room. We do put down pee pee pads at night, but the rugs and bedding are washable and bought at places like Ross, Home Goods, Tuesday Morning.”

NIGHTLY RATES: $45 and higher

Bark Life Market
SEMINOLE, FL

The all-inclusive Penthouse at Bark Life Market’s newest resort measures 10 by 13 feet and includes sliding patio door, resort decor and music, a queen-size bed and flat screen with DogTV, as well as private web cameras and a Petchatz video chat and treat dispenser. Also included, egg and cheese omelet for breakfast, salmon or beef fillet for dinner, and tuck-in treat at bedtime.

NIGHTLY RATES: $99

Chateau Poochie
POMPANO BEACH, FL

This doggie day care, spa and pet hotel has multiple levels of accommodations, including its most luxurious: The Tea Suite. Measuring 14 by 14 feet, it has seating and sleeping options throughout, a crystal chandelier, flat-screen TV and webcam, plus additional included amenities.

NIGHTLY RATES: $250, and pet parents can pay an additional fee to have a staff member spend the night in the suite.

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Wag Central
STRATFORD, CT

At Wag Central, staffed slumber parties are one of the higher-end boarding options. Pre-screened day-care regulars can stay together in a room that has four custom-made bunkhouses. Angela Pantalone says they cost about $800 each, including beds.

“It’s a great upsell for pups who are anxious or first-time boarders. The human-interaction aspect is a big draw for owners who are concerned about their pup as they travel, too.” She adds, “We are able to multitask the use of this room for dog families who insist on keeping their pups together when we are not opening it to sleepovers. It’s a nice puppy nursery, too, for daycare. Overall, it’s been a hit!”

NIGHTLY RATES: $68 (includes daycare)

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Tout Your Own Brand with Custom Merchandise, Branded Freebies

Swag those tails!

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE SWAG? Offer up a free button or ball or other small promotional item, and your customer will say, “Yes, please” and “Thank you.” Some even love your business so much they’ll pay to wear or use its branded products. Now that’s success — revenue and “free” advertising. These six businesses have achieved exactly that.

Fetch RI
RICHMOND, RI

Humans and dogs alike can show their love for this store — in a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and bandanas. Johnna Devereaux offers this advice, “People love buying our shirts and sweatshirts because they are super-comfortable. Work with your local embroidery shop and have them order samples so you can decide which materials feel the best, and carry only those!” As to pricing, she says, “Because we are getting free advertising when people wear our branded items, we only charge a 25 percent markup.”

T-SHIRT COST: $13, SWEATSHIRT COST: $35, HAT COST: $12, BANDANA COST: $4.50, DOG T-SHIRT COST: $8 | SOURCE: Local embroidery and screen-printing shop

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Crossbones Dog Academy
PROVIDENCE, RI

New training clients get their very own clicker to use, not only during class but when out and about practicing new skills. When hung from a wrist coil, they serve as walking advertisement for the business. Katherine Ostiguy says, “Branded clickers are worth the investment if your store offers positive dog training services.” She also sells them for $3.29.

COST: $1.15 | SOURCE: The Doggone Good Clicker Company

Cats Exclusive Veterinary Center
SHORELINE, WA

In their welcome packet, new patients get a three-step can lid with the clinic logo on it, and they also are available for $1.39 at the on-site store. Manager Amanda Bass says, “Carrying can lids when you sell dog and cat food is a must! Merchandise them near the canned foods as well as by the checkout stand.”

COST: $.049 | SOURCE: Pawprint Promotions

Animal Connection
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

Branded merchandise at this store features its tag line, “Bark Local.” Patricia Boden sells T-shirts, toys and magnets, but also gives them away — along with “Bark Local” and “Purr Local” buttons — at certain events and to valued customers. She even rewards those who wear the gear: “If I see someone wearing a pin or shirt, or a car with a magnet, they get a prize on the spot!”

SHIRT COST: $14 SALES PRICE: $20 SOURCE: VistaPrint | TOY COST: $9.50 SALES PRICE: $16.99 SOURCE: Hugglehounds | MAGNET COST: $1.50 SALES PRICE: $3 BUTTON COST: $0.44 SALES PRICE: $0 SOURCE: Sticker Mule

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Wishbone Pet Care
MISSOURI CITY, TX

Tammi Bui worked with an Etsy artist to create a custom, hand-painted dog collar with brand colors and logo. She sells them for $22.99, but also gives them as gifts to her most loyal customers.

COST: $11 | SOURCE: etsy.com/shop/merryjaneandthor

Yuppy Puppy
O’FALLON, MO

Jessica Cooke says, “I smack my logo on anything I can!” Some items she gives away, such as bandanas to new grooming clients, but uses others as incentives. Customers who book a 30-day play-camp package for $515 get a free towel they can use on Splash Days, and those who buy a filled treat jar for $6 can refill it for $3. “We also use these in our donation gift baskets, with a note telling them to keep the jar and come see us for a refill!”

TOWEL COST: $11, TREAT JAR COST: $2.50 | SOURCE: AnimalsINK

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8 Standout Sign Designs for the Ultimate First Impression

Because first impressions are everything.

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GREAT SIGNS DRAW in passersby. They do so by piquing interest and making clear the nature of a business. But as any owner will tell you, doing that according to property and other guidelines can prove challenging. These pet businesses share how they worked — some quite creatively — within the system.

Riverfront Pets
Wilmington, DE

Laura and Clinton Gangloff got permission from their landlord to try a different approach with signage. Instead of white lettering with red accents on the facade, like other businesses in the building, they hung a perpendicular sign with the Riverfront Pets logo, complete with red fire hydrant. “We still have the printed name on our awning so you can see who we are from across the road, but I think we reach more consumers with the placement we have now,” Laura says.

COST: $4,000 | TIP: Add stickers to your storefront outlining services and supplies. “We have found that is pretty helpful also.”

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Dog Krazy
LEESBURG, VA

Fun fact about the original Dog Krazy logo, shown here on the Leesburg location: It’s the font from ’90s animated series Ren & Stimpy. Nancy and Chris Guinn hung signs on the facade as well as perpendicular to the store to catch potential customers from all directions.

COST: $6,000 | TIP: Nancy says, “Make sure it stands out. A good sign is worth every penny. Think about what makes you want to go inside a business. If the sign is cheaply made and doesn’t catch your eye, your store may go unnoticed. Bold, bright and fun is what I always look for.”

The Pet Barber
HOUSTON, TX

With its logo and sign, owners Paul Willis and Kristen Cover let potential customers know they specialize in hand-scissoring. Cover says they proposed black lettering with uplighting, but that the landlord ultimately required an illuminated sign.

COST: $6,000 | TIP: Cover says to “negotiate the signage before you sign the lease, especially if you have something very specific in mind.”

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Wags To Whiskers
PLAINFIELD, IL

When Janelle Pitula moved her business late last year, its sign came with her. Initially, there was pushback. “There were some challenges with the village as they said it was a bit too big, but they conceded and gave us a variance since we’ve been in town for 14 years.”

COST: $5,000 | TIP: Make sure your sign is clear, readable, stands out from other tenants and represents your business. “If you can do your logo, great. If not, just be clear.”

The Modern Paws
TAMPA, FL

This store’s logo features a paw print within a dotted circle, with that alone serving as its icon. On their storefront, Ben and Lisa Prakobkit used it both as a decal on the door and above with “The Modern Paws” on an awning. Of guidelines, Ben says, “The property association did require any awnings to be made out of certain materials and fabrics, so we made sure to adhere to those requirements.”

COST: $5,000 for decals, awning and lighting | TIP: “Your signage is what any customer, or even potential customer, sees first. Make it clear and bold. You want to make the best first impression before a customer even steps in your doors. The signage draws customers in, customer service keeps them coming back.”

Southern Barker
LEXINGTON, KY

Lily, the Stewart family dog, stars in this store’s logo and sign. Leslie Stewart says that property guidelines dictated “that the sign itself be lighted, but because of our font, it was difficult to manufacture. We opted for a flat acrylic sign with gooseneck lighting above.”

COST: $4,600 | TIP: “Make sure the design, colors and font can be seen well from a distance and that the view is unobstructed.”

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Fetch Ri
RICHMOND, RI

Before deciding where to place signs for her store and applying for permits, Johnna Devereaux walked the entire property to determine sightlines. “We wanted to ensure that no matter which angle you were looking at the building, you would always see the Fetch RI signage. We have four exterior signs and two interior.”

COST: $1,500 | TIP: “It can be argued that on-site signage is the No. 1 marketing tool you have. After all, you can have the greatest business cards or ads, but if someone doesn’t find your store visually appealing and inviting from the outside, they may never step foot inside to see what you have to offer. When it comes to signage, take your time and do it right. First impressions are everything.”

Lewis & Bark’s Outpost
RED LODGE, MT

In historic Red Lodge, MT, regulations do not allow for neon or blinking signs without city approval. Danielle Chandler decided to forgo the red tape and instead use vinyl lettering on a storefront display window. “We chose the window, color and large size for visibility,” she says.

COST: $300 | TIP: If your store sits in the shade all day like hers, Chandler recommends placing colorful, seasonal windsocks outside with shiny windmills in flower pots. “The movement catches a lot of eyes. The days we forget to put them out, our sales are noticeably lower.”

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