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Create Your Own Pet Box with Inspiration from These 8 Stores

Follow their lead to get a piece of the still-booming subscription box business.

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THE BOX ECONOMY continues to soar, with many pet businesses having launched their own subscription and/or a la carte offerings during the reduced foot traffic of 2020. These special deliveries — or pickups — have helped stores introduce new products to and curate for customers taking a break from in-person shopping. They also have created recurring revenue and even increased margins, the latter thanks to special pricing and free samples from brands. If you’ve been kicking around this idea for your business, get inspired by these examples and go for it!

Lucky Dog Outfitters & Pet Supply

Lucky Dog Outfitters & Pet Supply
LAWRENCE, KS

Co-owners Jennifer Thomas and Sarah Kathryn introduced Pet Parcel in August, and now have customers locally and as far away as Arizona. They use Packlane for design and boxes, and regularly reshop shipping for the lowest rates. The January box followed a New Year’s Eve theme, complete with a “Bye Felicia” cookie.

PRICE: $34.99 (pickup; free delivery, shipping)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 50
TIP: “We understand that every dog is unique,” Thomas says. Customers can share pet weight and allergy info, ask for treats or toys only, and even choose accessory colors. Also, those with deaf or blind dogs can get boxes customized for their different needs.

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Sweet Paws Bakery

Sweet Paws Bakery
GAINESVILLE, FL

Not only do buyers of Abby & Parker’s Treat Box get tasty items made by owner Colleen O’Fallon Toledo, they also get an activity card with suggestions on how to use the treats for enrichment, plus a coupon for a popular product. And for every photo tagged and shared on social media of the box, she includes a special prize with the next month’s goodies.

PRICE: $29.99 monthly, $149.94 six-month subscription (pickup; free shipping)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 40-55
TIP: It’s OK to start with a DIY box, Toledo says. “Start with plain boxes. Once you have enough subscribers, you can upgrade to those pretty printed boxes with your brand.”

Barkers Anonymous

Barkers Anonymous
HENDERSON, NC

When the pandemic hit, owner and trainer Comora Tolliver created enrichment kits that proved so popular she made them a monthly offering. “I like to put items together that stimulate the dog’s brain. Different textures, different sounds, different chews.” She offers three price points for pups, plus one for cats.

PRICE: $25.99-$69.99 (pickup; free delivery, $10 shipping)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 40, plus special puppy and birthday boxes
TIP: Consider partnering with breeders you respect. “We get a lot of support from breeders who want to send puppies home with products to help pet parents be successful from the beginning,” Tolliver says.

Dog Krazy

Dog Krazy
FREDERICKSBURG, VA

The popular Krazy Krates overflow with items while also turning owner Nancy Guinn a pretty profit. She gets great deals by buying in bulk and often gets products for free from manufacturers and distributors thanks to the buying power of her six stores.

PRICE: $50 (free delivery, shipping fee applies)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 50 to 125, depending on how many she makes available
TIP: Look at what isn’t selling in your store. “I often put in items that we have a lot of that aren’t moving as quickly as I’d like,” Guinn says. “It’s a great way to get rid of non-sellers.”

Bark On Mulford

Bark on Mulford
ROCKFORD, IL

The BOMBOX (Bark On Mulford Box) has become quite popular since its introduction in October. Owner Kaye Busse-Kleber says, “I’ve even had a few customers tell me they’ve quit their BarkBox subscriptions to buy local from us!” Small Dog and Big Dog boxes introduce new products. “One of my selling points is that they do not include items I already carry in my shop, giving buyers a first look at new merchandise.”

PRICE: $29 Small Dog, $39 Big Dog (pickup; shipping fee applies)
BOXES SOLD EVERY OTHER MONTH: 50
TIP: Promote your raves! Busse-Kleber created a social media graphic that combines photos of the boxes with quotes from happy customers.

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All Pets Considered

All Pets Considered
GREENSBORO, NC

Each month, owner Alison Schwartz donates a portion of the purchase price from her Bonefactor Box and Generoskitty Box to a charity partner. She doesn’t always use boxes, though — the holiday Santa’s Treatings Bag for dogs contained a Honey I’m Home Advent Calendar plus a variety of treats and a toy.

PRICE: $29.99 monthly, $34.99 a la carte (free delivery)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 45
TIP: Offer sponsorship, Schwartz recommends. Natural Balance has been one such sponsor for her. “This helps tremendously with planning and gives me a break. Manufacturer reps are responsible for planning and sending all of the product for the box for free.”

Animal Connection

Animal Connection
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

Owner Pattie Zeller says she sniffs out the coolest products for her Dog Scout Goody Box, which launched in October and have followed a holiday theme each month: Boo Box, Goblin’ Goodies, Seasons Treatings, Football Game Snak Pak and Smooch Your Pooch.

PRICE: $29.99 (shipping fee applies)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 25-75
TIP: Zeller says, “Sometimes your creativity can be inspired by supplier or manufacturer specials, even as far as three to four months ahead of the box launch.” And adds, “Send pictures of the boxes to your reps so they know how their products are being presented. They love seeing how creative their product looks in the boxes!”

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Barkville Bakery

Barkville Bakery
PECULIAR, MO

This dog bakery has been shipping treat boxes to out-of-town customers monthly since 2018. Owner Kayla Swatzell also offers add-ons for special occasions. For example, last year’s Easter box included “a bag of our Tail Mix, a Mixed Gourmet Box, two bags of special flavors I made that month, a bully stick, and two Iced cookies that were Easter themed. The addon had a basket of 12 eggs that were filled with treats, a dog beer from Beer Paws, three more iced cookies, and a bow from local Cheeky Chic Bows.

PRICE: $40 one-time, $36 six-month subscription, $30 12-month subscription (add-ons extra, free shipping)
BOXES SOLD EACH MONTH: 12
TIP: Swatzell says, “Sit down and figure out your pricing first and make sure they are getting a “deal,” but not so much of one that you are losing money. Unfortunately, my first year, I lost a lot of money. I was trying to compete with the prices of the “big guys,” and it wasn’t a good idea. Sell your box on your value add. Just like we do every day in our store. For example, my promise to my customers is that you get a month’s worth of treats for 1 dog for $30 delivered to your door if you sign up for a year. I also offer other “packages” throughout the year — in September/October, I’ll run a three-month special price where they get the “three best boxes” (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Then I usually have those same people sign up for a whole year in January.”

Pamela Mitchell is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Ty the Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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