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How Lady Whistledown and Mother’s Day Help Pet Businesses Boost Revenue

Pop culture and holidays inspire photo sets that pet parents can’t resist posing their pups on, increasing both sales and social media awareness.

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CHECK ANY CUSTOMER’S phone. Odds are you’ll find dozens — if not hundreds — of cute pet pics. Why not tap into that enthusiasm? These businesses do exactly that by creating photo sets inspired by pop culture and holidays. The results: increased foot traffic, sales and social media awareness. Follow their direction to get the same.

My Natural Pet

My Natural Pet
BROOKLYN, NY

This store and grooming shop has a permanent photo wall, where customers can take pics of their pets. Owner Margo Tortorelis adds sets for various holidays. For each, she hosts a one-day event and promotes it on social media to build interest and anticipation.

Photos are free with purchase, and sets pay for themselves thanks to the boost in sales and the marketing from shared and tagged photos. About 30 dogs posed on this adorable St. Patrick’s Day set. “They love it, we love it — fun for all,” she says. “And it gives them a reason to come back next holiday.”

TIPS: Create a pup-friendly set. Tortorelis zip-tied together the wooden crates for stability. She adds, “Dogs sit or stand in a wagon behind the crates, so they can be seen clearly.”

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Fairytails Pet Spaw

Fairytails Pet Spaw
WINCHESTER, KY

At this salon, customers can add the Facebook Photo Package to their dog’s groom. It costs $10 and comes with a digital image, teeth brushing, designer neckwear and a gourmet treat. Pups pose on an amazing set created by owner Heather Carter, who also sells them to fellow business owners through her Tickled Pink Pet Designs. A recent set drew inspiration from Netflix series “Bridgerton,” imagining a tea hosted by character Lady Whistledown. Carter takes the photos herself and introduces new themes regularly, with the package bringing in an additional $200 to $400 per week.

“Our salon gets a lot of compliments on our photos, and the quality of our grooms is displayed,” she says. “Our facility does pet adoptions, too, and I have no doubt that our adoption program’s success is because of our photos.”

TIPS: Carter recommends investing in pieces that can be used in multiple sets and store displays. She adds, “Make sure backdrops are wrinkle free.”

Brown Dog Bakery

Brown Dog Bakery
ANKENY, IA

Sets need not be elaborate to bring in customers. Owner Anna Woodcock simply lays out a football field — made by adding white duct tape to “grass” carpet — and invites customers to pose their pups for the store’s annual Puppy Bowl Photo Contest.

TIPS: Let your customers pick winners via social media. Woodcock took that approach, and her contest post reached 8,000 people thanks to shares and likes. She says, “It helps to engage customers and get new people to see our page, and it’s just fun!”

Lucky Dog Pet Grocery & Bakery

Lucky Dog Pet Grocery & Bakery
LAWRENCE, KS

Co-owners Jennifer Thomas and Sarah Kathryn invite pet parents to take part in their store’s photo sessions. Among the themes are major holidays, plus pop culture like ’80s and “Game of Thrones.” More than 60 people and their pets posed on this Mother’s Day set. The price: $4.99 per digital pic, which featured text added using Pixlr. They have since upgraded to Canva Pro.

TIPS: “Lighting is key,” Thomas says. “We place two photography lights in front of the clients and one behind the backdrop. Placing a light behind the backdrop will make it more vibrant in the photo. Additionally, iPhones have a lighting option before you take the photo. Simply tap the screen and move your finger upward to brighten.”

Four Muddy Paws

Four Muddy Paws
ST. LOUIS, MO

Staff built this kissing booth for selfie days at both of the store’s locations, spending just $35 on hardware and craft supplies.

Owner Jeffrey Jensen says, “Customers love having something to do with their pets that’s quick, easy and just fun. Helping them make memories is also important. We had people come in specifically for the kissing booth, and they would then pick up a few things, so keeping the photos free was definitely a benefit for us. It cost us virtually nothing but floor space, and we created both goodwill and some extra sales from the events.”

TIPS: Jensen recommends building sets that can be transported, set up and broken down, and stored easily — for multiple locations and events.

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Fetch RI
RICHMOND, RI

Owner Johnna Devereaux and a group of handy volunteers helped build this Santa’s Workshop photo set. Hundreds of customers used it and tagged the store on social media. Set elements live on as a year-round display that changes with the holidays — red-and-white garland and heart-shaped decor transformed it into a Valentine’s Day backdrop.

TIPS: Devereaux says, “I’m not making money directly from the set, but it gets our name out — and more importantly, we are helping people make great memories with their pups. Do things out of the goodness of your heart and because you enjoy it. Customers and business will follow.”

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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