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Four-Leaf Clover

The Lucky Dogs logo may feature the traditional Irish symbol, but owner Amy Schiek did not achieve success by mere chance.

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Lucky Dogs, Skaneateles, NY

OWNER: Amy Schiek; URL:shopluckydogs.com; FOUNDED: 2008; EMPLOYEES: 3 full-time, 5 part-time; AREA: 1,200 square feet; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/shopluckydogs; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/shopluckydogs


HOW HAS AMY SCHIEK been able to grow and expand Lucky Dogs in Skaneateles, NY, since starting it as a pet sitting and dog walking service in 2008?

“There are many people whose life revolves around their pets. Pets are family members. They don’t live outside in dog houses like when I was a kid. They aren’t little playthings on the side,” she says. “So I think about what that means if their pets are their life. What kinds of services do they use? What kinds of products do they buy? How can Lucky Dogs touch their life on any given day?”

With that mindset along with a keen eye for opportunity, Amy has added mobile grooming and brick-and-mortar retail to her business, creating a lifestyle brand that sits at the center of her community like a four-leaf clover for pets.

Amy and Pat take a ride with three of their beloved Labradors.: from left, Saoirse, the late Kennedy and puppy Caoimhe.

Amy and Pat take a ride with three of their beloved Labradors.: from left, Saoirse, the late Kennedy and puppy Caoimhe.

The Bubble Bus

Amy left a nearly 20-year career in sales to found Lucky Dogs as a much-needed alternative to boarding in the small town where she lives with her husband, Pat, who has since joined the business after retiring from a 25-year career, also in sales.

Amy put her first grooming van, the adorably named and wrapped Bubble Bus, on the road in 2012 to provide another alternative, this time to the salon experience, for today’s pet parents who like to keep their dogs within their environment.

“Pets are most comfortable in their own homes, so we bring our services to the client: pet sitting in their homes and mobile dog grooming in the convenience of their driveways,” she says.

Full-time groomer Chelsea Heins remains fully booked with the 200-plus dogs she regularly sees across 150 households. With the continued uptick in pet ownership during the pandemic, specifically in breeds that need professional grooming, Amy has decided to expand again by taking advantage of a series of opportunities: The only grooming salon in Skaneateles closed, a mobile groomer put up her van for sale, and a groomer looking for work moved to town.

“It was a sign that we should go for it. So we’re adding a second grooming van and a second full-time groomer.”

Grooming makes up 26 percent of revenue for Lucky Dogs, and with five to six calls a day coming in from pet parents looking for appointments, Amy estimates she can easily and quickly double their number of clients.

Lucky Dogs Bubble Bus

Brick & Mortar

A 1,200-square-foot store joined pet sitting, dog walking and mobile grooming as the fourth “leaf” of Lucky Dogs in 2017. Again Amy saw an opportunity to create an alternative, this time to the only pet boutique in town and national chain stores 12 miles away.

She says, “I felt that our community of animal lovers needed more. An ideal space came open in our village, and that doesn’t happen very often, so I jumped on it and opened a pet lifestyle store.”

When creating the aesthetic, Amy kept in mind her existing service customers, those who treat their pets like family.

“The retail space had been a high-end baby boutique before we took it over, and it had the feel I wanted for the store. I purchased their custom white cabinetry, painted the walls the same cheerful shade of yellow as our logo, and chose a fun, graphic black-and-white wallpaper with dog breeds. Our store is intentionally not cluttered, with product merchandising spaced out and floor fixtures that allow ample walking space for humans and dogs alike.”

She considers both her “lifestyle” concept and differentiation when selecting what goes on those shelves, atop tables, and in her colorful and creative displays.

“We have products for pets, but also for people who have important pets in their lives. So we carry home goods like blankets, bowls and treat jars, and gifts for pet parents like pet-themed jewelry and clothing. We have a wall with all kinds of artwork.”

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Amy adds, “We intentionally carry items that shoppers cannot find at other stores in the area. I brought in Mimi Green, handmade collars and leashes that use fabrics from Rifle Paper Co., a pretty hot brand with twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. They recognize it right away and think we’re so cool.”

Locals appreciate the carefully curated selection of foods, treats and wellness products, plus toys and other gear. It also impresses the affluent tourists who flock to lakeside Skaneateles in summer and fall.

“They treat their pets well at home and want to treat them to something unique while they’re here. Those customers have access to what I would think are very nice boutiques where they live, but they’re telling us we have things they’ve never seen before, which is pretty awesome.”

That also doesn’t happen by chance. Amy says, “When I chat with people, I ask where they’re visiting from, then I’ll go online and do a search to see what’s there. I’ll get a feeling for what those shops are carrying and keep that in mind.”

Lucky-Dogs-Food

Lucky Dogs carries four brands of food, including Open Farm. Amy tries to carry products not sold elsewhere in town.

An Extended Family

Amy and Patrick each work at the store three to four days a week, with Amy overseeing product selection, inventory, merchandising and social media, and Pat heading up operations.

“It’s great to be able to work together in a business we are passionate about,” she says.

A mix of full-time and part-time employees fill various roles within, sharing the values of the pet lifestyle brand.

“What makes Lucky Dogs unique is the personal connection everyone on our team has with our customers. Whether it’s pet sitting, dog walking, grooming or the store, our customers get excited about doing business with us because they know they will be in great hands.

Lucky Dogs enhances the lives of our customers, animals and humans alike.”

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Five Cool Things About Lucky Dogs

1. WINDOW TREATMENTS: Amy says, “Designing our display window is a fun challenge for me! I change it each month, using a variety of materials and themes. For Valentine’s Day, I chose the restaurant scene from Lady and the Tramp. I couldn’t find a decent spaghetti and meatballs prop, so I used ivory yarn for the spaghetti, wound brown yarn into balls for the meatballs, and cut red wrapping paper for sauce. It is such a compliment when I see people stop in front of our window and smile, laugh and take a photo.”

2. SPECIAL DELIVERIES: The 100-plus households that use Lucky Dogs dog walking and/or pet sitting services can ask for the team member to bring along product orders as well. Those services make up 12 percent of revenue and help feed the 62 percent revenue brought in through the store. Amy and Pat make all other deliveries, further strengthening their relationship with customers.

3. SOCIAL LIVES: When the pandemic shut down New York, Amy started a “Dogs of Skaneateles” Facebook group. “We wanted to encourage people to at least get out on their own with their dogs, so we posted videos of us walking our own dogs. It evolved to people putting dog tips on there, fun memes and videos, just for something light and happy.” The group continues and complements the store’s Facebook page. “We don’t sell any products or services in the group. It’s just for people who live around here and want to share the joy of having dogs in their lives.”

4. FAMILY PHOTOS: Behind the checkout counter at Lucky Dogs hang portraits of Amy and Pat’s Labrador Retrievers, whose names all reflect the couple’s deep pride in their Irish roots: the late Murphy and Kennedy, with current pups Saoirse and Caoimhe. “It feels like our girls are at the store with us every day,” Amy says.

5. COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Lucky Dogs regularly donates time, product and money to Finger Lakes SPCA of Central New York; Shamrock Animal Fund, which helps fund veterinary treatment for those in financial difficulty; and Clear Path for Veterans, which trains and pairs service dogs with veterans.

See more photos of Lucky Dogs.

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