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America's Coolest

Meet the 2020 PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores Judges

Learn about the people who selected this year’s America’s Coolest pet businesses.




LEIB DODELL is founding partner of Bar K, which won first place in the 2019 PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores contest. The innovative business in Kansas City, MO, combines a fully staffed dog park with a bar, restaurant and event space. He has a diverse professional background in insurance and law, and a long history of community activism, including serving on the board of directors of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

SPENCER WILLIAMS is CEO and owner of West Paw. A fifth-generation Montanan, Williams grew up on a working ranch. He earned a bachelor’s degree in German from Middlebury College. Williams is a founding board member, and past board chair, of the Pet Sustainability Coalition. He lives in Bozeman, MT, with his wife and their two teenage sons, plus a dog, cat and chinchilla.

MELISSA KAUFFMAN is the executive editor of Dogster and Catster magazines. She has covered the pet industry for more than 25 years, including working for Pet Product News, Rabbits, Ferrets and Bird Talk. She lives with her dog, parrots and husband in Charlotte, NC, where she also fosters for Companion Parrots Re-homed.

MATT ALDRICH entered the pet industry as a teen, working at a local pet store. Now he owns and operates Pet Engine Marketing, a professional pet store marketing agency that helps independent local pet stores market their business and increase revenue and profit, in addition to giving time and energy back to the owner.

TRACE MENCHACA owns and operates Flying M Pet Grocery in Houston, TX, with her husband, daughter, son and mom. The eclectic and welcoming store won an honorable mention in 2018’s America’s Coolest Stores contest. Menchaca also hosts Trace’s Store School on Fridays in the PETS+ Facebook Community.



P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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