Three Tails Parlor and Pantry, Columbia and Waterloo, IL
OWNERS: Taylor Gonzalez and Renee Gonzalez; URL: threetailspets.com; LOCATIONS: 2; INSTAGRAM: threetails9900 | thretails6800; FACEBOOK: threetailsparlorpantry; FOUNDED: 2018; AREA: 5,000 square-feet Columbia; 5,800 square feet Waterloo; TOP BRANDS: Fromm, Rawbble, Stella & Chewy’s, A Pup Above, Primal, Earth Animal, Austin and Kat, Fluff & Tuff, Tall Tails, West Paw, Weruva, Momentum; EMPLOYEES: 3 full-time, 1 part-time Columbia; 3 full-time, 4 part-time Waterloo
TAYLOR GONZALEZ GREW up with her mother as an entrepreneurial role model. Renee Gonzalez purchased Waterloo Feed and Pet Supply in Waterloo, IL, when Taylor was just 10 years old. When Taylor graduated from college in 2017, she decided to join the family business — in a way.
Taylor opened Three Tails Parlor and Pantry 15 minutes away in Columbia, and Renee rebranded her store with the same name.
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“We share the same POS system, therefore we share the same pricing and customer loyalty programs. I coordinate monthly promotions for both locations. However, we are separate in that I own my store and my mom owns hers,” Taylor explains. “The purpose is to keep customers within our area shopping under the Three Tails brand versus other options.”
The creation of that brand drew inspiration from the Gonzalez family Labradors, Samson, Sawyer and Scout. Their tails appear in the store logo, and Taylor says, “Our mission is to always learn more, find the best affordable products for not only our pets but for our customers, to help each and every pet live the longest, healthiest, happiest lives we can give them.” Renee adds, “We treat everyone’s pets like our own.”
Taylor Gonzalez, Renee Gonzalez
In 2021, the family business evolved yet again when Taylor moved her Three Tails to a 5,000-square-foot space that could better accommodate its expanding clientele and growing menu of services. Taylor got a crash course in literally building a store. “The building was an old dry cleaner and had to be completely gutted,” she says. With the help of her family and a builder friend, Taylor involved herself in every aspect of executing her vision. “I learned how to design architectural plans, drill studs, hang drywall, lay flooring, paint walls, and so much more. Almost every single task to build out my store, I was involved in, which I think is special and unique to share with customers as I show them around.”
While her location serves dogs and cats, and Renee’s also has products for small animals and livestock, both have a similar aesthetic. “They have the same wood plank floors, the same farmhouse-chic look,” Taylor says, adding, “We wanted to take more antique and refurbished furniture to use as display pieces. The feeling is that you are not walking into a standard pet store.”
In addition to the healthy products and services both Three Tails stores offer, the Columbia location (above) offers hydrotherapy.
Pet Health & Wellness
Three Tails takes a holistic approach to pet health that also helps it compete against big-box and large chains in the area. Always mindful of the important role diet plays, both stores stock a wide array of high-quality foods and supplements. Taylor and Renee are Certified Pet
Food Nutritionists through Dogs Naturally.
They also have formed strong working relationships with many local veterinarians. “One thing the vets know — if a dog or cat has an allergy test done at their office, they can send them to us and we’ll find the right diet” for the pet, Renee says.
Both stores also offer grooming and self-wash. The Columbia location features complementary services such as chiropractic clinics and canine massage, offered bi-monthly, and hydrotherapy. “The chiropractor has helped dogs with many issues, like ear infections, digestive tract issues, seizures. There is more than one way to fix an issue,” Taylor says.
Personal experience paired with customer requests have helped create this ever-growing menu of services. “Chiropractic and massage are things I do for my own body. Dogs’ bodies aren’t too far off from human bodies,” Taylor says. “We’ve offered massage for about a year. It’s definitely for calmer dogs, but they love it. It helps with stress and anxiety.”
Taylor remains open to trying new services to help her pet customers. “Another business owner was selling her hydrotherapy tank, so I bought it. I had a dog who had broken his leg, and the vet thought they might have to amputate. Hydrotherapy really helped, and the leg was saved, so I wanted to offer this service,” she says. Her store has a private room for the underwater treadmill.
Taylor Gonzalez moved her store to a former dry cleaner in 2021. With help, she renovated it into a farmhouse chic space.
Three Tails also stands apart thanks to its deep roots. “I grew up in Columbia. I want to give back to the community that built me,” Taylor says. “If someone is going through a hardship or tragedy, we want to help any way we can.”
Every holiday season, the stores sponsor a Home for the Holidays event for a longtime resident of Helping Strays of Monroe County. “The chosen resident can pick out whatever they want for Christmas,” Taylor explains. “During this Facebook Live event, viewers can learn more about our guest star, recommend their pet’s favorite products, and tag friends who may be interested in adopting our guest. So far, every pet we’ve spotlighted has been adopted.”
Organizations that work with veterans and service dogs are particularly close to Taylor and Renee’s hearts. They regularly partner with Got Your Six Support Dogs to host fundraisers. “My boyfriend just retired from the U.S. Army after four tours overseas,” Taylor shares. “The first-hand experience opened my eyes to the life-altering sacrifices these men, women, K9s and their families make to protect our country.”
All of the above have allowed both stores to grow. Columbia has seen an 80% revenue increase since moving, and Waterloo has grown 45% since rebranding.
Taylor and Renee also point to their relationship as well as different perspectives and life experiences as keys to their success. “Being in business is hard no matter who you do it with. With my mom, I know she’s always in my corner,” Taylor says. “Her connections have helped us grow. Her experiences and my ‘new’ have been a great combination. My mom knows what works, and I can put a fresh spin on it.”
The concept of family extends to customers and staff. “It’s a family business, and we treat everyone like family,” Renee says. “We know the customers, and when they come in, they feel like they’re at home.” Taylor adds, “Our staff is passionate and knowledgeable. They always want to learn more and be better” for our customers. “The whole ‘small-town family feel’ is the most important element of our stores.”
Five Cool Things About Three Tails Parlor and Pantry
1. WELCOME CATS. Any number of rescue cats (six between the two stores) greet customers, meander around the shelves and displays. “We have people who just come in to see the cats,” Renee says.
2. HUMAN HEALTH. Taylor says, “For a living, we advocate the importance of wellness for pets. Therefore, I preach the same thing for our team. I found affordable health insurance so they, too, could have the opportunity to make their health a priority.” Full-time employees can get medical, dental and vision insurance.
3. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. K9 officers get free grooming, and military and first responders get 15% off all retail.
4. HAPPY EASTER. During the pandemic, Three Tails created at-home Easter Egg Hunt kits for dogs and cats. They were such a hit, the store continues to offer them each year.
5. paid tuition. Taylor says, to “stay up to date on ever-changing knowledge and techniques,” the store pays for a variety of education courses for its staff, from nutrition and grooming to Pet first aid and CPR.
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