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Readers Comment on the PETS+ 2022 America’s Coolest Winners

They also had feedback about other content and the magazine in general.




America’s Coolest

  • I think the winners are well deserved, and I aspire to be as successful as Nancy Guinn from Dog Krazy! She is a great role model for those looking to expand their business. — Margo Tortorelis, My Natural Pet, Brooklyn, NY
  • I think the contest is awesome, and I hope to participate one day! — Theresa Moreno, For Healthy Pets, Montgomery, AL
  • I think the winners are usually too large, so smaller pet stores don’t even want to compete. I’d have to take out a six-figure loan to compare to these stores. — Krysta Fox, Bruce & Willy’s Natural Pet Source, Geneva, IL
  • We love hearing about stores that have years of experience. It gives us goals for our store, and just knowing there are successful “true” independents with only a handful of stores gives us real hope that we will be able to continue competing against online marketplaces and corporate box stores. — Zachary Dewitt Skilos, A Family Pet Store, Milwaukee, WI
  • I always find something interesting about any of the featured businesses. Sometimes I get ideas that I can implement in my own business, or learn about products and displays that are new and successful. — Amanda Favoino, Paws of Distinction, New Paltz, NY
  • The businesses profiled are definitely cool, and worthy winners! I liked the bonus “one really cool thing” section, too, to highlight more businesses! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I immediately went to the Iv San Bernard site and ordered their treatments. Thanks, Kim Kier [of winner Little Barks Grooming and Boutique]! — Ashley Lancaster, Hot Diggity, Barnstable, MA
  • I enjoyed reading about the winners. It’s great that you included other pet businesses, not just brick-and-mortar retailers. — Susan Nagel-Rees, Winky’s Pet Boutique, Chester, NJ
  • I simply just love to see what others are doing and having success with, and I feel like as a fellow independent, I share a bit in their celebrations! — Erin Paitrick, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, Summerville, SC
  • The profiles were so inspiring, the wins were clearly all very well deserved. I hope to someday visit as many of these fantastic shops as I can! — Jennifer Flanagan, Nature’s Pet Market, Sherwood, OR
  • I love looking at all the stores and how amazing they are. It inspires me to make my store better and more appealing in layout and design. My goal is to enter once I feel my store is up to par! — Elaina Stanley, Three Happy Hounds, Fernley, NV
  • Contest covered just about every little nook in the industry. Super happy to see our friends at Dogs & Cats Rule get recognized for the Bark at the Park event! — Jen Ware, Bill’s Wonderland of Pets, Magnolia, NJ
  • I always love reading about other successful pet businesses and getting ideas from them on marketing or activities/events! It has definitely helped me develop the department in our stores. — Cassie Nilsson, The Mill Stores, Whiteford, MD
  • Good ideas. Makes me strive to be better. — Laurie McClearen, Cohutta Country Store, Blue Ridge, GA
  • I love seeing the America’s Coolest issue! The stores and owners are inspiring and help motivate me to continue being creative with my own store. — Crisi Fetters, Local Pet, Victoria, TX
  • Loved reading and viewing all of the contest winners. I am so impressed with every one of them. So much to strive for. — Dani Edgerton, Paws on Main, Columbiana, OH
  • I always love reading their stories and find their enthusiasm inspiring. — Shelly Nicastro, Essex Bird & Pet Supply, Essex, MA
  • Great edition … looking forward to entering in 2023. — Michael Morris, Yarn and Bone Pet Supply, Camden, DE
  • All amazing winners, as usual! — Beth Staley, Happy Dog Barkery, Downers Grove, IL
  • I always enjoy seeing which stores win. It’s fun to read about these stores and to implement some new ideas into my own. — Julie Sterling, Julz Animal Houz, Marysville, WA
  • No small single-location stores. — Bob Bianchi, Blue Ribbon Koi & Marine, Catharpin, VA
  • It was great to see all the winner’s profiles and especially one of the stores I work with. — Karen Komisar, Sea Dog Pet Boutique, Annapolis, MD
  • I loved the variety of areas and the eclectic group of businesses chosen! — Jennifer Thomas, Lucky Dog Pet Grocery & Bakery, Lawrence, KS
  • Love it! Love to see what other businesses are doing! One day, I’m going to enter and see what happens!! — Keith Henline, Asheville Pet Supply, Asheville, NC
  • I think it’s a great feature, although I’m not a contest person and don’t see me ever entering. Nice to see other people’s creativity and passion in the indie pet world!! — Karen Conell, The Bark Market, Delavan, WI
  • The contest was very good, all the stores that won I can see why they won. — Brittany Jones, Eastern Pet Company, Elizabeth City, NC
  • I like that there were more winners this year. I hope that with enough staff that I have time to apply next year. — Jennifer Guevin, Holistic for Pets, Sarasota, FL
  • Looking forward to reading their stories. — Kaye Busse-Kleber, Bark On Mulford, Rockford, IL
  • Always love the magazine. Gives us all something to aspire to and confirms for us the things we do right! — Jamie Schuller, Dog Naturals, Branson, MO
  • It’s always an interesting group of shops, and I like that smaller shops were featured instead of the big flashy ones. — Jeff Jensen, Four Muddy Paws, St. Louis, MO
  • Love the contest. The goal is to enter one year! This is my favorite magazine! — Samantha Youngblood, Youngblood’s Natural Animal Care Center and Massage, Wilkinson, IN
  • I love the contest. It’s a great way to see how other people are successfully running their business and snag great pointers, tips and tricks from them! — Lauren O’Hanlon, Ruff House, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Always love reading the America’s Coolest features and dreaming up new ideas and just genuinely being so happy for the winners that made a great business. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee,WA
  • The shops were AWESOME! Makes me want to take a road trip and see some of these in person. — Cherie Iannuzzi, Percy Paws, North Conway, NH
  • I was so excited to see so many members of the Pet Boss Club win! It makes me feel great about my investment in the club and I strive to win America’s Coolest someday! — Randy Walker, Lakeshore Pet Boutique, Douglas, MI
  • I LOVE this contest and reading about the winning stores. It’s great to see what really helps people excel in their business! — Becci Scott, Fetching Dog, Scottsdale, AZ
  • I love seeing what those folks are doing that brings them such success and being so cool! Love the pictures of the store and would love to see more of that! — Kim Gatto, The Wagging Tail, Las Vegas, NV
  • I love your magazine and emails. I look forward to them and share the info whenever possible.Thank you. — Thea Christopher, Salty Pets, Cape May Court House, NJ
  • I always enjoy seeing who the winners are. I usually hop on their websites to see more photos and see what their “About” pages say about them. It’s fun and inspiring:) — Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • I wish I had the money they spent on their merchandising. I can’t afford it without raising prices drastically. — Ron Keller, Captivating Canines, Westerville, OH
  • Congrats to the winners! — Jenny DuBrock, Don’t 4 Get About Me, Pingree, IL
  • It’s always so fun to see who won, and what they’re doing differently or better (or more creatively) than we are. Love incorporating some of the ideas we see to help freshen our store for our customers. My fave issue! — Diana Farrar Fifi & Fidos Pet Boutique, San Antonio, TX
  • Loved learning about the winning businesses and how they started. What they do and how they make it work when they are specialized stores! — Penny Murano, Unleashed, New London, NH
  • Every year I love to see who has won. As a small store, I have never participated. Many of the criteria are just not something that we do at this store, ie advertising. We continue to do very well with mostly word-of-mouth and having a full fun store for people to visit and shop in. We wanted our store to be a destination and a place that people just love to come and shop in. I feel this has helped us more than any magazine recognition since the general public doesn’t see these magazines. It’s just people in the business. — April Wright, The Dog and Cat, Essex and Stowe VT
  • I always find the publication fun and informative. Your choices of winning pet businesses are great, and reading about their success is invigorating. — Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • I am grateful! — Ashley Cook, Viva La Pet, Dover, NJ
  • I was excited that Dog Krazy was featured. They are in my hometown and were the first independent specialty pet store I ever visited. It is amazing how much they have grown over the years! I also liked the new products at Superzoo. I always look for other’s opinions on what I should check out while I am there because there is so much to see. It helps narrow my focus. — Kat Forry, A1 Pet Emporium, Oklahoma City, OK
  • I always enjoy seeing the ideas that these stores have and feel envious. Maybe someday I will see my store in this edition, but I’m not there yet. — Kelly Hilzendager, Treat Play Love, Grand Forks, ND
  • I love seeing the America’s Coolest pet businesses! The photos are always amazing to see. I always feel like my business is visually lacking because we’re so focused on nutrition, and specifically raw, freeze-dried raw, and lightly cooked diets. There aren’t a lot of other products to make a big visual impact, so I really love seeing what other businesses do! — Beth Kidd, Dogs By Design, Irwin, PA
  • I’ve never had the courage to enter the contest. Shame on me. I just feel that we are not at the level of them in our small market. — Lisa Kirschner, Sit, Stay, ‘N Play, Inc., Stroudsburg, PA
  • What I thought was cool was that without knowing it, on vacation I rented a car just so I could visit a local pet store that I Yelped when in Oahu a few weeks ago, not knowing it was an America’s Coolest winner! I got to meet the owners and enjoy friendly conversation! So, yes, naturally the May-June edition was my favorite. I’ve also been hanging onto the article about hiring! Read through that probably a good 15 to 20 times. We’re currently hiring, and it gave me a ton of advice. Thank you! — Kirsten Puhr, The NW Dog, Poulsbo, WA
  • Knowing there are several aspects to the America’s Coolest contest, I was left pondering whether all of this year’s contestants were physically visited. — Janet Cesarini, Pupology, Georgetown, TX
  • I enjoy reading about all of the stores that were featured. It’s nice to see how other businesses do things! — Kristen Watson, The Hipster Hound, Savannah, GA
  • Love this issue! Fresh new ideas and goals to strive for. — Jennifer Baker, Grateful Dog Bakery, North Ridgeville OH
  • Very subjective, but I appreciate seeing what others are doing to stand out. — Shawn Kombogiannis, Pet Wants, Lakeway, TX
  • I really enjoy learning about the America’s Coolest winners. I have added a lot to our wish lists from reading about them. We haven’t entered because the entry process looked complicated and time consuming. — Jodi Etienne, Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bowtique, Bradley, IL
  • My favorite of the year. Always gives me great ideas. — Scott Tripp, Wagabōnz, Galveston, TX
  • I like it and get some good ideas from the winning stores. One day, will remember to submit my store! — Sheila Raebel, Dogma Dog Bakery, Arlington, VA
  • I love reading this issue. There are so many great small businesses with many great ideas! This issue always inspires me to do more, give back more, create an ever better customer experience and just have fun with work!! — Keith Miller, Bubbly Paws, Minneapolis, MN
  • Very inspirational. — Dennis Gingrich, Puppers & Hairballs, Sebring, FL
  • I loved it! Always great to see the success of others and gain inspiration from them. — Annette Jones, Paws & Purrs Barkery & Boutique, Rutherfordton, NC
  • I love seeing the America’s Coolest businesses! And this year I’m so glad you had categories. It gives me a lot of inspiration to expand my footprint and try for next year! — Kayla Swatzell, Barkville Bakery, Peculiar, MO

Other Input

  • I always enjoy reading PETS+. Every issue I find something that inspires me. This is a publication that keeps me up-to-date on current and future trends, and I truly appreciate the time and effort put into producing a reliable, well written and timely publication for our industry. — Laura Backus, Purrrfect Bark, Columbus, NC
  • I enjoy seeing new products, and getting inspiration to sell different items. — Jennifer Branch, Good Dog Treat Truck, Orlando, FL
  • I really like seeing how other retailers are merchandising items. I also like reading about what manufacturers are coming out with and what they recommend we point out when talking about their item. Keep up the good work PETS+! — Bethany Stockman, Laconia Pet Center, Laconia, NH
  • The “Think Different” article about inventory by Candace D’Agnolo was very informative. The state of our world has us all rethinking inventory solutions. — Michele Saharic, Barkley’s Marketplace, Flemington, NJ
  • I found the article on how to attract quality job candidates useful. It made me think about how I was searching for new employees, and I’ve taken steps to broaden my search by using techniques listed. — Lori Anderson A Dog’s Dream, Seattle, WA
  • Your magazine is wonderful, and I always have it in the store because I want my employees to look at it and read it. — Darrel Day, Dog Gone Holistic, Lithia, FL
  • I really like the Real Deal. It’s helpful when you’ve been faced with a similar scenario to not feel so alone in how others have handled it or to have an idea if you were to face it in the future. — Paige Elder, Buzz n’ B’s Pet Shop, Erie, PA
  • I do appreciate that this magazine has content that is NOT advertising. All the other industry magazines have almost 100% paid content. Thank you! — Caroline Gunther, Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique, Hendersonville, NC
  • I can never pick just one article or story. Pets+ is my favorite trade magazine I receive. — Michele Saharic, Barkley’s Marketplace, Flemington, NJ
  • I appreciate information provided to us about the industry and staying relevant with products. — Kendra Blessie-Martin, Woof & Whiskers, Omaha, NE
  • I love the fact that the magazine keeps me informed of what is going on with vendors and manufacturers as well as regulatory changes occurring. I don’t have time to go out and research it. — Stephanie Steelman, Wings Wags and Whiskers, Amarillo, TX

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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