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The Seattle Barkery’s Treat Chute Wows Pets and People

Ben and Dawn Ford like to create excitement for their canine customers.

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A pup waits for his treat to drop from the chute. A pup waits for his treat to drop from the chute.

BEN AND DAWN FORD like to create excitement for their canine customers at The Seattle Barkery, which boasts one brick-and-mortar and three mobile treat stores. The “Treat Chute” dog treat dispenser does exactly that and has become an adorable social media success.

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THE IDEA

A few years ago, Ben Ford says he was tinkering with different concepts for an in-store experience that would make customers want to hang out longer. He had a eureka moment.

“I was working on our Treat Bar, and I thought of drilling a hole in it so the dogs could just follow their noses and have easy access to treats,” Ford explains. “I drilled a hole through a piece of plywood, slapped a little paint on it and held a naming contest with our followers on social media. We narrowed it down to three ideas, put it up for a vote, and that’s how the ‘Treat Chute’ was born.”

THE EXECUTION

A pup waits for his treat to drop from the chute.The Chute became such a popular attraction and photo opportunity that Ford decided to create three different iterations out of PVC piping for the other Barkery locations as they opened. Instead of handing treats directly to dogs — and running the risk of getting nipped — employees simply drop the treat into the top end of the chute, located behind the register.

“It rolls down the pipe and shoots into the bowl,” he says of one version, “so you don’t have to touch anything. And with these strange times with COVID-19, a hands-off approach is always the better idea,” he says.

The Chute has become such a hit with Barkery customers that they make a beeline for it now. “They know what they want and what to expect,” Ford laughs.

THE RESULTS

Not only does the Treat Chute serve as an ice breaker and conversation starter with new customers, it also has become a fabulous photo op, generating plenty of Barkery buzz online.

“The pictures alone have benefitted us a lot,” Ford says. “We have a Chute mounted on the outside of our Treat Trailer at Magnuson Dog Park, and even when it’s closed, we get pictures of people using the Chute to give treats to their dogs.”

Meanwhile, he continues to come up with ideas for keeping the Barkery’s doggie regulars excited and engaged, although some concepts haven’t progressed past the experimental stages.

“I thought about creating a little treat catapult, but that got kind of crazy,” Ford says.

Do It Yourself: 5 Tips for Implementing Your Own Treat Feature

  • BRAINSTORM. Think up your own interactive chute, window or hatch that allows canine customers to get a tasty treat.
  • GET HELP. Not a builder? Hire a local handyperson or carpenter to make it reality.
  • NAME IT. Give the feature a catchy name that can easily be hashtagged.
  • BE STRATEGIC. Use it to promote new treats you want customers to try — and buy.
  • SOCIALIZE. Encourage customers to share photos of the feature on their social media pages, and to tag you!

Lisa Plummer Savas is a pet journalist and content marketing writer whose work has been featured in pet publications including Dogster, Catster, Best Friends and Pet Age. When not covering the pet industry or blogging about global animal welfare issues, Lisa can be found training at her local dance studio in her quest to become a national ballroom champion. She lives in Atlanta with her beloved husband and very pampered Shih tzu, Dudley.

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