Laura Taylor, owner of Woofables Bakery, discusses how a customized selection of her company’s gourmet pet treats can help pet specialty retailers stand out from the competition.
Pet Business: Tell us about Woofables Bakery. How and when did the company get started? What inspired you to get into the gourmet pet treat business?
Laura Taylor: Woofables, The Gourmet Dog Bakery, first opened in 2004. It was started by two women—one loved baking, the other was an accountant, and both loved dogs. They built a loyal local following (both human and canine) for Woofables dog treats in the Iowa City, Iowa, area.
After six years, both were in a position where their spouses’ careers were taking them to different parts of the country. The business was breaking even, and they were tired after six years of hard work with no financial gain.
My husband and I bought the business in 2010. We had worked for other entrepreneurial businesses and had always thought it would be fun to have our own business, we just didn’t know what we wanted it to be. After a friend of the family told us that Woofables was for sale, we spent the next few months holding several discussions with the former owners and several pieces just fell into place, which almost made it seem like it was meant to be.
There were several key factors that made us comfortable with this purchase:
- The business had remained steady even through the area’s devastating floods in 2008;
- The business remained steady through the beginning of the recession in 2009 and 2010;
- It was a very unique, niche market; and
- We observed a shift in the marketplace as dog owners have become more conscious of what they feed their pets and have integrated their pets as true family members.
When we bought the bakery, we only baked treats for our own retail location. Today, Woofables treats are sold in hundreds of retail and online stores around the country. Gourmet dog treats give dog owners a fun way to spoil and connect with their pets. As more people have brought their dogs into the family as truly a family member, they enjoy having these products to show and share their love.
PB: What sets Woofables and its products apart from other competitors in the market?
Taylor: One thing that makes Woofables unique is our ability to customize treats. Because these treats are handmade (with human-grade ingredients), we are able to make any flavor in any shape, with any decorating. This allows retailers from different regions to have custom treats that are relevant to sports teams or local culture. For example, Lobster treats sell great in Maine. Flamingo treats sell great down south. Star treats are popular in Texas. And our pizzas, hot dogs and squirrels are always popular anywhere.
PB: Why should pet stores carry gourmet treats? How can a good selection of these products help a retailer stand out?
Taylor: Gourmet treats provide retailers with a fun, unique product that gives customers an easy way to spoil and enjoy their pets.
PB: What advice would you give to retailers about merchandising gourmet treats?
Taylor: Display an assortment by your registers. Customers love to pick out their own treats, just like you do in a bakery. Last November, Woofables discovered how much people (and dogs) enjoy sharing Thanksgiving together. As a holiday revolving around food, let your dogs enjoy with turkey legs and pumpkin pie, or offer a Thanksgiving dog treat basket for the dog-loving host of your Thanksgiving meal.