by Maria Downey
10:45 PM AKST, November 17, 2010
Pet stores are a multi-million-dollar business nationwide -- one that’s growing because people love their pets. With the number of Anchorage stores rising, Channel 2’s Maria Downey looks at the next step in the high-end market.
Across town, the signs are clear: it isn’t just kids who drive a major section of Anchorage’s discretionary spending. The evidence is particularly prominent at pet boutique Paw Prince.
“I think it is a trend -- it's a national trend,” said Paw Prince owner Jann Palach. “I think people are looking at their pets as family members, more so than ever, and a lot of people don't have children -- so their pets become their children.”
And with so many more consumers willing to spend more on their pets, businesses are springing up to offer much more than just the basics.
“What they're doing is passing up their morning latte and spending it on their pet instead,” Palach said.
Among Paw Prince’s wide selection of fancy pet apparel, shoppers will find something for all seasons, sizes and tastes -- especially people like Kim Black, who admits her Dachshund is just a little spoiled.
“I think it is hilarious; I think it's really fun,” Black said.
One of the newest additions to the canine-comfort trend is Doggy Decadents, which bakes hand-made treats inside Paw Prince’s new location at 1120 Huffman Rd.
“I'd say about 80 percent of my customers are curious and try them themselves,” said Doggy Decadents owner Chelsey Homan. “They're all-natural with human-grade ingredients; there's no additives or preservatives. The treats are dehydrated after being baked in order to preserve them.”
Homan sells a range of her handiwork, from cupcakes to $35 birthday cakes -- along with birthday hats to complete a party.
“We get a a lot of orders every month,” Homan said. “To celebrate their dog’s birthday they'll throw a little puppy party, they'll invite all their friends over and to bring their other dogs, and they'll order a cake and some treats and just have a little bash.”
Homan says Doggy Decadence’s creations all started in her mother’s kitchen in 2007. As a high-school student, Homan had a knack for creating original treats that carried her from her parents’ home to her own shop.
“You can come in and watch me baking, and you know exactly what goes into the treats,” Homan said. “There's a lot of love that goes into them, a lot of love and labor.”
As a business owner, sole employee and University of Alaska Anchorage business student, Homan is banking on the latest trend with her official taster, Skipper -- and some of his closest friends.
“The treats are tested and approved by our dogs and ourselves,” Homan said.
Both business owners describe themselves as animal advocates. Homan says her dog Skipper is a rescue dog, and she continues to contribute to those causes along with Palach.
Palach says she and her husband want to be able to donate 10 percent of Paw Prince’s annual profits to local animal charities.
Events will be held Friday through Sunday to celebrate the opening of Paw Prince and Doggy Decadents, including a pet fashion show and a dog-biscuit eating contest for humans.
Contact Maria Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org
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