Thursday, April 26, 2018
Business

From strollers to playpens, Wags N’ Whiskers caters to four-legged friends

SPRING HILL — Pawing through doggie dresses, coats, sweaters and slickers — and a few feline fashions, too — one can understand why Susan Boulier, the owner of Wags N’ Whiskers pet supply shop, would report, "I had a customer who even had a closet for their dog (clothing)."

Dog body dowries are but one way in which pet owners can pamper their pooches at the shop, relocated this summer to the Towne Square Mall, after the closing of USA Flea Market in Pasco County. Wags N’ Whiskers flourished there for four years, after Boulier had suggested that her retired spouse, Richard, "needed something to do in his retirement."

Drawing on their business careers, the couple scouted flea markets to determine what wasn’t available. Pet goods was their determination. Dog owners themselves, they started small, with little wooden plaques: "I heart my (whatever breed of dog)."

Today, the shop is replete with — in addition to more than 150 heart plaques — snazzy pet strollers, spacious playpens, Day-Glo life jackets, collars from faux pearl to chain-link, leashes from skinny to sturdy, toys, treats and trinkets, from necessary to nicety.

So, who buys the clothes?

"You’d be surprised," said Boulier, sole owner after the recent death of her husband. "Women, of course," she allowed of couture customers. Men often want spruce-up harnesses and leashes, she said.

Most of the fashions, Boulier, 72, sews herself. She eagerly designs and sews custom wearables. Clothing items are priced as low as $10.

Big with boat owners are commercially made life vests — $25 for medium-size dogs, $50 for the largest.

"They say their dog can swim, but what if the boat goes over?" Boulier said. "How long can they swim?"

Jersey tank tops are about her only feline frocks.

"Most say my cat will claw me to death if I’d put (a dress) on them," Boulier explained, adding in a near whisper, "Cats are independent souls."

Cats aren’t so averse to being chauffeured. Thus, at Wags N’ Whiskers, not "dog strollers," but pet strollers are lined up like autos at a dealer’s lot. Buyers generally, Boulier said, are owners of elderly or blind pets, and those that can’t walk long distances. "Or, some people just want to take their dog everywhere."

Strollers, all collapsible, starting at $100, accommodate one or two dogs — or cats — up to 35 pounds each.

Brakes, an under-seat storage rack, seat-attached short leashes and zippered mesh "windshields" are standard. The latter enable owners to stroll their safely contained pets into almost any store, Boulier noted.

The one two-seater model is equipped with a mesh divider "for two dogs that don’t get along together," Boulier said. Another model is built with an attachment for pulling behind a bicycle. Most are four-wheelers, but the tricycle-like three-wheeler navigates best on sand.

Spacious playpens — $85 and $95, 42-inch to 52-inch diameter, 4 feet high — are made of canvas and mesh construction for indoor or outdoor use, each with a covered top and two doors, and side stakes for anchoring. One design has a removable zippered floor, offering the pet contact with the grass. They are particularly popular with camping enthusiasts.

As shoppers gear up for holiday gift buying, the shop carries a number of trinkets suitable as stocking stuffers for pets as well as their owners.

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

Comments
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan makes offer for Wembley Stadium

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan makes offer for Wembley Stadium

LONDON — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium from the English Football Association, increasing the prospect of an NFL franchise in London.Wembley has staged regular-season NFL games since 2007 and the Jagua...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

ST. PETERSBURG — The head of Duke Energy Florida is leaving his post to take a new role with the utility’s parent company June 1, the company announced on Wednesday. Harry Sideris, 47, was appointed this week to serve as vice president a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Published: 04/25/18
As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

WASHINGTON — With hundreds of thousands of emotional support animals taking to the skies on U.S. airlines, Congress may start pulling a tighter leash.Two new legislative options emerged this week to address a hairy issue for American Airlines, Southw...
Published: 04/25/18

Comcast challenges Murdoch with rival bid for U.K.-based Sky

LONDON — U.S. media giant Comcast on Wednesday offered $30.7 billion for Sky PLC, topping a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and setting up a bidding war for Britain’s biggest satellite TV company.Comcast said it would pay approximately $17...
Published: 04/25/18
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

TRINITY — Pasco County will be getting its first Sprouts Farmers Market, the organic grocery chain announced Wednesday. The new store will open at the Village at Mitchell Ranch on State Road 54 and Little Road. Officials with the speciality st...
Published: 04/25/18
Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

Circle K launching own gas at eight Hillsborough locations

TAMPA — Circle K is converting the gas station portion of eight of its Hillsborough locations to Circle K fuel. Previously, the fuel was provided by other brands, such as Shell. The new Circle K branding also brings with it the Canadian-owned conveni...
Published: 04/25/18
Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida leads other hurricane-prone states in quality of its building codes

Florida has the strongest residential building codes among 18 coastal states, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Florida’s rating is 95, almost three times higher than lowest-ranked Texas. Other states wit...
Published: 04/25/18
Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Study: Tampa Bay homes in once ‘redlined’ neighborhoods worth half those in other areas

Times staffRedlining’ — banks’ refusal to make mortgage loans in certain areas — still has a huge effect on housing values even though the practice was banned 50 years ago. According to Zillow, a Tampa Bay house in a once-redlined area is worth less ...
Published: 04/25/18
Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

NOW OPEN: TEX-MEX CHAIN CHUY’SThe Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its first Tampa restaurant on Tuesday, giving away free Chuy’s for two for a year to the first 50 customers. I know, we missed it, it’s a bummer, but we can still visit...
Published: 04/25/18