Thursday, April 26, 2018
Business

Brooksville pet store owner knows thing or two about dogs and cats

BROOKSVILLE — The merchandise is shiny, alluring or I-never-knew-there-was-such-a-thing at Happy Tails Pet Supply Outlet. And the pleasantly shared knowledge and advice offered by owner Jason Holt are a rarity at competing big-box stores.

This summer, Holt moved around the corner from his previous location into more spacious and visible quarters facing busy Broad Street on the south side of Brooksville. It's a move that has brought in new customers and pleased regulars, some of whom date back to the shop's opening in 2007.

Holt, 35, emphasizes he's no veterinarian. But he will suggest a dog food low in fat and fiber-balanced for a canine plagued with pancreatitis. And to a military veteran struggling to handle a service dog, he will pass along contact information for the Brooksville-based K9 Partners for Patriots or professional dog trainer Mary Peter.

"I'm not medically trained, but I do study a lot," Holt said. "If I can be helpful to somebody or refer to someone, I try to do that."

As for competing against big-box chains, Holt said Happy Tails is "a couple of bucks lower on big items."

"I try to be as competitive as I can," he said. "I have less overhead, lower electricity, heating, employees, all that."

His wife and ownership partner, Stacy, is the lone staffer with her husband in the roughly 4,000-square-foot emporium.

Furthermore, pet owners statistically prefer to shop at family-owned establishments. Nationally, 59 percent of players in the pet supply industry are small independents.

In tune with other nationwide figures, about 60 percent of the couple's business consists of dog food, 20 percent to 30 percent cat food, and the remainder supplies such as toys, beds and carriers, chews, feeding utensils, cleaning products, leashes and whatnot.

The store fulfills the increasing trend toward premium dog foods, stocking nearly a dozen brands and encompassing dry, wet and fresh refrigerated and frozen. Labels tout, for instance, inclusion of duck, seafood, venison and vegetables. Holt points out that the frozen feedstuffs are pasteurized, not cooked, so they contain all of their natural vitamins.

Fromm stands out as the best-selling brand, of Fromm Family Foods, a fifth-generation family-owned artisan pet food company in Wisconsin.

"I like it," Holt said, "because it has no corn, no wheat, no soy, artificial colors or preservatives, no byproducts."

With more cats than dogs as pets in U.S. households — roughly 75 million versus 70 million — Holt pointed out that cat food sales amount to about half that of dog food sales because "a large dog can eat many times more than several cats."

Beyond food, Happy Tails' selection of pet "others" is tempting:

For canines, stainless steel dishes ranging from half-pint size to five quarts, compartmented slow-feeder bowls, designer collars and leashes, fashionable warm-weather ruffled beachwear and golf shirts, cold-weather coats, treats the flavor of blueberries and watermelon, practical diapers for a bitch in heat, toys from soft fleece to a "tuff" snowball, and coal lump replicas for Christmas stockings.

For cats, a mock carousel with feather-tailed mice riding on tiny springs; a collapsible agility tunnel; chirping teasers; soft to dental treats of duck, salmon and ready-to-grow mixed grasses; utilitarian antihairball chews; and climbing apparatus with carpeted stairs.

Pets are welcome to shop with their keepers. On a recent afternoon, local resident Jesse Crom brought his spirited pit-boxer mix, Chris, to be fitted for a muzzle. The 58-pounder had been set upon by a pack of canines, consequently adopting a "defensive" attitude, Crom said. The owner wanted to ensure safety for canines and humans alike.

Chris objected to the gear, pawing at the muzzle. Holt recommended brief wearing periods, then rewarding each with a treat. Dogs can be taught new behaviors with the use of rewards, he told Crom.

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

Comments
Amazon raising price of annual Prime membership to $119

Amazon raising price of annual Prime membership to $119

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its annual Prime membership fee by 20 percent starting next month. The company said Thursday that Prime members in the U.S. will now pay $119 a year, up from $99, starting May 11 for new members. The new pric...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Cities turn to private inspectors as construction booms, and problems follow

Cities turn to private inspectors as construction booms, and problems follow

ST. PETERSBURG --- With construction booming throughout Florida, private inspectors are increasingly reviewing the work of building contractors. But that has sometimes led to missed code violations and other problems.Now the city of St. Petersburg is...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Almost half of all homes for sale in Tampa Bay are unaffordable for first-time buyers

Almost half of all homes for sale in Tampa Bay are unaffordable for first-time buyers

Times Staff WriterAlmost half of all homes on the market in the Tampa Bay area are unaffordable for many buyers. According to Zillow, 48.7 percent of homes for sale are "high-end --- more than $348,0000 in Tampa Bay -- while just 20.5 percent are "l...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecast in first quarter

Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecast in first quarter

TAMPA — Growing sales at Outback Steakhouse have once again led parent company Bloomin’ Brands to beat Wall Street’s expectations, the latest quarterly report shows.But the Tampa-based restaurant group’s other chains are failing to keep up. Bloomin’ ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it will shed most of its North American car lineup as part of broad plan to save money and make the company more competitive in a fast-changing marketplace.The changes include getting rid of all cars in...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Domino’s lifts curtain on ‘pizza theater’ in Lutz

Domino’s lifts curtain on ‘pizza theater’ in Lutz

LUTZ — Domino’s new ‘pizza theater’ store recently opened in Lutz, just outside of the Ballantrae subdivision. The store features the open-concept pizza theater design which offers viewing of the food preparation process.There is also a comfortable l...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Engaged couple opens chiropractic practice for all ages on W Hillsborough Ave

Engaged couple opens chiropractic practice for all ages on W Hillsborough Ave

TAMPA — Dr. Kaylee Canalungo and Dr. Kace Groff were attending Palmer College of Chiropractic in different states when a mutual friend introduced them. After graduating and working together at a chiropractic office in New York, they are engaged to be...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Clean Juice gets 3rd spot in Hyde Park Village

Michelle Piniella forecast about another South Tampa Clean Juice location in March, and now it’s official. The healthy, fresh juice concept has secured a lease with Hyde Park Village.The opening date is to be announced this summer as it is currently ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Cuban cuisine transformed at Armature Works

Cuban cuisine transformed at Armature Works

DOWNTOWN — Felicia Lacalle says cuban cooking is in her blood as she traditionally learned from her mother growing up. Since then she has perfected her craft finding ways to recreate classic dishes with a modern twist and now she aims to change the C...
Updated: 10 hours ago
PolitiFact: False claim circulates about Allegiant Air offering 2 free tickets

PolitiFact: False claim circulates about Allegiant Air offering 2 free tickets

The statement"Allegiant Air is rewarding everyone with 2 free plane tickets to celebrate April Aviation Week!"Bloggers, April 22 in a blog postThe rulingContrary to a false claim on a phony website, Allegiant Air is not offering two free tickets in e...
Updated: 1 hour ago