Posted: March 27, 2014, 12:45 p.m. EDT
"Barkitecture” contests, the storefront lure of adorable shelter cats, and supporting local entrepreneurs are just a few of the ways Laurie Wilson supports pets and the people who love them.
By Arden Moore
When it comes to supporting animal shelters and rescue groups in Santa Fe, N.M., Laurie Wilson, owner of Teca Tu – A Pawsworthy Pet Store and Deli, believes in being cooperative, creative and fiercely loyal.
That might explain why when she doubled the size of Teca Tu to 3,200 square feet a couple of years ago, she was happily "talked” into devoting a permanent space in her display window to a large enclosure housing a friendly cat up for adoption with Felines & Friends. Showcased currently is a big orange tabby named Keller who uses his feline charms to bring in customers.
Or it might explain why Wilson teamed up with local pet-loving architects to host the first Barkitecture contest in December. Ten teams competed for bragging rights to build the most creative dog house, with proceeds benefitting the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. All the giant dog houses were proudly on display in front of the Teca Tu store, which is ideally located within the popular Sanbusco Market Center in the historic Guadalupe District of New Mexico’s capital city.
Honoring the Store’s History
When Wilson bought Teca Tu from original owner Diane Burchard in 2005, she never even considered changing the store’s unique name.
Teca Tu’s Laurie Wilson. Teca Tu
"Teca Tu is named for a mutt found on the side of a road near a town called Tecolote by Diane. This dog was the queen of the store for many years before passing away,” said Wilson. "In memory of Teca Tu and dogs like her—those who are fiercely loyal and survivors—we’ve kept her name on the door.”
For her ongoing commitment to the pet community in Santa Fe, Pet Product News International selected Wilson’s business to be spotlighted in this month’s Power in Partnerships series sponsored by Halo, Purely for Pets.
"Laurie Wilson is always the first to propose a partnership or sponsor an event that would benefit the shelter and homeless animals,” said Ben Swan, public information officer for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society. "Laurie is always game to donate products for specific events. This past fall, she donated a huge cat tree and filled it with cat treats for our auction.
"She stocks top-of-the-line merchandise that is creative, innovative and fun for animals and people,” Swan added. "She and her staff have a positive attitude, and they help us spread the word about homeless animals and how to best care for them when a person adopts them.”
A True Commitment to Cats
Bobbi Heller, executive director of nonprofit cat rescue and adoption group Felines & Friends, agreed with Swan regarding Wilson’s commitment. During the expansion and remodeling of Teca Tu two years ago, she approached Wilson with an idea to increase cat adoptions.
"The remodel of the store was fabulous, and I kept eyeing the platform area in one corner,” recalled Heller. "I convinced Laurie to place a permanent cat habitat in the front window to draw people into her store and to cross-promote Felines & Friends. We’ve placed about nine cats through this and many more with our mobile adoptions in front of her store. Laurie is always listening to people and jumping to it to help them—that’s great customer service.”
Teca Tu has ranked among the top three finalists every year since 2004 for the coveted "Best of Santa Fe” Pet Boutiques category in annual contests sponsored by the Santa Fe Reporter. Wilson is quick to share credit for her store’s success with key long-time managers Joanne Buchanan and Mira Lopez.
Here are a handful of examples of Teca Tu’s ongoing commitment to its community:
• Donates pet food to various shelters and encourages shoppers to bring in food to donate to receive 15 percent discounts on store purchases
• Keeps a large bin in front of the store for people to donate coats, dog food, toys and other pet supplies for the Street Homeless Project of Santa Fe
• Contributes more than $10,000 a year in pet-related items to area pet charity auctions and events
• Donates gift baskets for auctions for local schools and the Santa Fe Symphony
• Hosts local pet adoption events in front of the store on weekends and offers store discounts for these groups
In addition, Teca Tu dedicates a portion of the store to feature items for pets and pet lovers created by local artisans and bakers. Among them are the Teca Tu Doggie Vestido Vest (inspired by Southwest Indian wool trade blankets and handmade with cotton and silver-tone conchas) and in-demand Hound Pound Gourmet Dog Cookies created by Barker’s Bakery.
The store carries a wide range of products, including dog apparel, leashes, gourmet treats, beds, toys, spa and grooming supplies, travel accessories and gifts for pet lovers.
When not in the store, Wilson and her husband, Hersch, often are found volunteering at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. They share their home with a couple of Bernese mountain dogs named Nellie and Tank, who occasionally make visits to the store.
"We believe in supporting our local suppliers and in knowing what our customers want and catering to their needs,” said Wilson. "We are always looking for quality items made in New Mexico. We want our store to be a fun and animal-loving place where all of us who are fiercely loyal to our pets are welcome.”
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