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8:47 PM   April 19, 2015
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Good Dog Goods Pet Boutique

Good Dog Goods: A Pet Boutique on Martha's Vineyard

Pet Style newsThe story of Good Dog Goods Boutique began when Kerry Scott started selling dog food out of her home. A breeder of Gordon setters for more than 30 years, Scott had always paid close attention to the health of her animals-with a special focus on holistic and homeopathic ways of caring for her pets.

Kerry Scott, owner of Good Dog Goods

“I fell in love with the concept of frozen dog food made of raw meat and cooked grains. That was the beginning of my store really,” she recalls.

Scott, owner of Good Dog Goods Boutique in Oak Bluffs, a resort town on the northeast shore of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, made a name for herself by selling Bil-Jac’s frozen dog food out of her living room-first to owners of sick and aged animals, and later to any owners interested in feeding their dogs a healthy, natural diet.
On Halloween in 1999, she moved her living-room business into an old Victorian home (commercially zoned, of course), complete with a wooden porch and dog yard in the back. From the first day Good Dog Goods opened, Scott has sold dog food, holistic supplements and remedies and “all the boutiquey stuff” too, she says.

The boutique is located in a tourist location-a fact that has shaped every aspect of the business. Martha’s Vineyard has an estimated year-round population of just above 15,500-a number that rises significantly during the summer months.

“We have a very limited season,” Scott says. “June through September is our busiest time of year.” The high-season at Good Dog Goods makes up about 50 percent of the store’s annual revenue.

With the short selling season, Good Dog Goods has adapted to the resort life and learned how to maximize the summer months by creating an identity as a landmark that visitors seek out. One way Scott has created a niche is by offering a welcoming place where people can bring their pets, hang out and relax; another way is by offering products that nobody else on the island sells.

“Grocery stores might sell dog products, but they don’t sell the same food or products I sell. I did that deliberately because it’s a small island and I didn’t want to take business away from anybody,” Scott says.
Products in the boutique are all made in the U.S., and many of the products are from woman-owned, family-owned or local businesses.

In addition to dog food and holistic remedies, Good Dog Goods carries private-label bakery goods and supplements; toys; coats; beds; collars, harnesses and leashes from Preston and Up Country; and breed items including books, clocks by F.B. Fogg and hand-painted pottery by Karen Donleavy. The store also features a cat corner.

Another characteristic that sets Good Dog Goods apart from other local businesses in the resort location is that the store carries many products that can be used by humans and animals alike.

“We sell a lot of cross-over products, like our flea and tick spray,” Scott notes. The private-labeled product is a favorite for landscapers and tennis players, she says. The store also sells pet blinkers, traditionally for leashes, to fishermen.

And when the winter months come, Good Dog Goods continues to thrive through its mail-order business. Many customers will visit Good Dog Goods once and become a customer for life by ordering products via phone or mail. Special-order and mail-order items have always been the other majority of the boutique’s revenue-and with the launch of Good Dog Goods website three years ago, that number continues to grow.

“At first, I just wanted to make sure that I had a presence online. But after all the interest, it was clear that it needed to be an e-commerce site,” Scott says.

Initially she had some concern that doing business online would deprive customers of the personal touch that has helped her and her staff win over celebrities and vacation homeowners alike. But Scott says her team has learned how to foster those personal relationships with customers-even if they’re on the other side of the country.

“Every package we send out has a handwritten note. We remember our customers. We always add that extra step and build relationships in spite of the fact that we’ve never met,” she says.

Scott believes it is the relationships that she and her staff (Mary, Gina, Deb and Sam-all whom have been on board with Scott since she opened the store) have formed that make it all work-along with their passion for four-legged friends.

“We spend a lot of time talking to people, letting them try stuff. If you think you like it, borrow it for a day or two and then decide,” Scott says.

While you’re there, sit down, talk to the staff and stay a while. And if you can’t make the trip out to Martha’s Vineyard, you can enjoy a little bit of that New England charm online.

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