SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

December 11, 2013

Christmas goes to the dogs ... and cats

Specialty shops do brisk business as families add pets to the holiday gift list

SALEM — Good boys and girls aren’t the only ones expecting a visit from Santa this year.

Half of all dog owners purchased Christmas gifts for their pooches last year, spending $11 on average per gift, according to the American Pet Products Association. And more than a third of cat owners put something under the tree for their cats, spending on average $8 for those catnip mice or treats.

Local pet specialty store owners say they do see an uptick in business as pet owners splurge on their four-legged family members during the holidays.

Karen Davis, owner of Penelope’s Pet Boutique in Salem, says her customers often buy winter coats for their dogs, like the bright yellow puffer vest she has for her Yorkshire terrier, George.

Davis, who also owns Coon’s Card and Gift shop around the corner, opened the pet boutique on Washington Street about 11 years ago. She got the idea for the boutique from her Chihuahua named Penelope, who needed to wear a jacket most of the time.

“They buy a lot of stuff for their pets, toys and treats,” she said of her customers, “because pets are unconditional. They love you no matter what.”

“Actually, my dog store does better than this store (Coon’s) at Christmas time,” Davis said.

Penelope’s manager Candy D’Agostino said customers buy toys, coats, collars, leashes and sweaters during the holidays, but it’s the treats that sell the best. And you don’t have to go overboard, she said. Dog cookies sell for as little as 75 cents, and packages of treats cost $5 to $10.

Pawsitively Marblehead, a pet boutique on Pleasant Street in Marblehead, prides itself in offering unique, American-made pet products that can’t be found in the big chain stores, said owner Brooks Williams. Many products are sourced locally.

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