Meet Your Merchant: Danny and Gina Philips, Guapo Dog
Boutique pet store is like “a candy store for dogs”
Guapo Dog is like “a candy store for dogs,” according to Gina Phillips, who co-owns the new boutique pet store in the Snowmass Mall with her husband and business partner Danny Phillips. (The couple also own and operate Krabloonik Dog Sledding, a recreational mushing and restaurant operation on Divide Road.)
Treats (including some that contain CBD) and toys are the main offerings, but there also are natural medications and supplements for traveling pets who might experience anxiety in a new environment. Pet accessories also are available; Pendleton wool dog vests have been a big hit, Danny said.
The shop, which previously operated as the Krabloonik Country Store, has been operating as Guapo Dog since June, named in honor of a family pet.
“He was like a son to us, and he loved toys,” Danny said. “We would bring him home toys all the time in the bags, and he would open them up like presents, and we wanted to have a store that was just like Guapo Dog that he would love to go into and get to be the customer.”
As for the stocking process, the Phillips said they’re largely buying based on customer feedback and requests.
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The couple told Snowmass Village Town Council back in June that a vet regularly visits Krabloonik and showed whiteboards detailing the dogs’ mushing-specific diets during that site visit, but Gina said in the July interview that the Phillips didn’t consult with that vet nor did they shop for Guapo Dog items based on the food and products they feed their working dogs.
“We just kind of listened to what people were asking for, and it was tourists and it was locals, and just over and over and over again, we just kept hearing the things they were looking for. … It’s really just customer-based, so it’s all the people, and stuff that we know just having pets and dogs and kind of being in that world,” she said.
“A lot of it is people input, what people were looking for, what they were coming in and trying to find, what they couldn’t find in town and just kind of filling that market, that niche.”
That’s not to say that there wasn’t research involved. Gina said that the couple sought out mission-driven companies; some suppliers donate some proceeds to animal shelters and some are local to the state of Colorado. (There are still mainstream offerings like Kong toys, too.)
The focus, Gina emphasized, is on pet owners rather than people who, like the Phillips, operate commercial mushing operations.
And, of course, there’s a focus on the pets themselves, Danny added.
“The store is really designed based on the sensory of pets. It’s all about the dogs walking in and feeling like the dogs are customers, so toys and things like that are down low, dog beds are down low,” he said. “And when the dogs come in, they just do this big loop just like a person shopping, and they look at different things and they come back to different things, and it’s really a place for the owner to hold the leash and let the dog shop.”
As for staffing a new store in a summer defined by the labor shortage, it hasn’t been a piece of cake, Gina said.
Guapo Dog is staffed by a “rock star manager,” she said, but even finding one or two extra workers has been a struggle.
“We’ve been looking since the store opened and had very minimal, if any at all, applicants,” Gina said. “We’re actually putting a sign up in the window of the store just to try to pull anybody that might be looking for work.”
Other than that, though, there hasn’t been much in the way of hurdles and hiccups with the new shop. The couple had hoped for a fair amount of interest from customers and have seen those expectations met so far.
“That would probably be the most surprising part is just how well it’s been received, which I’m really happy about, and we did sense that there was something missing and that’s been true,” she said “That’s been surprising, I guess, is how fast it’s kind of gained interest and taken off and how much people really love the products.”
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