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Pet perks

Pet perks generate revenue for Salem Animal Rescue League

Union Leader Correspondent

March 30. 2014 4:10PM
Salem Animal Rescue League staff members Kristi Whitford, D.J. Bettencourt and Tiffany Martin showed off the latest pet wares this week inside the shelter's new Pawsitively Unique Boutique, which opened March 22. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)

SALEM — With a brand new pet boutique now up and running, the Salem Animal Rescue League can be considered a one-stop-shop for adopters seeking that special something to take home with their new family member.

The Pawsitively Unique Boutique, located in a small room on the premises of the Salem nonprofit off Route 28, held its grand opening on March 22.

D.J. Bettencourt, SARL's director of development and community relations, said opening an on-site store is one of several ways the organization is bracing itself for what may lay ahead.

For the past several years, SARL has been earning between $45,000 to $55,000 annually from charitable gaming at nearby Rockingham Park.

Following the recent House defeat of two bills that would have approved expanded gaming in the Granite State, many fear the former racetrack's future is now uncertain.

"There's a sad possibility that the park could close," Bettencourt said on Tuesday. "And if it does, in fact, end up closing, we'd stand to lose a steady stream of revenues."

Bettencourt said a recent series of successful fundraisers allowed SARL to stock up on inventory for the site's new boutique.

"Our intention isn't to compete with pet stores in the area, but to offer more specialized items that are harder to find," he added.

Among the items featured at the Pawsitively Unique Boutique are pet toys, shampoos, treats, accessories and home décor items geared towards fans of the furry and four-legged.All of the items sold in the store are made in the U.S., with special emphasis on goods made in New England.

A full line of Purina pet food items are also being sold at the boutique, and Bettencourt said the plan is to offer special incentives for frequent purchasers.

Other store offerings, like canvas martingale collars, are in response to the frequent demands of pet adopters. The adjustable, cinch-fitted collars are regularly used to walk dogs at the shelter, Bettencourt said, and new pup parents frequently ask shelter staff if they can bring the collars home with their new pet.

"They're very much in demand because it's so hard for dogs to slip out of them," he added.

The store also carries new-pet starter kits. A kit for new cat owners, for example, contains a litter pan, scoop, kitty litter and a couple small toys.

On opening day, pet boutique sales were approximately $1,000, shelter officials said. It costs approximately $1,400 per day to operate SARL, according to Bettencourt.

The Pawsitively Unique Boutique is open to the general public during the shelter's regular operating hours, which are Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m., Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

SARL isn't the first Granite State animal shelter to venture into the retail business.

At the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire in Bedford, the For Pets Sake store has been in operation since 1998, according to Danielle Snyder, director of behavioral health for ARLNH.

While the Bedford shop does yield a small annual profit for the shelter, Snyder said its main purpose is intended to be a convenience for families about to bring home their latest family member.

The store features items like dog leashes, collars, pet food, cat litter and toys.

"We have the things pet owners might need when they're adopting that day," she said.

As an added incentive, those adopting a pet at ARLNH are treated to a 15 percent discount off store items the day they bring their animal home.

"The idea is they can go home and not have to stop at the store on the way home," Snyder said. "The bonding can begin right away."

For Pet's Sake, located inside the Route 101 animal shelter, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 7 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

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