Unique accessories drawing customers to Wags
13 year old Mike Bublick of Deerfield gets to know Gizmo, a rescue dog from Orphans of the Storm, at Wags on Willow on Saturday, June 9, 2012 in Northbrook. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2012 6:24AM
Wags on Willow, which appeals to owners of breeds from West Highland Terriers to Weimaraners, is becoming a popular shop among canine and cat aficionados.
Although the upscale Northbrook pet boutique at 840 Willow Road has been in business only eight months, it seems destined for success.
Dog and cat lovers have discovered that the shop stocks not only brands of food that aren’t at the super markets or pet food chains, but it also has hard-to-find items like auto seat belts and life jackets for pets on the go.
The pet food brands customers may chose from include: California Natural, EVO, Merrick and Wellness, as well as too many more to list.
“Being near Whole Foods has worked out well, because people who want quality foods for themselves, also want quality foods for their dogs and cats,” said Mary Bowler, the business’s owner.
“In fact, business has been even better than I had hoped and the feedback from our customers has been so positive that we are adding grooming service by August.”
The most popular items in the store are a “unique” assortment of collars and leashes, which customers say that can’t find anywhere else around, Bowler said.
The store’s variety of treats also have made a big hit with the four-footed customers, she added.
“We also get a lot of requests, which we try to fulfill, so we also are noted for our service,” Bowler said.
Part of that was hiring personnel who had experience in pet-related fields, Assistant Manager Jan Johnson of Arlington Heights and Sales and Customer Service Specialist Maggie Lantz of Morton Grove.
“Their knowledge has helped us meet the needs of the local community, which has been our been our goal. That is why the community members want us, an independent business, to succeed.”
And Bowler stresses that she is big on hosting community events such as adoption efforts by Orphans of the Storm and Midwest Lab Rescue, as well as other organizations.
“That is just being part of the community,” she added.
Bowler, a licensed realtor with Coldwell Banker who had been working as an agent in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, changed her carer focus to become part of the community when she noticed that Northbrook lacked a pet boutique.
“We also did due diligence and had a market survey conducted that confirmed the hunch. Then I and my silent partner, my husband Joe Greenberg, an attorney at Walgreens in Deerfield, went into business hoping for the best,” Bowler said.
Grace Yoon, an owner of Stella and Grace, a women’s apparel shop at 1879 Tower Drive in Glenview, said she likes Wags, because it carries items that she previously had to shop all over to find.
“It is friendly and personal, and my dog gets along well with Mary’s pug, Sushi,” Bowler said.
“But I also come here because my dog, Rory, a six-month-old shepherd-mix I adopted four months ago, deserves the best, and Wags has the best.”