If You’ve Never Had a Dog

As I walked the main strip in Skaneateles, New York, I stopped at 62 E. Genesee Street, at a tack shop called “Gallop On Saddlery.” Tucked in the back of the store was an upstart business called “Aristocats and Dogs,” a specialized pet boutique with unique treats, food, clothing and more for your pet. The flash bulbs (pun intended) went off in my head as I thought of a way to augment my photography income and help this fledgling business at the same time.  Friedrich

After introducing myself to Peter and Hillary Whitmore, the pet store’s original owners, I asked if they would be interested in offering pet photography sessions right in their store. I would provide a special photo package for a set fee, and they, in return, would provide a place for a temporary studio. They would also receive a percentage of the total photography sales at their shop, and delivery of the photo packages would be at their boutique.

You might be wondering about how many people would be interested in spending money on a portrait of their pet. In a nutshell: MANY! If you’ve never had a dog, you won’t understand this, but your dog or cat, or any other animal that you’ve brought into your domicile, will slowly, but surely, capture not only a living space, but also a part of your heart.

Be forewarned, that should you decide to become a dog owner, your life will be enriched and you’ll rue the day that you have to take your dog for his last ride to the veterinarian. In my case, Muffin, Tinkerbell, José, and Friedrich, have all brought unconditional love, happiness, and comfort into my life and tears to my eyes when they made that final journey from this life into the next.

I’ve taken the time to write about the emotional attachment that we pet owners have for our animal family members because it ties in directly to the very reasons why we will gladly part with our money for anything pet-related, including portraits. Noted here is the fact that Aristocats and Dogs grew to the point of taking over not only the tack shop, but then expanded into the square footage of the adjacent store.

Here’s how to get into this lucrative pet portrait business:

  • Decide what package you’ll offer and for what price. Keep it simple: one package, one price.
  • List all of the potential places where you might present this promotional event. Independent shop owners are better than franchise stores. Veterinarians should be included in your list.
  • Get a sample or two to show your prospect. These can be your own pet’s portraits or look around your neighborhood. Hear any barking?
  • Approach the shop in person! People like to deal with people.
  • Stress the benefits for the venue you’ve chosen. Include the increased traffic and potential sales for the shop. You’ll automatically double the traffic for anyone who comes to the shop for their pet’s portrait because delivery will be back at the same venue.
  • Offering a percentage of sales compensates owners for studio space.
  • Make this a limited offering; two or three days or up to a week will work.

Dave and Ann Neibert have taken over proprietorship of Aristocats and Dogs. Visit them here: https://www.facebook.com/Aristocats-and-Dogs-Pet-Boutique-110972398977911/ and tell them Tony sent you, recently inspired by Friedrich, his daughter’s Belgian Malinois (portrait above) to write this blog. We miss him, and he will live in our hearts as well as in his professional portrait, forever.