Dog Krazy, Leesburg, VA
OWNERS: Nancy and Chris Guinn
OPENED FEATURED STORE: 2018
EMPLOYEES: 8 full-time, 4 part-time
AREA: 2,800 square feet
FACEBOOK: dogkrazy INSTAGRAM: dogkrazy TWITTER: dogkrazyva
“It started with a Bulldog.”
Nancy Guinn says this whenever sharing the story of how she founded Dog Krazy.
“In 2006, I met my soulmate Piglet. I wanted to spend every day with her, and that’s what I did. The first store opened in 2006 and the second in 2015, the year she left this earth. From the time she was 6 months old to her passing, we spent every day working together.”
The English Bulldog continues to be a guiding force for Nancy.
“I want to spread my love for her by helping customers provide only the best products for their pets.”
Nancy now meets that goal in partnership with her husband, Chris, who joined the Virginia business full-time in 2015. They have since opened three more Dog Krazys, with the Leesburg location opening in 2018.
Dog Krazy + Lola’s Barkery
Like the other Dog Krazy stores, Leesburg features brand colors red, black, yellow and blue. They combine with exposed brick and ductwork, wooden floors, and pendant and twinkle lights to create a warm industrial vibe. The layout caters to all customers.
“The aisles are set up so that dogs who are selective, timid, overly excitable or fear-aggressive can come in, and the dog and owner can comfortably shop without worrying about another dog approaching too quickly,” Nancy explains. “We purposely added corners and aisles all over the store, so that owners whose dogs need more space can tuck them away from another dog (or owner) who doesn’t have the best manners.”
Leesburg boasts the company’s first on-site bakery, Lola’s Barkery. She chose the name for two reasons: Lola was Piglet’s puppy name, and Lola means “grandma” in Tagalog, a nod to Nancy and her mother’s Filipina heritage.
The couple chose the location, in the open-air center Village at Leesburg, because Nancy’s parents live nearby, and she wanted her mom, Maria Powell, to be involved in the business.
“She runs the barkery, and I do the decorating, so we get to spend more time together.”
Among the menu items are traditional bone-shaped treats and ready-made celebration cakes, but the mother-daughter team surprises and delights with creations such as Doggie Nachos, Ice Cream Sandwich and Hamburger with a Side of Fries. Their custom cakes also impress, with a recent one topped with “fettuccine” for birthday boy Alfredo. Nancy completed a 500-hour program to become a clinical pet nutritionist, so customers know they can trust the ingredients.
The Dog Krazy Way
Nancy handles product purchasing, human resources, bakery operations and marketing. Chris tackles finances, expansion and “everything and anything else the stores need,” she says.
Leesburg carries on the high standards the couple has set for all aspects of their company.
“No matter how much we grow, our values and why I started this business will always come first,” Nancy says.
“It’s not always about the bottom line,” Chris adds. “It has to do with what makes Dog Krazy so special and not losing that as we grow.”
The couple tests all products with their personal pets before adding them to inventory. Once approved, products are available in a variety of ways to suit all customer preferences: shopping in-store and online, the latter with pickup in-store, curbside, local delivery and free two-day shipping on orders $99 or more.
Marketing efforts also involve the Guinn family pets.
“All photos I use are of our pets, and I invite customers into our lives,” Nancy says. “I’ve been told multiple times that my marketing techniques show the heart and soul of our business, our pets.”
To announce the Leesburg opening, dogs Stirfry Fatguy, Pork Wonton, Sushi and Tala each wore a chalkboard sign around their neck with an existing Dog Krazy location name, with pig Jimmy Dean wearing a sign that said “Dog Krazy 5 Coming Soon!”
Grooming appointments at all five Dog Krazy stores are by two-hour appointment only.
“We groom our customers’ pets from start to finish so that they are not sitting in a kennel all day and so that they can get back to their owners as quickly as possible.”
All employees go through Whizbang Retail Sales Academy, and the couple recently created a training manager position and promoted from within.
“Her job will be to teach all new employees the Dog Krazy way, to make every customer feel like they are a part of our family,” Nancy says. “Because they are.”
Building on the Success of Leesburg
Lola’s Barkery and a recently added on-site bakery at the Stafford location provide treats and cakes to all Dog Krazys. When considering their next expansion, Chris looks to the newest store.
“It’s been successful, and our customers love it. When we open our next location, we’ll make sure that there’s enough space for a bakery in there as well.”
Five Cool Things About Dog Krazy
1. VIPP FB: Dog Krazy has one Facebook page for all of its locations, but it also invites customers to join the Very Important Pet Parents private group for their home store. Nancy says, “It helps us offer different specials at each location, to help with items that may sell well at one but not another, along with featuring items that we may have at one store but not another.”
2. 49 PERCENT: Nancy made her business relationship with Chris as official as their personal one earlier this year. “Dog Krazy had always been 100 percent owned by me. For his 40th birthday, I had a cake made that said ‘Happy 49.’ When he asked why, I told him I was signing over 49 percent of the company to him — my accountant said one of us had to keep 1 percent more.”
3. AWARDS GALORE: Dog Krazy won 2019 Best Multi-Unit Retailer at the Retailer Excellence Awards at Global Pet Expo and 2018-19 Retailer of the Year in the Marketing category at SuperZoo. The stores have also won multiple local “Best of” awards.
4. HAPPY STAFF: Nancy says, “I recently had an email from another business owner who said my store is one of the few places he frequents where every employee is genuinely happy to be there. It is the best compliment I have ever gotten.”
5. EXPANSION BEYOND DOG KRAZY: Look for Lola’s Barkery treats and cakes to be available wholesale in 2020.