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Critters In Couture

By | 2013-09-12T09:00:00-04:00 September 12th, 2013|Guides, Pets|

Our canine companions are taking over the world of fashion. Stylish clothes, creative costumes, functional travel gear and accessories are flying off retailer shelves helping pet owners to keep their furry friends in fashion throughout the year.
We dress them up for warmth, to protect them, to bond with them – or to create a miniature version of ourselves. Whatever the reason, local pet supply stores are making it easy to provide the best for our beloved pets.
“We were determined to create a resource for pets and their companions while supporting local businesses and the community,” said Sean Robinson, who co-owns Groovy Paws in Saugatuck with his husband Chuck. The couple left Washington, D.C. to move back to their roots in the Midwest settling where they are closer to family and friends, and are able to provide a better life for their dogs, Sparky and Rusty.
“We are committed to only selling the highest quality products that are made in the U.S. Up-Country and Mimi-Green are two of our favorite collar makers. They always have fun, new designs. Up-Country hand-makes their collars in Rhode Island and they partnered with us to create a one-of-a-kind Saugatuck collar exclusive to Groovy Paws. As a small company, they understand working with independent retailers to provide the best product at a reasonable price,” said Robinson.
With fall right around the corner, Robinson said people are looking for coats and sweaters to outfit their dogs. “We carry coats by Barka’s Parkas in Indiana. They use repurposed fabrics whenever possible so not only are they sustainably produced, but it means that almost every coat is one of a kind. We love working with Barka’s Parkas because they will custom design a coat to fit the pup, rather than forcing buyers to purchase a small or medium and trying to make it work,” he said. “If you have ever tried to find a coat that will fit a Whippet with the long slender body, you understand that a typical large or extra-large coat just doesn’t cut it. They understand the importance of a coat fitting like a glove.”
The autumn season is the perfect time for knitted pullovers, waterproof jackets and fuzzy sweaters. But many pet owners look forward to Halloween when they can dress up their pet in funny or cute costumes and show them off in pet parades.
“I enjoy dressing Helen up because she is so darn cute. I love to photograph her so I can always hold on to the memories,” said Amber Scholtz of Lake Orion about her 6-and-a-half-year-old American Longhair cat. “What I don’t enjoy about dressing her up is that she is very uncooperative. She really doesn’t enjoy it.”
Whether they like it or not, Lynn Kemmer of Sterling Heights keeps her dogs fashionable with an array of coats, T-shirts, dresses and holiday wear. Siblings Lucy, 5, and Ethyl, 6, are Poochi’s, a cross between a Poodle and a Chihuahua. “We like to dress them up because it’s funny to see how they react to different outfits – and the reactions you get from people,” said Kemmer.
Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills carries many different types of Halloween costumes. But it’s the handmade creative costumes that owner Mike Palmer likes the best. “Our store is full of both hard-to-find items and the staples for all pets with a focus on natural and holistic,” Palmer said.
When asked about the wildest fashion statement he’s seen, Palmer remembers a smaller Poodle with her hair dyed purple and her nails done. “That may be too outrageous for some, but it may be a form of self-expression. Sometimes people don’t have the guts to dress a certain way and dogs aren’t self-conscious like we are.”
Established in 1992 by Palmer’s uncle Ray Hesano, Premier Pet Supply is one of the highest-volume independently owned pet supply stores in the Midwest. Always an advocate for buying local, Palmer has made a concerted effort to carry any and every product available that’s made in Michigan. He and his staff are highly involved in community outreach. Low-cost vaccination clinics, among other events, are occasionally offered to raise money for local animal shelters in need.
A popular item at his store currently is the vest-style harness, which comes in fleece, many prints like plaid, and may even be bedazzled with bling. “It’s a nice looking item that is soft, breathable and more comfortable. It’s better for the dog with great functionality,” Palmer said.
Even when our economy took a turn for the worse, pet owners continued to spend money, according to Palmer. “People treat their pets better than they treat themselves these days. If it’s done in a humane way and it makes them happy, it’s justified.”

Groovy Paws
131 Mason St.
(269) 857-1227
Mon. – Thurs. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Fri. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun. 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Premier Pet Supply
31215 Southfield Road
Beverly Hills
(248) 647-4310
Mon. – Sat. 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sun. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

About the Author:

Kate Opalewski
Kate Opalewski is BTL's features editor and has been since 2015. She has covered a variety of topics ranging from art, politics and community outreach. Recently, she was honored by the Detroit Police Department LGBT Advisory Board for her work for the local LGBTQIA community.