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The Latest Pet Humanization Trend - Dog Food Trucks

 
The pet humanization trend has been going strong over the past few years. While pet owners continue humanizing pets, the pet industry has been responding. From higher pet food standards to more "humane" pet habitats, pet supply manufacturers are keeping up with the trend in order to keep up with sales. 
 
With so many manufacturers following along with the trend of consumers humanizing their pets, it's only natural that retailers should follow along as well. So, if you're a pet retailer looking to follow along with this particular long-term trend, maybe think along the lines of...adding wheels to your store?
 
 
While it may sound silly, that's essentially what The Seattle Barkery did. Only the coolest of humans buy their meals at food trucks, so it's only natural that the coolest of dogs should too. The hip dog food truck, located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, knew exactly what they should do in order to cater to pet owner's desire to treat their pets like children.
 
 
Maybe you don't want to open a dog food truck, but there's still a great amount to learn from this unique business model that you may be able to apply to your own pet store. In order to help you get the inside scoop on this new and popular pet retail trend, we talked with Ben and Dawn Ford, the owners of The Seattle Barkery, and here's what we found out:
 
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Ashley Hoffman: What have you noticed seems to be the average age group of shoppers who routinely come to your truck (Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, ect.)
The Seattle Barkery: Gen X are the biggest supporters/shoppers of The Barkery! Usually don't have children and LOVE to spoil their fur children.
 
AH: What do you think attracts Generation X the most about your company?
SB: That has been a hard question to answer.  Why do we as PNWesterners love our pets as much as we do?  There are probably many contributing factors but I think we've seen a shift in how much we care for our four legged friends.  There are so many activities you can do with your dog around Seattle now.  We are happy to add one more fun activity you can incorporate with your pup and make it a fun destination.
 
AH: According to the calendar on your website, you're always set up somewhere. How long did it take you to make those connections?
SB: It was a slow start, this new concept was a confusing sell to some but once word spread it has gotten to where they are asking us not the other way around!
 
AH: What is the average day in the life of the owner of The Seattle Barkery?
SB: Early mornings (3 or 4am) to bake all our treats fresh for the day, usually 1-3 cakes to make per day as well. A lot of planning, stocking, cleaning, goes into the daily behind the scenes operations of The Barkery. If you have two events in one day you need to bake enough for a double but we've been in a situation where we've sold out of all treats at our first event leaving us scrambling to bake as quick as possible so we don't go to our second event empty handed. Some would say that is a good problem to have but we don't want to disappoint our doggie customers!
 
AH: Most of what your selection is includes homemade baked goods - what seems to be your top seller?
SB: We have changed our menu a number of times, removing the treats that don't sell, adding in more primal options like duck neck, chicken hearts--we think we have something for every furry taste bud--but our biggest sellers always seem to be the Bacon Pupcake & Mini Cheezy Donuts.
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AH: Where did you get recipes/ideas for these awesome treats? 
SB: It was a lot of trial and error with our own dogs, two of which are extremely picky pekingese--once we got their approvals we knew we were golden!
 
AH: These treats seem very fattening - are they actually good for dogs to eat?
SB: Our treats are all simple ingredients. We of course are concerned about our own dogs health so we don't want to fill them up with fatty foods everyday. Our only treats that would be "fatty" would be the most popular bacon pupcake & mini cheezy donuts. Our other treats are all very good health options. The turkey patty is just organic turkey & flaxseed. Our primal options: chicken feet, chicken hearts, duck neck & duck feet are all air fried in a very small amount of coconut oil and that is it. All of our treats are also grain free which was the biggest request we had once we opened.
 
AH: Since you're in a new location almost every day, how do you keep your customers coming back?
SB: Social Media is the biggest way for customers to find us, we have requests to go to more and more cities which we love meeting new people and letting them experience the Barkery--but we also have a few regular spots that we frequent weekly: Edmonds Dog Beach & Dogwood Play Park. We are hoping to open a small brick & mortar this Fall/Winter to run alongside the truck so people will always have a place to come see us!
 
AH: According to Facebook you opened in 2014 - what gave you the idea to start a dog food truck?
SB: We have always been a dogcentric family and have always tried to think of ideas that would allow us to make a living at something we actually love doing.  Before the Barkery, we both were dog walkers here in Seattle which was fun and rewarding but after five years, we reached our ceiling and decided it was time for something new.  Dawn was always in the kitchen cooking up "batches" of crock pot recipes that would last throughout the week.  One thing led to another and after many recalls on unregulated, store bought treats, often produced in another country, we decided that we could do it better.  The original thought was to find a "ice cream truck" but it quickly snowballed into what you see now and continues to evolve.
 
 
AH: What was the biggest lesson you've learned since opening about the business? Maybe something you thought you knew/expected, but was maybe proved wrong, if anything?
SB: The dogs will be your toughest critics.  They'll be brutally honest with you if they don't like something.  We've tinkered with our recipes over the past year and feel like we've got some real winners and we let the dogs speak (bark) for themselves.  Also, the Winter months can be tough as not as many are out and about but we've found a lot of our regulars that way too.  The die hards that will come out and find us in the pouring rain!
 
AH: Are you considering going into any other markets, such as cat treats, for example, in the future? 
SB: We've dabbled in a few different cat treat recipes.  We had dehydrated sardine flakes for a while but found that cats can be quite a bit more picky than the dogs.  We've got plenty on our plate right now, but could definitely see serving cats soon!  Dawn made her first birthday cake for "Cherry" not long ago and it was a huge hit! 
 
The Seattle Barkery is a great example of a retailer keeping up with the trend of humanizing our pets. They have a large and ever-growing social media following who keep up with where the dog food truck is going to be next. Feel free to check out their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for inspiration.
 
Want to learn more about them? Visit their website here!
 
Do you feel you're doing something unique to follow this trend? Contact us and let us know what you're doing - you could be featured in an upcoming article!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Hoffman – E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager joined the All Points family in April of 2015. Ashley brings a fresh outlook to the marketing industry as well as a constant desire for learning something new. She is dedicated to consistently improving her skills and efficiency in the marketing industry and using those skills to promote APM and all brands we represent. Ashley has grown up with many animals throughout her life and is currently the loving owner of two cats.

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