Inside of Whisker Bones Supply Co. in downtown Edwardsville, there is enough room for people to bring in their dogs, without knocking over merchandise. Owners Perry Patten and Scott Tripp purposely don’t overstock shelves.
Patten, 40, and husband Tripp, 42, of Glen Carbon opened the shop in April in order to sell organic treats baked for animals right in the shop. They also sell toys, bandanas, collars, pet food, along with some Christmas ornaments for pet owners, and drink supplements for pets. They do have human stuff as well, such as coffee and mugs.
The couple, who have been married since 2010, added pet grooming services in mid-November. They have hired a bather and a groomer and have a total of six employees. Patten and Tripp also plan to launch online sales in the future.
Patten and Tripp recently spoke to the Belleville News-Democrat about their business.
Q: Whose idea was it to open Whisker Bones?
A: Patten: “Probably both of ours. We have five dogs and couple of cats. Having that, you learn about animals and the needs for animals.”
A: Tripp: “We have one that is very sick. He needs a special diet and he can’t have preservatives or chemicals or any of that. That’s how the treats were born, which is what we wanted to focus on when we got started. We started baking treats for him.”
Q: What did you start off with?
A: Tripp: “Bakery. At our core we are a bakery, including our cupcakes, our doughnuts.”
A: Patten: “Dog birthday cakes, dog gotcha-day cakes, things like that. All this other stuff comes in around that … We want to be different, so we looked for the different things that you’re not going to find at PetSmart or PetCo or Walmart or anywhere else. For one thing we can’t compete with any of the big boxes and two, people want something different when they come here.”
Q: Some of the treats are labeled Sunday Dinner, Chip Diggity, Pupkin Pie, Unbelievable Greens. Is that what they’re based off of?
A: Patten: “Chip Diggity is a carob cookie. Carob is a vegetarian chocolate chip. It’s dog safe. This one is beef and peas, that’s why we call it Sunday Dinner. They are hard biscuits.”
A: Tripp: “We call them Milk Bone replacements. If you give your dog a MilkBone, not to bash them, but if you look at their label, there’s 30-plus ingredients on a MilkBone. On ours, there’s six to eight.”
Q: Where do you make all your treats?
A: Tripp: “Right in the back … We just remodeled to get grooming in there. The whole back was the kitchen but when we added grooming, we realized quickly we didn’t need all that room, so it worked out great. So we have a grooming room and a kitchen. We bake it all right here. We have a baker … We bake treats and cakes and custom cakes right here. We have two really large ovens that are usually going all the time.”
Q: What was the reason for adding grooming?
A: Patten: “People were asking for it, and then having five dogs of our own, and going to different grooming places and you have to leave your dog there all day long. You drop them off at 8 or 9 in the morning and they call you at 4 or 5 in the afternoon to come pick them up, they’re not getting water, they’re not being let out to go to the bathroom, they’re just sitting in the kennel. So we wanted it be an in house. We wanted to it be where you come in, drop your dog off, we do your dog, and you take him home. It’s not going to be an all day long. It’s stressful for the dog to be in the kennel, it’s stressful to be in here. As soon as they walk in the door they’re freaked out already … We want the stress to be lighten on them. In general it’s about two hours to wash and dry and get everything done.”
Q: Why did you decide on locating in Edwardsville?
A: Tripp: “Edwardsville, I think, has an interesting demographic, especially right where we are. We get college kids, so we get young (people), we also have an affluent customer base that’s not too far from us, but we’re also centrally located from Bethalto, those people coming, they don’t have to go to PetSmart or a Pet Co. They could come here, they could get food get the things they need. When we were looking we really wanted to be downtown.. We really liked Edwardsville, we liked downtown. I think it’s really our vibe.”
Q: How is a dog supposed to eat a birthday cake, or a gotcha-day cake? Is it like a smash cake for a 1-year-old child?
A: Tripp: “We have seen that … Customers will let them (dogs) go at it, but a lot of times they will just cut them up. It’s a lot denser. It’s not going to feel like a cake because we don’t use a lot of baking powder or baking soda. A lot of people will just cut it up and they’ll just freeze it, and take it out in slices.”
Q: What is your philosophy when it comes to the food you make and sell?
A: Tripp: “We want to make sure we’re not introducing chemicals. I think that’s what people get when they come here. They get an assurance we’ve chosen stuff we believe in, we may not have a ton of everything, but the stuff we have, we really believe in. We carry a food call Verus that we really believe in. We just have a problem with distribution with them. They’re only carried on the East Coast. They ship just to us, they’re very slow, it’s hard to keep it in stock…. So we’re looking for a replacement. But it’s a holistic food. So we want to find a holistic food to replace it with.”
Q: The business has exceeded its goals it set. When you started this, where were you supposed to be in December?
A: Tripp: “We hoped for $150,000 (in total gross sales) our first year. We are on track for almost $400,000.”
A: Patten: “My assumption next year is we’ll double where we’re at.”
At a glance
Whisker Bones is at 138 N. Main St. in Edwardsville. For more information call 618-593-3603 or go to whiskerbones.com.
- Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.