Jenny the pug from Jenny’s Pet Food on Mill Street is quickly becoming a media sensation.
Owners – of Jenny and the pet store – Brent and Connie Poulton have come up with a brilliant idea to fill a gap in the pet apparel market: ugly Christmas sweaters for dogs.
“There’s a lot of Christmas stuff for dogs,” Poulton explained, as he pointed out the Santa outfits and Christmas toys that he carries in Jenny’s Pet Food.
But there weren’t any Christmas sweaters for our canine friends.
As the ugly Christmas sweater trend has grown exponentially over the past several years, Brent realized that “we could do that for dogs!”
So he and Connie started to sketch out some potential sweater designs, each with funny or adorable dog-themes to them.
And they quickly decided that they had to make matching ones for people, too. “It was kind of a no-brainer,” Brent said.
Last year, they started the sweater company Funky Tails on a small scale, with just five designs.
“We didn’t want to risk too much and have it completely fail,” Brent laughed.
They sent their sketches to a graphic designer and then had the sweaters produced in various sizes for dogs and their human owners.
Brent split his time between running the store and travelling around presenting the sweaters to retailers, and he soon realized that people either get the ugly Christmas sweater trend right away, or not at all.
“There was no ‘maybe’ middle ground,” Brent recalled. Retailers either said an immediate “Yes!” or a puzzled, “I don’t think so.”
Roughly 35 retailers jumped on board to sell the Funky Tails Christmas sweaters in 2014, and this year that number has more than doubled. Over 70 stores across Canada – and one in the United States – are currently selling these tacky sweaters, and FunkyTails.com sells and ships them worldwide.
As customers filtered in and out of the store to have playtime with Jenny and pick up a few things, Brent displayed the now eight various Christmas designs that they carry, which range from crude to cute.
“Coming up with the sweater ideas and the names is fun,” Brent said. “And the ideas come from things that dogs do.”
The ‘Time for Treats’ design, which Brent and Jenny were wearing, shows a dog chasing after a gingerbread man that he’s already taken a bite out of.
‘Turdogen’ shows a dog with its head inside of a turkey. They even have sweaters for those misbehaving dogs who pee on the family Christmas tree.
Their various themes, colours and sizes appeal to a broad range of customers. They also produce Easter options for April, and are considering Thanksgiving and Halloween sweaters in the future.
Clearly, the trend is catching on. Funky Tails is getting international exposure, including a CBC News television bit.
Check out the sweaters online at funkytails.com or stop by Jenny’s Pet Food at 9369 Mill Street.
For the record: The print version of this story included incorrect prices of the sweaters. We apologize if this caused any inconvenience.