Truffles cuddled up with Paws for Murder & Packer the bulldog
The Wonderful World of Pet Boutiques, by Annie Knox
I confess: despite hours and hours of research on pet boutiques, I am hard-pressed to explain their sudden allure. One would think that purveyors of pure luxury items would be hurting in an economy that is just bouncing back from a recession. But the bottom line is that high-end pet accessories are all the rage, with online retailers and brick and mortar stores popping up all over the place.
How does a boutique differ from the big box pet stores?
First, boutiques are less likely to carry the things you need for the day-to-day care of your pet. They may have cans of specialized cat pate, in flavors like rabbit or sockeye salmon, but they aren’t going to have jumbo-sized bags of kibble. And forget about cat litter. Boutiques are meant to supplement your pet care needs, not replace them.
The items carried by boutiques tend generally to be less practical and more aesthetic. In addition to clothing (sweater sets, seasonal dresses, and costumes), boutiques carry indulgent soaps and shampoos, crystal-studded collars, designer leather pet carriers (that look as good as any high end handbag), and a huge variety of pet jewelry (from bracelets to collar dangles and glitzy barrettes. These are items your pets don’t need—and may not want—but that give owners more of a chance to interact with their pet.
Many of the items are geared toward smaller dogs, the type of animal that is as much accessory as pet. But they offer gear for larger dogs and cats, too. In fact, some of the merchandise at a typical pet boutique will be aimed at pet-loving people (for example, pet-themed iPhone covers and ceramic figurines of your favorite breed).
Check out the selection on the website for this brick and mortar spa and boutique:
Perhaps the biggest difference between the big box stores and pet boutiques is the quality of the products you can purchase. You might be able to purchase a generic dog sweater at a big box store, but it will be mass-produced abroad. Pet boutiques carry handmade items. In fact, one of my friends who has pet rats recently found handmade pirate hats made specifically for rats, toads, and lizards. The little tiny hats are crocheted by hand and adorned with itty bitty skull and crossbones patches and exquisitely small blue feathers.
Once again, I’ll confess that I knew little about the variety, price, and quality of items sold at pet boutiques when I first started writing Paws for Murder. But as I researched this niche market more, I became impressed with the lengths people will go to for they companion animals!
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Synopsis: Izzy McHale wants her new Trendy Tails Pet Boutique in Merryville, Minnesota, to be the height of canine couture and feline fashions. But at the store’s opening, it turns out it’s a human who’s dressed to kill
Izzy’s own beloved pets are dressed to the nines for the grand opening of Trendy Tails. Feisty feline Jinx is large and in charge, and happy mutt Packer is lapping up the attention. Izzy and her best friend Rena have their hands full meeting Merryville’s menagerie and serving tasty pupcakes and kitty canapes from their “barkery.” The last thing they need is the town’s local activist, Sherry Harper, scaring off customers and getting tongues wagging by picketing the event.
The two manage to stop Sherry’s protest in its tracks, but the trouble for Trendy Tails is just beginning. Sherry is found murdered in back of the shop, and Rena is immediately named as the lead suspect. Now Izzy and her furry friends have a new pet project—collaring a killer.
Mochas, Mysteries and Meows Review: I confess, not much makes me happier than seeing pets dressed up in cute outfits (much to Truffles' chagrin), so the prospect of a Pet Boutique Mystery series was catnip for this cat lover's soul.
In Merryville, Minnesota, Izzy McHale is preparing to open her pet boutique Trendy Tails, with her best friend Rena in charge of the barkery (bakery). Local troublemaker Sherry Harper, who never met a picket sign she didn't like, decides to picket outside the boutique's front door during the grand opening. When Izzy takes the trash out to the dumpster following the party she finds Sherry dead in the alley. Fingers immediately point to Rena who had a questionable relationship with the victim years ago in Minneapolis. Izzy soon learns that Sherry's activism had angered many locals, but who was mad enough to kill?
Paws for Murder is filled with enjoyable characters. Favorites of mine include Aunt Dolly and Izzy's landlord Ingrid. (I always seem to be drawn to the quirky older ladies in cozies!) And Sherry's guinea pig Gandhi (who rides around in a baby sling) is a star in the making!
If you're a fan of fun mysteries, furry characters and fashion, this is a debut to get your paws on!
GIVEAWAY: Have you ever shopped at a pet boutique? Tell us about it by noon EST on January 10, and you will be entered to win a copy of Paws For Murder. U.S. entries only.
* I received a copy of this book from the publisher with the request for a review.