With her beloved bulldog as her inspiration, Nancy Guinn has Dog Krazy on the move again.
The Fredericksburg-based regional pet store chain expects to open its sixth location on Aug. 1 at 3520 Pump Road in Henrico in the Short Pump Crossing shopping center.
It will be the company’s second shop in the Richmond region, joining one at 3310 W. Cary St. in Carytown. The others are in the Fredericksburg area and Leesburg.
Guinn signed leases for the new 3,000-square-foot Short Pump space and a larger 10,000-square-foot space in Spotsylvania in February, just prior to the pandemic’s arrival.
Unable to get out of the leases, Guinn said she had no choice but to work harder and keep her business alive. That effort has been fueled by a spike and expansion of the 14-year-old company’s online business prompted by coronavirus.
“We’ve been open 14 years now, and I’ve never worked this hard in my entire life,” Guinn said.
Early in the quarantine, some anxious pet owners stockpiled a year’s worth of food, Guinn said. In April, Dog Krazy had massive spikes in puppy food and toy sales, as well as puppy-related emails from pet owners.
Online sales are up more than 1,100 percent year-over-year from January to mid-July, Guinn said, and Dog Krazy’s Carytown location accounted for around 60 percent of that increase.
Guinn ran online orders from the back of one of her stores but soon, orders were stacked to the ceiling. That prompted her to rent a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Fredericksburg, since she doesn’t expect online demand to disappear anytime soon.
Dog Krazy offers free delivery on orders of $35 or more to homes within 30 miles of any store in 24 to 48 hours.
Guinn had the company’s two delivery vans customized to bear a remarkable resemblance to a bulldog, inspired by her precious Piglet, a bulldog she calls the love of her life and the dog of her dreams.
Guinn always wanted to be a mother, but she said she couldn’t bear a child in her previous marriage after trying in vitro fertilization six times. She then wanted to get a bulldog but was turned down several times when trying to rescue one because she already had five dogs, plus others she fostered. Guinn finally found a bulldog breeder, and was there for Piglet’s birth and every day after until she took her home at 6 weeks old.
“I’ve never loved anything like I love her,” Guinn said. “(My husband) knows. He understands.”
At the time, Guinn worked in billing at a dentist’s office, and her boss let her bring Piglet to work with her every day. When her boss changed his mind after four months, Guinn put in her two weeks’ notice.
Coincidence and Guinn’s love for Piglet led her to start Dog Krazy in 2006. She said while visiting her favorite dog store in downtown Fredericksburg at the time, the owner put a store-closing sign in the window. After talking with the store owner, Guinn took over the business and the first Dog Krazy was born.
She got the store’s name from her license plate, which used to read “DOGKRZY.” It now reads “4PIGLET.”
Guinn’s heart broke when she learned Piglet had a tumor, and though she and her husband moved homes to be closer to the animal hospital, Guinn decided to put Piglet to sleep in the store at age 10 in 2016.
Now, Piglet stays close with her, and not just in memory. Guinn said she and her husband have her pet’s ashes in their wedding rings.
Piglet’s legacy also lives on upon the shelves of other pet stores. The bulldog is the face of a pumpkin latte for dogs created by Guinn that’s sold in natural pet food stores. Guinn said she came up with the product not for the money but to get Piglet’s face on the package.
“For me, it’s not about the money; it’s about the dogs,” Guinn said. “If you go into any natural pet food store like mine, I’m 75 percent sure you’ll see Piglet’s face somewhere in that store. And that means more to me than any amount of money will ever mean to me.”