Although Woofables, The Gourmet Dog Bakery in Coralville, Iowa, sells dog food, it has the light scent of a real bakery. Owner Laura Taylor, who used to work in marketing, now spends her days crafting handmade treats for canines out of all-natural, all-human-grade ingredients.
While frosting a cake, Taylor explains that everything made in the store can be eaten by people; they’ll just think it tastes bland. Salt is unhealthy for dogs, so items are flavored with pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Frosting is made with carob and yogurt and tastes like white chocolate.
“My kids like to come in the kitchen area and eat the carob chips whole because they taste so good,” Taylor laughs.
She also mentions that customers tell her the doggy truffles taste like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Most treats look like small gingerbread cookies and are sold in bulk from a long table in the center of the shop, resembling the produce aisle at a grocery store. They retail for $9.49 per pound, and Taylor says they’re the store’s best-seller.
Taylor bought the six-and-a-half-year-old store two months ago. She previously considered baking a hobby, but now makes her living creating and selling bakery treats for dogs.
Former owner Lara Moore, who still works at the store part time, calls the goodies “extra special treats,” because even though they’re all natural, they should be given to dogs in moderation. The carob in the frosting contains sugar, so dogs shouldn’t eat them every day.
Taylor says that dogs benefit from an all natural diet because they’ll have more energy, a healthier coat, and improved health. A lot of canines suffer from digestive problems, which can be aided by a better diet.
“They’re just like us,” she said. “The better we eat, the better we feel.”
The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have as strict guidelines concerning grade and cleanliness for traditional dog food compared to human food, Taylor also explains. Woofables is licensed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Twice a year, the store’s process and ingredients are inspected.
One of her goals for the already established business is to expand the wholesale and online sales. Taylor is launching a new website within a few weeks that will allow users to buy online.
Currently, the wholesale side of the business sells to four stores. One of those outlets, Brown Dog Bakery in Des Moines, previously purchased items from as far away as Indiana and Colorado.
“There are not a lot of places like ours around here,” Taylor says. “No other places around here make handmade items.”
Another goal for the business is to streamline and improve efficiency with baking because, currently, the process is entirely manual. Taylor — and a few helpers — bake the items by hand, but that process will be hard to maintain with Taylor’s expansion goals in mind.
Safe Toys for Doggy Playtime
Woofables also offers dog toys, some of which are from earth-friendly companies. Simply Fido stuffed animals, ranging from $15.99 to $21.99, are made from all-organic fabrics and all-natural dyes.
Moore says the company sends all the toys through a UV filter before they’re sold, in order to kill bacteria caused by the handling process. They’re also sent through a metal detector to catch any sewing needles that might have been left behind.
Flat Katz stuffed animals, which use organic cotton and soybean fabrics, retail for $10.99. Biodegradable doggie deposit bags are also offered.
Taylor says dogs are welcome to shop with their owners and mostly visit on the weekends, though a few stopped in on a Wednesday afternoon. She anticipates that business will pick up significantly for the holiday season.
“I’m expecting the Christmas rush to last right up until Christmas, since people usually shop for their pets last,” she says.
Order from Woofables
Woofables is located at 1801 2nd St Suite 270 Coralville IA 52241. Customers may place orders over the phone by calling the store at 319.351.9663 or by sending an email to the store.
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