There’s plenty of food on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair, but nearly all of it is for humans. So a few years ago a St. Louis Park couple created something for our canine friends.
Amy and Tony Waara, who own The Dog Perk in St. Louis Park, came up with the dog biscuit on a stick, a simple enough creation that features a homemade dog biscuit on a rawhide skewer.
The dog biscuit on a stick debuted in 2008, and the Waaras sold a respectable 150 or so. But when the doggy treat made the blue ribbon coupon book a year later, business really exploded.
“We baked 400 and went in on the first day with 50,” Tony Waara said, “(and) there were literally people with coupons everywhere. I’m on the phone with Amy saying, ‘Bring everything.’”
Amy Waara did bring everything, but that was far from enough. She went back home and, with help from a neighbor, baked at a fever pitch. When the 2009 fair was over, the Waaras had sold roughly 10,000 dog biscuits on a stick.
This year, the Waaras are more prepared for the coupon-carrying masses; they have 5,000 biscuits baked and ready to go. But the couple also has seen another facet of their business really strive at the fair.
The Dog Perk’s specialty—and what it emphasizes in online sales—are dog bandanas. The pooch accessories come in a variety of colors, and many feature funny phrases, such as “Mailman: The Breakfast of Champions” and “Woof-da.” The Waaras said they now have upward of 140 unique designs, including a rescue and adoption line that they sell to local shelters at a reduced rate.
With these on display at the fair, Tony Waara said it’s easy to get people to swing by The Dog Perk’s booth in the Pet Building.
“They stop in their tracks and start laughing,” he said.
The Dog Perk will be at the fair all 12 days. The Waaras hope it also gives their growing business a big boost going forward. Last year, they had $125,000 in sales. This year’s goal is $200,000 and Tony Waara said he soon hopes to be at $1 million in annual sales.
“We’ve barely even scratched where this business can go,” he said.
Are you a St. Louis Park resident going for a blue ribbon? Or selling a homemade item? Or marching in a parade? Or performing on stage? Whatever your connection to the fair, we want to hear from you! Email story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.