* This article originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer.
Check out the latest fashions at Dogma & Fetch: polo shirts in sherbet colors, beribboned halter tops with matching caps, snappy cargo shorts. Need something more formal? Try a pinstripe shirt with tie, or a leopard-print shirt with faux-fur collar.
One catch: all the clothing is size small. As in small dog.
Dogma & Fetch, 45 N. Congress St. in York, opened this month as the ultimate shopping stop for small-breed pooches.
“Some people refer to us as the dog version of Abercrombie and Fitch,” said co-owner Kenny Childers.
Everything you need to pamper your dog is here. Fruit & Passion eau de toilette. Terrycloth wraps for après-bath. Bowwow butter balm for dry, cracked noses. Earthbath oatmeal and aloe shampoo. Hot-pink, feather-boa leashes. Collars with “Stud” printed all around. All-natural dog food, including the “Turducken” entrée. The book “Yoga for Dogs” and a CD entitled “Music to Soothe the Animal Spirit.”
Next to the cash register is a food case with doggy snacks that look so good you want to eat them yourself: cranberry mini-muffins, pizza slices, carob-covered pretzels, doughnuts, frosted brownies.
If you do need a snack, head over to the “Canine Café,” where people can buy frappucinos, bottled water, danish and cookies. Tucked into the front of the store are tables and chairs, with a water dish for your canine friend.
Yes, you can bring your pooch into the store. “As long as they’re on a leash or in your arms, dogs are allowed,” said Jordan Garrett, the store’s other owner.
Frani Pisak of York was shopping in Dogma & Fetch last week. “I had to come in after I saw an ad for the store,” she said. Pisak has two golden retrievers, Barney and Neo.
Pisak bought doggy cookies shaped like chicken bones, a toy for a friend’s dog, a golden retriever Euro sticker and a sticker that says “My Dog Digs York, SC.”
“I love this one,” Pisak said.
Garrett and Childers opened YTown Pets in 2002 as a traditional pet store. They had always wanted to focus on small dogs, but weren’t sure the concept would work. “Then we tested the market and realized it could fly,” Childers said.
So they closed YTown Pets at the end of June and started renovations.
The store’s walls are now painted warm plum, olive and orange. Three plasma TVs are always on, playing dog movies like “Benji,” “Good Boy” and “Shiloh.” Behind a glass wall are cages containing Chihuahuas, dapple dachshunds and other puppies for sale. “It’s healthier for the puppies to be behind glass,” Garrett said. “It keeps them from being exposed to too many germs.”
The store is already attracting customers from Gastonia, Lake Wylie and south Charlotte.
“All our products, no matter if it’s the treats, the shampoo, whatever, are all-natural, no preservatives, no chemicals,” Garrett said. “That was the most important thing.”
What’s next? Well, the fall items are starting to arrive, including – you guessed it -- Halloween costumes: bees, ladybugs, fairies, cowboys and even pirates.