LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Small business owners will tell you, it’s a dog-eat-dog environment in retail right now. Pressures come from online retailers and ever-growing corporate behemoths.
In that shadow, The Dog Bowl of West Little Rock is going out of business. The owner/operator said there’s too much red ink and not enough black ink on the ledgers.
“I thought this would be a terrific opportunity,” said Mike Catanach, who chuckles along with everyone that a man with cat in his name owns a shop specializing in gourmet dog treats and food. “I know that Little Rock loves their animals.”
Catanach and his mother set about providing gourmet bones, alumni doggy sweaters, and hand-crafted bowls to a market that does love their pets, but it has not been easy.
“It's a lot harder, especially in a smaller market like Little Rock," said Catanach. "But even the bigger markets like Dallas, I have friends that have businesses there, and they're having trouble.”
And as he looks for the exit, Catanach points the announcement just this week by Mars, a large candy corporation. The company is getting more into the pet care sector. They already own brands like Pedigree dog food.
Catanach thinks a local operator can do well, but he is sounding alarms as big corporate giants muscle into the pet sector.
“[Corporations] are going to be very biased. Whereas independents like myself can read the information, get the facts and help our customers.”
And Catanach has advice for other small business owners who will carry on: Be the loyal terrier in the fight with the lumbering giants.
“Focus on customer service,” he said. “Know that sometimes it's more important to make a customer than to make a sale.”
Just Dogs is a similar boutique in West Little Rock that is looking forward to the New Year. Owner Amy Dunnavant said the holiday season was very positive and a pleasant surprise after a disappointing 2015.
Claudia’s Canine Bakery, which manufactures locally made dog treats in Maumelle is also bullish on the new year. Co-owner Joe Steinberg said his optimism is based on the new administration in Washington and that he feels no threat from larger corporate operations.