Market Street in Camp Hill is home to many small businesses, restaurants and boutiques. On March 12, Camp Hill officially welcomed Urban Tails Pet Treats & Stuff to its cozy downtown neighborhood.
Visitors to HBG Flea might recognize the name, Urban Tails was a vendor for a few months before opting to open a brick-and-mortar store.
The store is owned by married couple Michael and Emily Ferguson. Emily maintains her full-time job as an executive assistant for a financial firm in New York City while she handles the behind the scenes parts of running the boutique. Husband Michael is in the store overseeing its day-to-day operations.
The idea for Urban Tails came from Michael’s desire to do something that was less physically demanding than his previous painting business. “I said, ‘let’s do something that’s not so physically taxing,’” says Michael. From there, the two started brainstorming. “She said, ‘well, you’re really good with pets,’” adds Michael.
With the idea of pets, the Fergusons started doing some research into the pet industry. The self-proclaimed ‘cat people’, realized there has been a push for all-natural and eco-friendly toys and treats.
“I’m a huge baker,” says Emily. “I just started making dog treats and just started giving everyone I know dog treats.”
Giving them to family, friends and neighbors, Emily says the response was overwhelmingly positive. “Everyone was loving them,” she exclaims. But, the balance of working full-time, running a business and making dog treats made it difficult to accomplish even one of her many jobs.
Knowing she wouldn’t be able to keep making enough dog treats to keep up with demand, Emily began exploring other options.
“We started thinking healthy treats and we sourced out a baker who makes all-natural dog and cat treats,” says Emily.
With a private label of treats, Emily says everything pointed them in the direction of a specialty store.
The newly opened store focuses on treats, toys and supplements. All of which are all-natural, eco-friendly and made in the USA.
“That’s actually been the biggest challenge,” says Emily. “You can find treats, and you can find supplements, finding toys made here – there’s very few brands,” she explains. Emily elaborates saying that when she fact-checks companies with the “Made in the USA” seal, often they are designed in America and assembled in China, or the parts come from China and are assembled in the United States.
In their new venture, the duo says they have learned a lot. “it’s been eye-opening,” says Michael.
Watching the pet food recall list grow, continuing to be a source of fear for pet owners across the country, the Fergusons say they wanted their products to be trustworthy. “It’s inspiring for us to do this and stand behind the products,” adds Michael. “None of our products are going to be recalled because they’re not mass-produced or commercially made.”
The couple says starting their own business taught them something about their relationship, too. “how to work together – better.,” they say in unison.
Emily says local vendors supplement the everyday products found at the store, ensuring there is always something new to see. Local vendors supply everything from collars and leashes to pet beds. “We’re trying to bring in a very artistic end to it, as well,” she says.
The Fergusons see Urban Tails potential to build a community of pet lovers. The large open space in the back of the building is home to pop up vet clinics, training sessions and even doggy socials, allowing animals and their owners to socialize in the same space. “We would love for this to be a community where people walk into the coffee shop to get coffee and then they come here and drink it with their dog,” says Emily.
“A lot of pet ownership is social,” says Michael. Situated next to a coffee shop, bike shop, bakery and restaurants, even the building’s location is centered around a sense of community.
While the business is still new, everyone in the Fergusons’ family has been a part of the launch. Even the Fergusons’ dog, Stella has job as brand ambassador and treat taste-tester for new products.
Emily’s sister, Harrisburg hair stylist Erin Vroman and her husband Chris got to be a part of business, as well. Erin provided the inspiration and any necessary pushes. “She’s been a huge inspiration to both of us,” says Emily. Erin’s husband Chris designed the Urban Tails graphics and logos.
Strange and New
Being a specialty store, the UT team has some unique offerings. Cat bubbles are one of the more popular items for sale at the store. The bubbles are made from cat nip and were a huge seller at HBG Flea. “We sold 11 bottles of cat bubbles at HBG Flea,” laughs Emily.
The pet industry is also keeping up with medical trends, introducing a line of cannabis products for pets to combat ailments like inflammation, arthritis and anxiety. Cannabidiol (CBD) products are available for purchase at Urban Tails.
For pet parents who have cheese-loving pets, Urban Tails sells Himalayan cheese, a variation excellent for power-chewers because it’s both long lasting and durable.
Small businesses rely on their local communities everyday for support, but Urban Tails might be the first to rely on your pet’s support. Urban Tails offers a safe and trustworthy place where pet-lovers can interact, network and join in the dialogue.
Urban Tails Pet Treats & Stuff is located at 2155 Market St., Camp Hill. Find them online at urbantailstreats.com.