By LOIS KINDLE
Not long ago, Bark & Purr owner Jill Scott thought she might have to close the doors of her beloved pet shop in Apollo Beach.
But thanks to community support, her frugality and perseverance, the store has survived the closing of Winn Dixie six months after it opened, an ongoing pandemic and the current construction project that has disturbed traffic flow and torn up parking areas within the Waterside Shops of Apollo Beach plaza.
“My customers appreciate the high-quality, healthy items I offer in my in-store bakery and my inventory of only the best pet foods in the industry,” Scott said. “I put myself through an intensive, canine nutrition course and take recommendations I give to people quite seriously.
“It also helps that Jessica, my store manager, is a certified veterinary tech,” she continued. “Between the two of us, we have our pets and their owners covered.”
Scott’s bakery opened on day one and has grown exponentially over the years. “Everything I make is popular, especially the birthday cakes, birthday bones, whoopie pies and pupcakes,” she said. “I use only human-grade ingredients, no sugar and things like rice flour, eggs, baking powder and baking soda. Flavors include peanut butter, banana, pumpkin spice and red velvet (beets). “The banana cake I always taste,” she said. “It’s that good!”
Her frosting is made with tapioca starch and Greek yogurt.
Cakes come in three sizes – small, medium and large, and they can be bone-shaped, heart-shaped or round. They’re all custom decorated and, usually, made the day before pickup. Prices range from $20 to $30.
Then there are the fresh-baked treats Scott sells for $1 per ounce. She, Jessica and a part-timer named Vickie bake 75 percent of them on site, and for the remainder she employs a trusted bakery that uses her recipes.
Her furry clients have a wide selection of tiny, low-fat bacon bones, cheesy bacon bites, cherry nuggets, peanut butter and banana buddies, low-fat apple hearts and peanut butter, red velvet and bacon breakfast bones. And that’s not counting the fancy stuff in the case, like liver-cheese biscotti.
Bark & Purr features only top-rated dry, wet or raw pet foods from brands like Fromm’s, Stella & Chewy, Zignature, Essence, Answers and Primal.
“We’ve honed our offerings to the brands we trust and that dogs like,” Scott said.
Additionally, the store features a wide array of toys for both dogs and cats; assorted chews (no rawhide); accessories for both dogs and cats; a new spring line of clothing; cat foods; treats and supplies; supplements, grooming and healthcare products, including CBD; pet-themed T-shirts for humans; greeting cards; gifts and more. It even has puppy and kitten products for new arrivals.
“This shop is my happily ever after,” Scott said. “I hope to do this until I drop!”
Bark and Purr Persnickety Pet Emporium, 6138 U.S. 41 N, Apollo Beach, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 813-773-7553.