Pet Age recently visited Justine Roig, co-owner of Chi-wa-wa Ga-ga, at her pet costume shop in New Orleans, Louisiana, to find out what makes her business so unique.
Q What do you feel was a major influence in pet owners seeking clothing for their pets?
A A huge influence was the TV show “The Simple Life.” After Paris Hilton dressed her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, in dresses and shoes, I really noticed a difference in the amount of sales. There wasn’t too much available then, especially collars or leashes in pink.
Q How would you describe the products that you carry? What are the most popular brands that you carry?
A I carry all kinds of clothing and accessories for every occasion possible. I have a lot of custom-made dresses, capes, bandanas and harnesses, plus my main suppliers for costumes are Rubie’s, Pet Edge and PamPet Puppelove.
Q What have you noticed as the trends in popular costumes with pet owners? What do you expect to be popular this Halloween?
A The trends in costumes change every year. It depends what movie is popular or what is trending on social media. Superdog was always a good seller, then a couple of years ago when the video of a dog wearing a spider costume was everywhere, everyone wanted that costume. This year, I think Wonder Woman will be a popular one. I always sell a lot of the lobster costume, especially in this area.
Q At what specific times of the year does business pick up at your pet shop?
A My busiest time of the year is Mardi Gras, which falls in either February or March. There is a huge parade just for dogs called the Krewe of Barkus, and a different theme is picked every year. It happens on the Sunday before the big Mardi Gras weekend. Halloween is second, and Christmas is third.
Q Can you describe an experience that you’ve had involving an interesting pet customer?
A I’ve dressed many different animals over my 18 years in this shop, but the one that sticks out the most is when a customer came in on a Friday afternoon walking his pet llama on a leash. His name was Tony Llama and he left wearing a rainbow colored tutu. That was crazy and so much fun to see him walk down the road dressed up!