Hounds is an independent specialist dog shop in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, and we were lucky enough to be their first customers when they opened on Merrial Street in April 2016. A year later they moved to a bigger premises on Fogg Street and we had the pleasure of officially opening the new shop with Elsa!
April 2016 | Hounds opened their doors for the first time at 15 Merrial Street, Newcastle-Under-Lyme. Here is our original blog post:
We were very excited to hear about this store opening and decided to head down with Elsa to check it out.
Newcastle-Under-Lyme has seen a number of new shops, restaurants, bars and cafe’s open up recently including the dog friendly Cappello Lounge, Ten Green Bottles and Millie and Roses so it was great to hear that there is finally a local specialist shop that we can take Elsa to get some new treats and toys!
We were given a very warm welcome to the shop and Elsa enjoyed a home-made biscuit while we looked around and filled our shopping basket with some of her favourite Lily’s Kitchen treats.
Along with food and treats they also stock a range of collars and leads, books, recipe cards, toys, beds, bowls and other bits & pieces for dogs and dog-lovers alike.
Elsa now has a loyalty card and we look forward to seeing this shop grow! See more about Hounds on their facebook page.
April 2017 | Just one year later, we are thrilled to see Hounds expanding into a bigger shop at number 2 Fogg Street, Newcastle-Under-Lyme!
The move came about when the shop next door decided refurbish and condense into one retail unit instead of two, opening up an opportunity for Hounds to move to larger premises.
The new shop is bigger which means that there is more space for new and exciting products!
Once again, Hounds have used their expert interior design skills to make the most of every inch of space.
Hounds only stock wholesome dog food and treats made from the highest quality ingredients. The extra space in the new shop means that they can now offer even more variety including Natural Instinct raw food.
It didn’t take Elsa long to sniff out the pick and mix table…
Another brand that we are very pleased to see in the shop is Green & Wilds. They have a fantastic range of natural products including Beef Jerky Chews, Plaice Fillets and Cod Skin Bites which Elsa loves!
We are huge fans of Sweetpea & Boo and Elsa can often be seen wearing their beautiful designs, made locally in Staffordshire.
Our favourite feature in the new shop has to be the ‘Dog House’ style alcove! The paw-fect place for a photo opportunity…
Another new brand that we noticed in the shop is anco naturals. This family owned company, based in Scotland, specialises in 100% natural pet treats and actively supports independent pet retailers just like Hounds! Their treats look very yummy and we picked up one of their deer hide chews for Elsa from the pick and mix table.
Elsa decided that she needed a closer look at some of the products…
…she quickly found the hidden stash of black pudding sticks and decided to cheekily help herself!
Elsa was very happy to help test the new bubble guns too!
To celebrate the new shop opening, Hounds had a lovely selection of doggie cakes as well as fizz and chocolates for humans to enjoy too!
Elsa didn’t get left out and got to try some ‘Pet-House’ White Pawsecco…
…the grin says it all, although she got a little over excited afterwards and accidentally broke the bowl, oops! Fortunately everyone was very understanding, after all it was her very first ‘drink’! [Pawsecco is non-alcoholic, non -carbonated and grape-free – made by Wood & Brew]
Of course we couldn’t go home empty handed after Elsa had seen all the goodies in store so we bought her some BeCo Wild Boar dog food, Green & Wilds treats and some new toys.
Over the past year this shop has become a focal point for local dog owners, and has drawn people from far and wide to this lovely little market town in Staffordshire.
We asked Hounds owner, Anya Szczur a few questions about why she thinks the shop has been so successful and what we can expect next:
The shop seems to be going from strength to strength and it’s great to see Hounds expanding into a bigger premises, what would you say has contributed to your success over the past year?
Social media from the get go has always been a big part of Hounds, it’s almost a window into Hounds. If you are at work, on the bus you can log in to Instagram and see what’s new in Hounds, what’s happening in-store. We often post live videos so you can be part of Hounds even if you are not in the shop at the time. Our events are also a big part of Hounds. We get great feedback from our events, no matter how crazy they sound our customers are always up for coming along. The fact that we are dog owners ourselves I think really helps as it means we know exactly how our customers feel and we can therefore help them give their dogs what they need.
Now that you have more space in the shop; what new products can we expect to see in store?
We have two new treat brands; Anco, who specialise in natural chews and have a unique range of items such as wild boar ears and deer trotters to name a few. We also have Green & Wilds who do both toys and natural treats. Our customer’s Dogs love fish so Green & Wilds was a great choice for us as their fishy range has a lot to offer. We are also delighted to say we now stock Natural Instinct raw food. Having a space to stock raw food has massively helped us to cater for more dogs, as there are lots of customers who like to feed their pooches raw food. Sotnos, a Scandanavian dog wear company, have a great range of cute yet practical coats and jumpers, so we’re very excited to see how popular these will be!
We love attending your events and really enjoyed the Halloween and Christmas parties; will there be any other special events or services that you can offer now that you have a bigger shop?
We have no plans to stop our events, we love them just as much as our customers! In terms of services, we will very soon be offering a weigh-in service where people will be able to bring their dogs in to get weighed. We do have plans for a doggy tea party, which will be in aid of Guide Dogs, but we don’t want to give much else away at this stage!
What other benefits will your customers have from the new store?
I think the new shop is much more fun to explore for both people and pooch, the new space obviously allows more room for people to walk around and also lets more people in at any one time, so it won’t feel so crowded during the busy spells. We also have the shop designed in sections now, with specific spaces laid out for toys, treats, beds and food.
Do you think Newcastle Under Lyme has become more dog friendly as a town since Hounds opened last year?
Personally, I think it was good timing, as we opened at a very similar time to Cappello Lounge and 10 Green Bottles, two bars which are both dog friendly. We have made a lot of effort to promote as many dog friendly businesses in the town though, which has hopefully seen our customers feel more comfortable about bringing their pooch into town and staying for longer, perhaps going for a drink or some food, instead of simply popping in.
What are your plans for the future? Do you see yourselves opening up more branches in other towns or franchising etc?
We don’t really want to give anything away on this one! But we do have a lot of ideas and plans for the future. We really want to create something that is really different to anything anyone else might be doing, so we’re happy to take our time and make sure everything is just right. But we must say, we adore Newcastle Under Lyme and certainly have no plans to leave the town.
We would like to thank Anya for taking the time to answer our questions, and we wish Hounds every success for the future!
Events at Hounds
Hounds is much more than just a shop. They hold regular events in store including food tasting, birthday celebrations, puppy weekends and seasonal parties. Click here to see a full list.
Their events are the perfect place to socialise your dog, meet like-minded owners and have some fun! We have met many lovely people and made lots of new friends over the past year because of Hounds.
Lily’s Kitchen Taste event
We went down to the Lily’s Kitchen taste event to see if Elsa fancied any of the food on offer. Being a very picky eater, she decided that she’d rather fill up on treats…
Elsa loves Lily’s Kitchen’s range of treats including fish skin chews, bedtime biscuits and (her new favourite) the snack bars! She couldn’t resist this Sun Shiny Day one…
Elsa also got a free goody bag with some samples in!
Another event that Hounds hosted in August 2016 was this fantastic dog walk combining gaming with a routine dog walk, a great opportunity for the dogs to socialise and for people to meet others with similar interests!
Elsa had great fun at the Hounds Halloween party dressed as a scary tarantu-lhasa!
Christmas 2016 at Hounds
Hounds kicked off the festive season with a special launch night to show off all the Christmas products from toys to treats along with a stunning window display!
As part of the 2016 festivities, Santa also visited Hounds and dogs were lining up to have their photo taken with him, including Elsa!
|Photo by Hounds|
Christmas Jumper Party 2016
The events at Hounds never disappoint and this one definitely topped them all!
Elsa has made lots of new friends over the past year and we were delighted to see all of her favourite friends including Piglet, Freddie, Harry, Charlie, Woody and Cinnamon all dressed to impress in their Christmas jumpers!
There were also some new paws at the party including a few puppies which were just adorable!
As always, Elsa quickly found the treats…
The time just flew by while the dogs socialised and we enjoyed watching their antics!
Valentine’s Photo Shoot | February 2017
We took Elsa to the Valentine’s Photo Shoot at Hounds and met up with a few of her dog friends including the adorable Piglet (pictured below) and Harry the Chug. Although we’d hoped to get a group photo of all three together, things quickly descended into chaos when the dogs decided it was much more fun running around the set and wouldn’t sit still long enough for a photo! Luckily the lovely photographer –Strawberry Blonde Bethan Shuff managed to capture this gorgeous shot of Elsa and Piglet together.
Hounds 1st Birthday Celebration! | Saturday 29th April 2017
Hounds has celebrated it’s first birthday and we headed down to their new shop on Fogg Street with a little surprise from Elsa…
When Hounds opened a year ago we had no idea that this little shop would become such a big part of our lives… Elsa has met so many lovely dogs there and we have made lots of new friends through their events. We are so grateful to have such a wonderful shop on our doorstep!
It was great to see so many familiar faces at the birthday celebration. When we arrived we met Elsa’s friend Daisy May the Miniature Schnauzer, looking gorgeous as always!
Elsa loved the homemade dog biscuits and cake!
Harry got straight into the party mood with his hat!
Fetch Sketch at Hounds! The very talented Charley was in store to draw pet caricatures.
|Harry poses for his Fetch Sketch caricature!|
We already have a Fetch Sketch caricature of Elsa that Charley drew for us about a year ago, so we asked if she could draw us a couple of headshots of Elsa. On the left is her as a puppy and on the right is her today. We absolutely love these drawings!
We decided to wait for Harry and Piglet so that we could all go for a cheeky drink in the dog friendly Ten Green Bottles Co afterwards!
Happy 1st Birthday to Hounds!
Here’s to many more successful years ahead!
2 Fogg St E, Newcastle ST5 2RE