Apparently, the economy isn't as bad as we thought.
Not when people have enough money to throw birthday parties and weddings -- yes, I said weddings -- for their dogs.
Pet boutique Wags at Baxter held its grand opening Saturday and marketed its newest service: hosting private parties for furry customers. Owner Cindy Curtis is renting the Baxter Village store for birthdays, "puptials," and "bark-mitzvahs." Wags even caters treats for the four-legged guests.
Curtis said the party service previously has been offered by competitors in Charlotte. It's popular among dog owners who attend obedience training and get-togethers with other dogs. The party packages range from $40 for a "take-home party pack" to $150 for an on-site gala, and they even come with a special cake for the dogs.
Saturday, Curtis planned to jump-start the new service with a pooch wedding during the grand opening.
"It's not legally binding, but I hope it will be fun," she quipped. "It's meant to be entertaining. We're not taking it too seriously."
Specialty pet stores are a growing retail sector in York County. ZaLu's, a pet boutique with self-service bathing stations and a resident groomer, opened in Shiland Village at the corner of India Hook and Celanese Road last fall. Dogma & Fetch opened in 2006 in York with complete lines of clothing and specialty treats for pooches. And there are several doggie day-care services popping up around the county.
This trend is hard for me to grasp, considering my longtime dog, Dodger, is "spoiled" with 40-pound bags of Ol' Roy-brand dog food from Wal-Mart garnished with table scraps and a 5-gallon bucket of water. For his birthday, Dodger, now age 91 in doggie days, receives a cold shower from our garden hose and a bone from the Dollar Tree.
And though he had many girlfriends, Dodger (who is neutered) never married.
But, hey, business is about making bucks, and Curtis says sales are increasing at her Market Street shop. So, more power to the entrepreneurs in our area tapping into this growing market.
Europeans eye York County
Speaking of greenbacks, the weakening American dollar (exchanging for about 1.6 per euro last week) may be pushing York County higher on the list of attractive places to expand for European companies.
County officials are recruiting two companies from Western Europe to open manufacturing and distribution operations near Rock Hill. Word is, both could sign deals to move here this year.
If so, they would join the German-based kidney dialysis company planning to open a distribution center on about 12 acres in Waterford Industrial Park.
Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. officials approved on Friday a contract to sell the site at Waterford to Columbus, Ohio-based Vista Hills, which will build a 100,000-square-foot warehouse at the site for a medical company, according to the contract. City officials declined to comment on the company's identity.
Tip of the cap
• Herman Stone, CEO of the Stone Group, developer of the Tega Cay Wal-Mart and owner of Manchester Cinemas in Rock Hill, was presented with the HOPE Award last week for his contributions to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The award was presented at a reception at SouthPark mall in Charlotte.
• Rock Hill native Jerry Feagin, a nurse in Charleston, has been honored with the Palmetto Gold Award for nursing excellence. Feagin, a U.S. Army veteran, was presented the award at a black-tie gala in Columbia on Saturday. Feagin is the son of the late Eddie "Bud" Feagin of Rock Hill and Doris Feagin Hughes of Clover.