Photo by James Moss
Jill Butler and her nephew, David Adams, sit in the dog play area. David helps by playing with the dogs, and Butler’s sister Lisa helps at the store, too. “We’re a pet-oriented family. This is family-owned and family-ran,” Butler says.
WOOD RIVER | Approximately 75 people entered Great Sniffs, a new pet care business at 2 East Ferguson Ave., on May 28 for the grand opening. The owner, Jill Butler of Godfrey, called her opening day “a great success.”
Butler said she started Great Sniffs for several reasons, but primarily because she loves animals.
“I’ve always loved dogs. I love all animals,” she said. “I’ve always felt a need for more community awareness toward dogs and cats and their issues.”
Butler has been working to open Great Sniffs for almost a year. She works in the carpet business as her daytime job. Since before Christmas, she would get off work at 5 or 6 p.m., then work at Great Sniffs until the early morning, sometimes as late as 3 a.m., to prepare for its opening.
Butler said she thinks all her hard work will pay off because of how much people love their pets.
“I honestly believe people love their dogs and want to talk about their dog and take their dog places and buy them unique and cool things,” she said. “I honestly believe people are going to want to bring their dogs in here. I tried to make it fun and I think I’ve succeeded.”
Great Sniffs offers a variety of services to pet owners. One of its primary services is do-it-yourself dog washing. Great Sniffs provides the essentials, like the bathtub and soaps, and the customers wash the dog. They offer three packages, from basic to “everything,” which cost $14 to $18. A Great Sniffs employee will wash customers’ dogs for an extra charge.
After washing their dog, customers can take their pet to the play area to let their furry friends burn off their after-bath burst of energy. While the pets play, owners can peruse the store’s inventory. Great Sniffs sells a variety of items, including specialty shampoos, handmade pet beds and pillows, handmade ties and bandanas for pets, homemade treats and climbing towers for cats.
Butler said she wants to sell only unique items that customers can’t buy at chain stores, but purchases aren’t a prerequisite for enjoying the play area.
“This is a place where you can come when the weather is bad and just hang out,” she said. “Everybody is welcome to come and just hang out. They don’t have to come and buy something or wash their dog. I love to meet the dogs and the people.”
In addition to products, Great Sniffs offers a unique service: a hydrobath. This bathtub, which includes four jets and a wand, helps dogs with skin allergies, arthritis, paralysis and relaxation, according to Butler. She described it as “a hot tub for dogs.”
Butler and a friend built the hydrobath themselves, after she researched it and decided she wanted one at Great Sniffs. Butler also built a specialty bathtub that is low to the ground, allowing dogs with health problems to get in without having to be picked up. She built a ramp and stairs to further aid dogs in getting into the tub.
“I’ve done my best to accommodate every dog,” she said.
Even with this variety of services and products, Butler still has a clear goal for Great Sniffs.
“I would just like to be known as a really cool, fun, affordable place for people to bring their pets and have fun and enjoy themselves with their pet,” she said.
Butler said business has slowed since her busy opening day, but she said she believes that will change once she gets more exposure. “I really believe people don’t know about me yet,” she said. “People walk in and say ‘wow, you’re open now.’”
Once business picks up, Butler said she plans to add to Great Sniffs. She wants to partner with animal nonprofits and host a monthly meeting for grieving pet owners. Great Sniffs is also looking for a rescue program or a veterinarian to volunteer to help customers who come in with sick, injured or abandoned pets.
Great Sniffs is open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment Sunday and Monday. For information, visit their Facebook page.