Family-owned store keeps Austin pets feeling chic

Austin's homegrown Lofty Dog is a pet boutique that offers owners a selection of uniquely designer dog and cat accessories, toys and equipment.

The family-owned and -operated shop specializes in premium pet foods and a variety of items ranging from custom bedding and bowls to stylish apparel, collars and leashes.

Lofty Dog opened in 2007 in the 2nd Street District, which owner Veronique Michalik described as a mostly empty neighborhood at the time. However, the addition of more retail and development additions—such as the W Hotel and Residences and The Austonian—have helped spur growth. Since then, Michalik said it has matured into a great shopping district.

The whole Michalik family plays a role at Lofty Dog, including their Boston terrier, Ruggles, who often serves as a store greeter.

Manager Tami Carter's pug, Pickles, is also a regular, and she said he has gotten recognized outside the store. People also stop by on their lunch breaks to hang out with the resident dogs.

"They have a following," Michalik said.

The store strives to be unique in its selection, including utilizing many environmentally friendly items as well as products made by local artisans.

"We carry a lot of things other stores don't carry," she said. "We make a conscious effort to find out what's new. We love to bring in good products for the environment that last forever," she added.

Lofty Dog is also involved with community events and charities, including the establishment of Animal Lovers of Austin Inc., a nonprofit organization created to help raise awareness and funding for local area animal rescue groups. The boutique also hosts Barkitecture, an event that raised $20,000 for animal rescues last year.

In 2011, the brand expanded with two locations of a smaller retail store, Lofty Dog Vet, located in the Austin Urban Vet Center on West Fifth Street, and the Chisholm Trail Veterinary Clinic in Lockhart.

Michalik said she hopes to reach even more Austinites with a second location, which is set to open at the Anderson Village Shopping Center in March. The new store will be a little bigger but will carry the same products.

"One of the best things about owning a business is all the friends we have made," Michalik said. "It's kind of like having extended family."

The downtown location is fully staffed, but Michalik said Lofty Dog is taking applications for the newest store at 2700 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. 402.

Lofty Dog, 403 W. Second St., 476-5050,