Small Dog Wonders Bakery LLC is the owner of USA-made and sourced Bistro Bites, officially unveiled to the industry at the 2012 Backer (now Total Pet Expo) show in Chicago. The all-natural line of healthy dog treats is the first to have been created based on new and unique recipes with the small dog specifically in mind, claims the company.
"When we first introduced Bistro Bites in 2012, our approach called attention to obesity—particularly prevalent among smaller breeds," explains Valerie Perlowitz, founder and CEO. "We help people see how important the size of what you feed your dog is; all natural is great, but if you don’t have the right size, that balance is still off. Cutting a large treat in half doesn’t mean the two halves are equal—hence our smaller-sized treats. Appropriate size is always important."
Starting with trying to fill the gap in the market for size-appropriate treats for small dogs, Perlowitz and her team developed Bistro Bites utilizing a network of dogs up and down the East Coast who would receive the current batch with a sheet on which to score the product. "You can certainly imagine the good as well as the bad treats we developed along the way!" Perlowitz quips. "The one constant was Yoshi. Being my dog, he had access to everything well before any other dog did and I learned very quickly (after spending hours making a recipe) not to go through making a recipe if Yoshi didn't like the dough!" So strongly does the Small Dogs Wonder Bakery team believe in their treats that everyone on the team has had at least one biscuit so they all can say, "We've eaten our own dog treat!"
Bistro Bites include five flavors of biscuits: Berries & Almonds, Chicken Livers, Peanut Butter & Carob, Sweet Potato, and Vegetable. The sixth and final flavor is their training treat in Peanut Butter Applesauce.
The Bakery's initial strategy was selling directly to the pet owner/consumer via the Internet. "We found that consumers generally look to the Internet for products they know at discounted prices, which is not what Bistro Bites is about. As we became more educated, it was clear that building partnerships with retailers and educating them on the value of our product was the right growth approach," says Perlowitz of her company's growth. "We have spent the past year developing more awareness of Bistro Bites through these partnerships. We are now positioned as a more mature company to bring Bistro Bites to a much larger audience through the addition of distributor partners."
Building strong partnerships with the people who are selling their product and educating consumers about how to care for their pets better are two cornerstones of the Small Dog Wonders Bakery culture. "As education is key to assisting our partners in helping their customers make the right choices, we have built a collaborative environment which houses a variety of materials for them to become educated on topics such as pet obesity and nutritional value that can be shared with their customers," continues Perlowitz.
"Going forward, we will continue to look for underserved areas where we can take the Bistro Bites product line," she says. "We are trending upwards as we broaden our retailer partner community. Our expansion to date has been successful, as reflected in the fact that we are now available in 19 states, in 42 stores by 31 retailers. Our goal is to continue this growth into 2014, with the addition of distributor partnerships to assist us in not only penetrating new markets, but in expansion of the retailers we have in all states."
As Bistro Bites gains more popularity with pet owners, learning what they need to help their pets stay healthy will be key in how the Bakery looks to add new flavors and types, and other new treats that are enjoyable to dogs and that their owners feel good about giving them, according to Perlowitz. "All-natural is the big push right now, but there are many ways that petfood and treats can be classified as all-natural," she explains. "As the pet owner moves from reading the labels on the food they eat to reading the labels of the food they feed their pets, more attention will be paid to what all-natural really means. Bistro Bites has always had clearly written labels and will continue to lead this trend."
Building their retail partner community and bringing value to customers through education has been key for Small Dog so far. "We are constantly looking for ways to increase the communication between ourselves, our partners and pet owners with relevant and timely information. This communication helps us understand what is on the minds of pet owners, so as we develop new products in the Bistro Bites line, we continue to offer what the customers want," explains Perlowitz. "We don't want to become just another dog treat, but serve as true partners in all aspects."