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Canine day-care centers are coming to a retail center near you

Released: Friday, April 13, 2018

Dogtopia, a provider of dog day-care, boarding and spa services, has grown since its inception in 2002 into one of the largest providers of specialty services in the U.S. Today the company operates nearly 80 units across North America. One of the newest is Dogtopia of Overland Park (Kan.), located in the Corbin Park retail village. The business is owned and operated by husband-and-wife franchisees Jeff and Hilary Contino, who were involved in the technology field before obtaining their Dogtopia franchise in late 2016.

“Dogtopia’s unique concept of providing the highest level of care for dogs and being located in a high-end, convenient retail environment seemed like the perfect solution for the dog lovers in the affluent area of southern Overland Park,” said Hilary Contino, who is speaking for the Continos in this article.

Dogtopia emphasizes safety and transparency and concentrates on exercise and socialization for its clients’ pets. This business model intrigued Contino and her husband, she says. “We had heard some buzz going around in corporate America about the positive outlook on dog day cares, so when we were looking around at various business opportunities, Dogtopia stood out to us right away,” Contino said. “The brand has been growing rapidly; it’s been a great fit for us so far.”

Soon after signing the franchise agreement, the Continos set out to find the perfect location for their new business. This took some doing, however, because the concept of having a dog day care and boarding facility in a retail area is still fairly new among landlords and localities alike. This is where Max DiCarlo, a retail and investment specialist at Block & Co., Inc., Realtors, became an invaluable aid and ally.

“After many months of looking, [DiCarlo] was able to locate a property that was a great opportunity for us in Corbin Park, and he helped us negotiate it to a lease rate that aligned with our business plan,” Contino said. “The location has 2,500 apartments within a one-mile radius and 200 luxury apartments that are scheduled to open right across the street from us [this year].”

The Corbin Park shopping center location had not been previously occupied, so the Continos worked with Dogtopia, Cushman & Wakefield and Gnich Architecture Studio to design the interior from scratch. “Pups enjoy a 5,200-square-foot, open layout where each of our three playrooms offers a variety of areas for dogs of similar sizes and temperaments to play,” Contino said.

Next, the Continos are planning to open a 1,400-square-foot outdoor play area sometime this summer. And later on they hope to roll out an additional Dogtopia unit in the same area. “So far business has been great in Overland Park,” said Contino. “So maybe that long-term plan will be sooner than we think.”

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