It is hard not to feel happy when walking into Copilot Dog Outfitters. The shop is colorful, bright, and has a friendly vibe. Clearly, this is not your ordinary pet store. Copilot is all about treats, grooming and functional gear for best dog friends and “copilots”. Having worked for a home builder for most of her career, Kim Hanson was excited by the possibility of starting a new business. After the owner of the building company decided to retire, Kim felt it was the perfect time to start a business on her own. “The only requirement was that it had to be something where I could bring my dog to work with me every day.” To make this dream a reality, her first thought was to open a pet store. While Kim was hunting for a location for her new store she knew she wanted it to be located in a pet friendly community. She soon discovered the perfect spot in Linden Hills. Kim was familiar with the close-knit neighborhood and was drawn to its charm, walkability and friendliness of the residents, dogs and humans alike. She had attended the annual Woofstock event and “loved the unique mix of other independent businesses and how supportive they all are of Linden Hills,” and soon realized that, “if it wasn’t going to be in Linden Hills, I didn’t want to open a store at all.” Happily, on May 16th Kim is celebrating her second year of owning Copilot Dog Outfitters.
Most pet stores don’t have a clear focus on gear. Copilot carries unique, high quality brands that you can test out before you purchase. Kim says she wanted the store to center around “functional products and gear that enable people to spend more time with their dogs.” Maybe they have a dog who is not as active or who can no longer run. Copilot has backpacks that allow people to bring their dog along while hiking or biking. Kim stresses that Copilot is “focused on getting people to spend more time with their dogs.” A lot of her quality products help make dogs feel safe and comfortable, such as booties for walking, harnesses, special bike leashes, functionable winter coats, and rain gear. Kim knows firsthand what Minnesotans need to fully enjoy the four seasons with their dogs. Dogs are always welcome to visit Copilot to try products on before venturing outdoors.
Copilot also provides grooming services that emphasize lower volume. Kim explains that she strives to provide, “a better experience for many dogs because we only groom one dog at a time – straight through.” Doing so makes for a quiet and less chaotic atmosphere as well as shorter kenneling time. Pet owners appreciate Copilot’s thoughtful approach to grooming as it seems to work well in minimizing dogs’ stress and anxiety.
Copilot would not be complete without Audrey, the brindle Frenchie who Kim lovingly refers to as her Public Relations Manager. Kids especially love to visit with Audrey and she is equally excited to see them. Kim comments, “It makes the job fun and rewarding. Audrey was born to be a shop dog. She loves people. It’s one of the sweetest things ever.”
When Kim holds special events in her store, she likes to feature a charity. Copilot has collaborated with organizations such as Mutt Mutt Engine Dog Rescue, the Animal Humane Society, and Underdog Rescue. As far as her plans for the future go, Kim intends to continue searching for innovative, high quality products to offer dogs and their owners. Every year she attends several trade shows and travels to visit other pet stores to learn what is successful and rated top notch. Copilot is committed to bringing innovative products and gear to those who truly consider their dog to be their best friend, family member, and copilot. Because she wants her store to be an integral part of her neighborhood, Kim fosters an environment that encourages people and their copilots to feel happy and be actively part of their community. People often drop by to talk say “hi” and Kim says, “It has turned out to be the best thing.”