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Bruiser, pictured in a fancy suit, is the face and inspiration for Gary and Laura Hughes’ business, Gangsta Dog. (WYDaily / Courtesy Gary Hughes)
YORKTOWN – Make way, Yorktown! There’s a new shop on the block that is sure to be your dog’s new favorite spot.
And it’s called Gangsta Dog.
Gangsta Dog was started by Gary and Laura Hughes, two big puppy lovers who have four dogs of their own: Bruiser, Daisy, Copper and Eliza Scarface Doolittle.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, this company bakes dog biscuits for puppies regardless of their size, shape, or health concerns.
“Everything we’ve done is fun,” said Gary in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “Our entire company was founded by accident.”
Bruiser, the original “gangsta dog”
The name Gangsta Dog was inspired by Bruiser, their little pup with a very fascinating pedigree.
When the Hughes adopted Bruiser, they thought he was a purebred Norwich Terrier. But as Bruiser grew, they found that he didn’t look like that. The Hughes had its DNA tested and it turned out that Bruiser was more than a breed.
But instead of calling him a mutt, the Hughes would tell people, “He’s a gangsta dog.”
When Bruiser grew up not to look like a Norwich Terrier, the Hughes discovered that he was not a purebred but a gangsta dog. (WYDaily / Courtesy Gary Huges)
With such a cool little pup wanted the Hughes to have some fun to honor him and decided to start a business. But Gary and Laura didn’t know exactly which business to start.
The couple took a biscuit decorating class during which they accidentally discovered that Gary had a natural talent for biscuit decorating.
Then my wife said to me, ‘You should do this. Why don’t you make dog biscuits? ‘”Said Gary.
An idea turns into a business
The Hughes hired an artist to create the company logo for Gangsta Dog, while Gary went on Facebook to send friend requests to anyone who had a dog. He offered to send them free dog biscuits based on the recipes he found.
“If the dog didn’t like the cookie, we’d change the recipe. And if two or more dogs didn’t like the recipe, we’d skip that recipe and try another, ”he said.
Gary Hughes and Bruiser. (WYDaily / Courtesy Gary Hughes)
With nearly 50 dog-approved recipes, Gangsta Dog started selling biscuits at farmers markets. In 2018, Gary and Laura opened their first permanent location in Louisville, Kentucky. Two years later, the couple were looking for a second business.
Gangsta Dog’s current product offering includes soft treats, dog sprinkles, CBD oil, dog-themed shirts for humans, and the company’s own line of dog foods. Gary and Laura also make dog biscuits for puppies with special medical needs such as diabetes or pancreatitis.
All of the goodies Gangsta Dog sells are hand mixed, rolled, and sliced.
How did a Kentucky-based company end up in Yorktown?
The Hughes visited Hampton Roads when they heard of the dog-friendly atmosphere on Yorktown Beach. After seeing so many people out and about with their pets, Gary and Laura knew they had found the perfect spot for a second location.
“We saw so many people with their dogs, so we thought, why not here?” Said Gary. Coincidentally, there was a store available at Riverwalk Landing so Gangsta Dog took the opportunity.
Gangsta Dog at 319 Water St. in Yorktown will officially open on Friday April 2nd. Business hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On the opening day, all dogs that come to the store to check out receive a free biscuit. To see what Gangsta Dog has available for your particular pup, visit their website by clicking here.
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