Bark barks outside the box with BarkPark
Many online retailers have experimented with their own physical store concepts in recent years, but Bark’s is one of a growing number of such outlets aimed at non-human customers — and may be the first without any walls.
Bark, the pet supplies company responsible for BarkBox, announced the launch of its branded BarkPark dog park in Nashville, TN. The park will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. beginning on Sept. 8 and will run through November, according to Fortune. It will feature a large, clean green space for dogs to play in, pet care professionals to monitor the dogs playing and, of course, a selection of Bark Originals toys. There are also human-facing events scheduled at least twice weekly at the location. Though it’s only a pop-up, the chain has aspirations to open more BarkParks nationwide.
The BarkPark website describes it as an “ultra-fun dog hangout that doubles as a hip human hangout for playing, working, and chilling.” It also features free Wi-Fi, a coffee bar and is BYOB (for beer and wine).
Originally a pure-play e-tail subscription service, BarkBox has begun taking steps into the physical world in order to scale. In late 2017, the company teamed up with Target to bring product to the retailer’s shelves. This week, Internet Retailer reports, it began selling three of its collections on UO MRKT, Urban Outfitter’s online marketplace.
If BarkPark becomes a full-time location at some point in the future, it will put the brand in competition with the brick-and-mortar incumbents in the space.
Both PetCo and PetSmart have been piloting experiential concepts to cater to customers that want to pamper their pets. PetCo launched its first PetCoach location, dedicated to such services as veterinary care and grooming, earlier this year. PetSmart began piloting a high-end luxury Pet Spa a few years ago (though it does not appear to have expanded beyond a few locations).
The pet care space has become a growth industry as Millennials have begun to think of their pets as “fur babies” and begun to spend on them accordingly. According to a TD Ameritrade study, dog owners spend $1,285 on their dogs per year.
- BarkBox Is Thinking Outside the Box With a New Experimental Retail Concept – Fortune
- BarkPark – Bark.co
- Bark sells its dog toys on Urban Outfitters’ online marketplace – Internet Retailer
- Petco pilots experiential store concept for fur babies – RetailWire
- Millennials spend like crazy on their fur babies – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see BarkPark as a concept that will endure for Bark? What other types of non-traditional concepts do you think would work for e-tailers as they attempt to establish a physical footprint?