In recent years, Market Street in Camp Hill has experienced what might be called a “boutique boom.”
And now the furry, four-legged among us can join in on the action.
In March, Urban Tails opened, featuring pet toys, goods and, perhaps most importantly, a signature line of treats.
The idea began when Michael Ferguson began considering swapping his job as a painter for something less physically demanding. He and wife Emily then brainstormed a concept, spurred on by their love of animals and her love of baking.
Soon, Emily was in the kitchen experimenting with homemade pet snacks.
“I decided to give them out to friends and neighbors for feedback,” she said.
The treats were a hit, which inspired the couple to explore the costs of a commercial-grade kitchen. Unfortunately, there just weren’t enough hours in the day for Emily to make the treats while juggling a full-time job and family. So, she opted to delegate the task, reaching out to an existing bakery in the all-natural dog and cat food industry.
She collaborated with the bakery to develop recipes, which led to her successful line of “Urban Tails” treats.
The couple introduced their business to the region last year by way of the HBG Flea, a monthly Harrisburg market that often serves as a launching pad for new businesses. The concept was so popular that, after a three-month period, the Lower Allen Township couple was confident enough to “embark” upon a brick-and-mortar endeavor.
“Everyone liked the idea, and the demand was there,” said Emily.
When the Fergusons took over the space, which previously operated as a hookah lounge, they realized there was much work to be done.
“We took February and March off to concentrate on the renovation,” Emily said. “We painted, cleaned, decorated, redid the floors and added a sealant so they are accident-proof and pet-friendly.”
Foremost, the couple wanted to earn the trust of the consumer by providing all-natural, eco-friendly pet products made in the United States. Their inventory includes a selection of private-label treats, eco-friendly toys, collars, pet clothing and chews that go beyond the boring bone. One of the most popular stops is a table near the front of the store that displays a unique smorgasbord of treats averaging $1 to $4.
“That’s our raw bar,” said Michael, with a chuckle.
Among the choices are ethically harvested lamb horns from Iceland, Himalayan cheese treats, pig ears, duck necks, chicken necks and cod skin, to name a few. Pets have been known to fight over something called “Bully Sticks,” billed as a treat that is a natural alternative to undigestible rawhide.
The Fergusons also carry a line of cannabis products to help treat maladies like hot spots, inflammation, arthritis and anxiety. According to Emily, the products are becoming more popular as success stories make the rounds.
Katie Manning of Camp Hill discovered Urban Tails at the HBG Flea and followed them to their new location.
“At the time, we had an older cat that was almost 18,” she said. “She had some digestive problems, and they suggested a powder that really helped a lot. I’ve tried a variety of their products, from treats to toys. My cats find the treats to be highly addictive.”
Manning said that she likes the convenience of a neighborhood pet store and appreciates the high-quality merchandise.
“My one cat just tears things up, and she hasn’t managed to destroy anything I’ve bought there yet,” she said.
To encourage social interaction, the Fergusons have established a room for animal-related community gatherings. The couple said they may consider establishing a pet-related partnership for renting out the space in the future, but, for now, the room, which features an adorable selection of pet photographs by CarisaK Photography, is being used for doggie socials and by charitable organizations for activities like adoption events.
“Last week, the Susquehanna Service Dogs visited,” said Emily. “My daughter read to one dog for an hour, and the organization distributed information to the public and demonstrated what the dogs are capable of doing.”
She added that the business is truly a family affair. Daughters Caitlin, 7, and Lily, 11, often hand out business cards or help around the shop.
For Emily and Michael, the pet business has been “pawsitively” rewarding.
“We’re happy to be a part of the community and to provide customers with products they know they can trust,” said Michael.
Urban Tails is located at 2155 Market St., Camp Hill. For more information, call 717-831-8490 or visit www.urbantailstreats.com or their Facebook page.