Snazzy dog treats at farmers' market
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 06:00 am
Eating local isn’t just for people. In fact, a St. Albert Farmers’ Market vendor bakes treats specifically for man’s best friend.
This week’s Market Place stops by Shirley Edmonds’ booth, a corner that attracts a devoted fan club of dog lovers.
“It’s a pleasure to serve canines,” says Edmonds who was a hairdresser for 35 years. “They don’t complain and they’re usually very friendly.”
The first thing you notice at Edmonds’ stall is her sense of humour and snappy marketing strategy starting with the business moniker – Belle’s Biscuits & Doggie Delites.
Her treats are branded Bowser Bagels and Wheatless Woofies. And you can buy Pupcakes in flavours such as Apple Mutt and Corn Dog.
A shopper steps up and asks if people can eat the natural, no chemical, no preservative treats.
“They’re all human consumable,” she replies.
The Edmonton based baker chuckles when telling the story of a man who stopped by her booth and tasted the sugarless, saltless treats.
“’They’re kind of bland, aren’t they?’ he said. And then he rode away on a bike. He was probably thinking, ‘How does that woman sell that crap? It’s just terrible.’”
But one man’s junk is simply a dog’s treasure. How can a furry four-foot go wrong with bone-shaped biscuit flavours such as Chickin’ Lickin’, Cheese Chows and Carrot Crunchies?
“Peanut butter has always been the number one seller,” she comments. Neither Edmonds nor any of the shoppers buying a bag can fathom their mutt’s fascination with the gooey brown food paste.
Originally from Kelowna, Edmonds decided to bake treats after her daughter bought a pooch. The kicker occurred after she went shopping for pup treats.
“I didn’t like what I saw on the labels. There were 40 ingredients and I didn’t recognize 30. I’ve always been an animal lover and their diet is as important to me as mine. In order to maintain a healthy longevity I decided to make my own.”
For years Edmonds has baked canine confections. At first they served as Christmas gifts. When she made her first foray into markets about 15 years ago, her dog Belle, a golden retriever Lab cross, became the business mascot. Although Belle passed away, her photo still flies with pride on the business banner.
Edmonds has another four-footed companion. Together the goofy, fun-loving Rupert and Edmonds go camping and swimming. He is also the official food tester.
“He loves cupcakes and peanut butter.”
A market vendor rapidly becomes an astute observer of human nature, and the steady stream of shoppers buying treats tells her a couple of different things.
“People love their dogs and they like to spoil their dog. It also tells me we’re more aware of what we eat and what our pets eat. Today we read labels and we tend to be more careful in what we buy.”
Edmonds has hawked her wares at St. Albert Farmers’ Market for five years. While growing up, she never imagined herself baking for a living. Yet today, she wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“I love coming to the market. I love watching people walk around. It’s kind of like a Saturday night party. Everybody’s in a good mood.”