It’s no insult to say that one small section of Main Street in Plymouth has gone to the dogs. In November, Robin Silva opened a new business, Kupcakes and Kibble, that’s dedicated to making pooches and their people happy. Located in a bustling part of downtown, the store is filled with healthy treats, plus a selection of toys and gifts.
“My focus is on supplying products that have really good ingredients and providing a place that’s a destination for pup parents to be able bring their dog in and enjoy the experience,” she said. “I just want it to be a fun, happy place.”
Mission accomplished. A visit on a recent afternoon showed a steady stream of customers, many accompanied by a four-legged friend.
Dogs have been in Silva’s life for as long as she can remember. Her family had dogs when she was growing up, and her kids helped her raise several rescue dogs. Now her children are grown-ups with pups of their own, and that inspired her to dabble in making doggy treats.
“It was something healthy and nutritious that I could make at home,” she said. “I started with peanut butter recipes, then I started using dehydrated chicken and beef and some sweet potatoes. I gave them to my grandpups and that got me thinking about opening a little shop.
“It was just an idea for a long time until my husband and I traveled around the country for about six months. That’s when I discovered a lot of these little dog bakeries in places like California, Seattle, Denver. When I came back, I started putting the ideas on paper, put a business plan together, started researching what products were local and also made in the United States and then it just started coming together.”
Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to make treats while operating a store, she scouted around for suppliers.
“It really was quite easy once I put the plan in place and I started checking off each item,” she said. “Just having the internet is like gold when you’re trying to do something like this because everything’s right at your fingertips –learning about ingredients, learning about what you don’t want as far as ingredients, learning about how to access products on a wholesale level. I spent several months researching and contacting bakeries and wholesalers.”
Silva stocks a wide variety of meat-based (including wild boar and venison) and vegetable-based jerkies and chews. If it’s your dog’s birthday, there are canine equivalents of cake mix and brownie mix, as well as biscuits made from the spent grains from beer.
Toppers come in small bottles of pumpkin broth and chicken broth, which can be sprinkled on top of kibble for a change of pace.
A display case at the back of the store highlights a changing selection of dog cookies. Some have seasonal designs and shapes (hearts for Valentine’s Day) and some are good fun year-round (the classic fire hydrant).
While the treats sound delicious, making sure they’re healthy is one of her priorities. “The things that you won’t see in the ingredients are salt and sugar,” she said.
A popular item in the toy section is the Yak Stick, a hard cheese stick made from yak milk. Naturally shed elk antlers are another long chew that dogs love. The long-lasting Tuffy line of chew toys comes in shapes that include rabbits and alligators.
“When I opened the shop, a couple people did come in out of curiosity and told me they didn’t have pups, but they did have cats, so I created a kitty corner,” she said. “We have soft baked treats, crunchy treats, kitty ice cream and kitty wine with organic catnip.”
The shop’s décor includes a selection of Silva’s artwork.
“I paint in my spare time as a hobby and when I thought about opening the shop, I had lots of paintings, but I didn’t feel like I had anything that would really fit the character of the store,” she said. “So I decided to just get kind of creative and paint different dogs. They’re just simple dog heads with different expressions and with little bits of clothing to make them appear human-like. It was fun creating them.”
Silva previously worked as a residential designer for over 20 years. Her husband, Peter Silva, owns Harbor Construction, which is based in the same building.
Part of her vision for the store is supporting local animal shelters. Part of that will be through financial donations, but she also plans to collect gently used items that shelters need and encourage adoptions.
“When people come in, they are excited to tell me where they got their pup, and a lot of them are rescues,” she said. “The fun part of this shop is that we’re pet-friendly, and I’ve probably had over 150 or so pups come in for their very first time. Not only does it make the pups happy, but it makes their parents happy as well to be able to have a destination, to bring their dog in and to get some free treats and just check out the wonderful inventory.”
Kupcakes and Kibble, 29 Main St., Plymouth; kupcakesandkibble.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 774-343-5368.