February 2018

Tail Wiggles: Where Pets Are at the Heart of It All

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Big Sweeties could be the best way to describe Janet Wiggers and her team at Tail Wiggles pet supply store in Village at Wexford, or it could be the name of the homemade sweet potato treats she sells there—or it could be both. Their customers would absolutely say, both. Celebrating 20 years in business, Wiggers, who purchased the Hilton Head Island shop in 2014, has grown it into a hub with a heart, where dog and cat lovers find toys and treats, high-quality (sometimes hard to find) foods, accessories, and expertise.

And yes, Big Sweeties are the homemade sweet potato treats Wiggers’s dad makes for the shop. Grant Cully began making the dehydrated snacks for a family pet who suffered with allergies. “They are 100 percent sweet potato,” she said. Now they are a favorite treat for pets with or without allergies. Check out the video of Cully making a batch on their Facebook page. Of course, the family dogs are in the background, working their charms to collect all the leftovers.

Stocking some of the most creative, colorful, toys and accessories is a big part of what customers first see at Wiggers’s darling shop. However, it is the research and attention to every detail that sets Tail Wiggles apart. Nearly an entire wall is dedicated to toys that stand up to real punishment. Fluff & Tuff plush toys can take a lot of wear and tear, literally. Made with destruction-discouraging materials, Wiggers said, “These are a best-seller, and are the longest lasting toys we have.”

The Tail Wiggles crew would agree that the way to a pet’s heart (and often the motivation to train) is through his or her stomach. The shop stocks some of the tastiest, healthiest, and often prettiest treats imaginable, along with a wide range of specialty pet foods. High quality, nutritious ingredients are at the heart of every edible at Tail Wiggles. The Beach Biscuits are made locally, with a peanut butter and honey base, and have only five ingredients. “Well, technically they have six, because one of the ingredients listed is love,” Wiggers said.

When it comes to anything pet-related, Wiggers encourages questions. “If you have a special need or want to learn more, just ask. When it comes to feeding your animal, we can pair you up with the right product and the right ingredients to meet their needs.” Customers have made Stella & Chewy’s and Dr. Harvey’s pet foods some of the best-selling products in her inventory.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for Dr. Harvey’s,” she said. “It’s a base mix for a raw diet—a freeze-dried, premade mix with vitamins and vegetables. All you do is add water and meat.” With two dogs and three cats of her own, Wiggers is a fan. “We actually use Stella & Chewy’s as our meat mix and add it to the Dr. Harvey’s to come up with a healthy meal.”

When Wiggers learned that their point-of-sale receipt included a place for a tip, just like in restaurants, she decided to put the anomaly to use. “Each month, we change the charity, and 100 percent of the donated tips go to that organization.” The Tail Wiggles TIP program is going into its second year, and thanks entirely to their customer’s generosity, nearly $5,000 was donated to local animal-related charities last year.

Fridays are special at Tail Wiggles; the team hosts a rescue dog from the Hilton Head Humane Association at the store from noon to 3 p.m. The visitor gets a lot of tender loving care, a break from shelter life, and greets customers, all with the hope of finding a forever home. Customers also look forward to their monthly cookie count contest where guessing the number of cookies in the jar, without going over (“Price is Right rules,” Wiggers said) earns the winner a pound of the treats.

Of course, four-legged customers are always welcome at Tail Wiggles. Monty, Stewie, Tallulah, Max, Abby, and Madeline are just a few of the pups who frequent the shop, Wiggers said. “Monty walks over from Wexford [Plantation] with his pals Stewie and Tallulah. When taking a break from work on New Orleans Road, Max and Abby stroll over for a treat, and Madeline usually arrives in a bike basket.

“In October, Monty had an impromptu birthday party at the shop, with hats and cookies for his friends.” Monty even has his own Instagram account (monty_the_monster_pup) where he recently posted a picture of himself playing in the snow wearing his jacket from Tail Wiggles. Tallulah also shares her adventures on Instagram (TallulahCarolina).

Wiggers keeps her customers in-the-know with an entertaining and informative monthly newsletter where she shares expert advice on the care and keeping of pets, treat recipes, product spotlights, special events and celebrations, recommendations for local dog-friendly restaurants, and more. Customers may sign-up for the newsletter when they visit the store, or email the team via their website. Also, be on the lookout for Tail Wiggles e-commerce site, coming soon, where customers will shop and pay for their purchase, and make a quick stop by the shop for pick-up. Mail order will also be an option.

When not taking care of Tail Wiggles and their many friends, Wiggers and her husband Andy are literally running. “It’s all for fun,” she said. “In 2014, we did 14 5K and 10K races together, and we just finished 17 races in 2017.” Of note, they also completed 15 races in 2015 and 16 races in 2016. She is now working on a program in conjunction with the Hilton Head Humane Association whereby runners will be scheduled to take a rescue for a run—exercise all around, and more interaction for the animals who are up for adoption.

Big Sweeties: yes, definitely both a treat, and the best way to describe Janet Wiggers and her team at Tail Wiggles. Sit…stay…good dog.

Tail Wiggles is in Village at Wexford, 1000 William Hilton Parkway, Suite E1, Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (843) 686-3707 or visit tailwiggles.com.

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