Chew on This
Grooming Business: How did Acadia Antlers get started? How does your approach to producing high-quality, natural treats and chews set you apart from other companies in the category?
Carol Plescia: I don’t think we started Acadia Antlers, I think Acadia started us. My sons and I had taken a summer vacation in Maine and stopped at a roadside stand, right outside the Acadia National Forest to look at a bunch of moose antler sheds being sold as souvenirs to tourists. At the time, I had a consignment business on eBay and thought these would be a neat thing to sell. I had asked the man selling them if I could sell them for him on the Internet. That is how it all began. The next summer was our debut at that very same roadside stand, and it just took off from there.
My many trips back and forth to Maine have given me the pleasure of meeting some of the most incredible people who have shared their life stories and talents with me. I have been taught all about moose antlers by authentic and long-time shed gatherers and guidesmen. I am proud to have built great relationships in Maine, and I travel back and forth to inspect every load of antler I buy. I also still cut every piece of antler I sell. Selling quality moose antler dog chews is the primary focus of Acadia Antlers, and our loyal fan base recognizes that our products are superior to those found in big-box stores and chains. We will only sell products sourced and made in America—we will never change that.
Acadia Antlers is a family owned business—it is just me and my sons Ryan and Kyle. We travel all over the country to do shows and meet our customers and help them pick chews that are just right for their dogs. Our customers are part of our family, and their dogs are part of our pack. I think that meeting people and their pets face to face is a huge part of what makes us different in the marketplace. We truly are a small family owned business, trying to bring quality made-in-the-USA products to the marketplace. Consumers value that.
GB: What are some of Acadia Antlers’ best-selling products? What are the key features of these items?
Plescia: We want our customers to buy products that are going to become part of their dogs’ everyday life. We suggest that the first purchase is our Taster cut. It is an affordable way to see if your dog likes moose antler dog chews. Once you know the dog is happy with it, then you move up to a size-appropriate piece. We have antlers for dogs as small as five pounds and up to a couple of hundred pounds.
We are proud to cater to Power Chewers. When dogs blow through indestructible toys in about 10 minutes, Acadia Antlers is their next stop. Our Pitbull Pacifiers and Powerhouse Splits last for months and months, when size-appropriate pieces are bought.
One of our most interesting products that appeals to a wider audience is our Moose Dust. It is ground moose antler that was intended to be a food topper for dogs when they get fussy with their kibble, but it has also become a very popular calcium supplement for raw diets too.
The dogs are so drawn to our moose dust (almost like the reaction cats have to catnip) that we have developed a strong tie to the grooming industry using it. Groomers that have more difficult dogs to groom find holding a bottle of Acadia Antlers Moose Dust in front of the dog or sprinkling some on the table is enough to mesmerize them. There is no mess, like using peanut butter or other treats, and our dust is hypoallergenic and doesn’t spoil. Both our antlers and our dust will keep the dogs busy and entertained while being groomed, making for happier dogs and much less time on the table, allowing for more appointments during the day. The result is more earnings for the shop and the owner. The groomers like that there is less physical effort with Acadia products in play; they aren’t wrestling to hold dogs down. Face cuts, nails and all the rest become much less of a challenge, and again no worries because it is hypoallergenic and clean—there is no mess or odor, so their work stays perfect.
GB: Tell us about Acadia Antlers’ partnership with the U.S. War Dogs Association. Does the company do any other philanthropic work?
Plescia: Our family always believes it is important to give back. We decided right from the start that Acadia Antlers charity of choice would be the U.S. Military Working Dogs. We work with great people like Ron Aiello of the U.S. War Dog Association and Frank Yevchak of Support Our 4 Legged Soldiers to get Acadia Antlers out to not only the working war dogs overseas in Afghanistan and Kuwait, but also the retired U.S. war dogs stateside.
Military working dogs work tirelessly to protect our deployed soldiers and our country, and we feel strongly that this heroism should be recognized. We received such a favorable response from the military dog handlers and trainers that we developed a program where now anyone can donate an Acadia Antler to these heroes directly from our website. The response has been incredible. Our country is full of patriotism, and people that not only love their dogs, can now show love to these military canine heroes as well.
Our family’s values run parallel to the values of every family that loves animals. We believe in the greatness of animal rescues, and we want to help to find forever homes for all the animals in need. Acadia Antlers is proud to team up with non-profit rescues and charities and give back 25 percent of our sales directly to the groups that we team up with. This money helps them fund the immediate unexpected expenses as well as the everyday expenses associated with the care of their animals. Our program is outlined on our philanthropy page on our website (acadiaantlers.com). Any non-profit rescue is welcome to apply.
We are so excited to also be a Platinum Partner in this year’s I’m Not a Monster Holiday Drive (monsterholidaydrive.com), working with over 70 huge Facebook dogs and pages, we are trying to build up stockpiles of supplies for shelters across America to make for happy holidays for pets waiting in shelters to find their forever homes. It is incredible to be part of this team and to watch all of the good that unfolds. Together, we can make a difference.
GB: What makes groomers well-suited to sell products like Acadia Antlers treats and chews?
Plescia: I think selling quality products—products you believe in and use with your own pets—in a grooming salon is appreciated by customers . It doesn’t have to be a lot. People will always consider buying something for their dog, and Acadia Antlers is perfect in that setting. It is a clean chew. It is an economical, non-splintering, long-lasting chew with no mess or odor—so all the beautiful work that a groomer does stays beautiful. Try our product with your own dogs. See what we mean when we say, it is a clean chew. Once you understand that, the rest is easy.
We are a small company and make it our business to work with other small businesses. We understand that it isn’t always financially possible to keep a large inventory of products. We will help you develop a plan to try to slowly develop another stream of income for your shop selling Acadia Antlers.
GB: What does the future hold for the all-natural chews and treats categories, and for Acadia Antlers?
Plescia: One thing is for sure, Americans are tired of buying products made in China, India and other countries. People really take notice of where products are made. The public is becoming more and more aware.
I think the all-natural chews and treats category is growing every day—being a responsible pet owner, and learning more and more options are all part of the curve. Acadia Antlers is proud to only sell all-natural products that we give our own pets, made from ingredients sourced only in USA, and made here in USA—we are proud to also create jobs here in America.