Jan. 11, 2006 - Pima County's pampered pouches and their owners have a new place to shop with the opening of a dog and cat retail store in the Foothills.

Muttropolis opened Jan. 7 in La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Drive.

The 2,500-square-foot store opened its doors after months of construction and eager anticipation by Tucson shoppers, said Janet McCulley, owner and one of the founding partners of Muttropolis.

Muttropolis specializes in, among other things, pet fashions, all-natural dog and cat food and specialty pet beds.

"We're retail for pets and their parents," McCulley said. "Pets are bona fide members of families. Our pets are our kids and our passion."

The idea for an haute couture pet store came to the owners of Muttropolis four years ago. McCulley worked for 10 years in corporate marketing and began to realize there was a niche that wasn't being filled in the pet world.

In November 2002, the first Muttropolis opened in California, offering "high-end, design-driven products," McCulley said.

"We knew it was a concept that had legs," she said.

Muttropolis locations are privately owned, not franchised, she said, which assures quality control of the merchandise and design of the stores.

The La Encantada location is the first store to open outside of California. The owners knew they needed to bring their product to Tucson, because many customers in their California stores were from Pima County.

Muttropolis has four locations and within the next year, five more locations are set to open.

At Muttropolis, the pets are as welcomed as the customers. Employees are encouraged to bring their pets in while they work and, of course, no matter the size, breed or temperament, customer's animals are always welcome, McCulley said.

The store is decked out in a dog-and cat design. Every detail has been looked at with an animal-friendly eye. The floor tiles are fabricated to look like a grassy meadow, a fountain filled with doggie chew toys is reminiscent of what you would see at your local dog park and a spa station is filled to capacity with everything the domesticated animals could want, from shampoos and conditioners to nail polish.

Prices range from affordable to downright decadent. A 16-ounce ceramic Cosmo-paw-litan shaped dog bowl costs $35. A Pawty Girl pearl dress costs $79.

Muttropolis offers a wide selection of pet beds, in many shapes, sizes and colors. A small Fatboy Doggie Lounger will cost $110 and a Saigon Day Bed is priced from $499 to $649, according to the stores official Web site.

No matter what the customer, dog or cat is looking for, McCulley is certain Muttropolis will carry it.

"We have everything for all budgets," she said.

Manager Anne Bryan is excited to finally open the doors and bring the world of pet couture to Tucson.

"It's going to be our home," she said. "It's going to be fabulous."

One aspect of Muttropolis that keeps growing is the idea of working with local shelters and rescue organizations. Weekly adoption events are held in the California stores and will likely be continued in Tucson.

"Tucson is a wonderful market with a lot of pet lovers and pet parents," McCulley said. "And we look forward to partnering with local charities."

La Encantada is a pet-friendly outdoor shopping plaza, said Kai Hsiao, senior marketing director for La Encantada. To equip the plaza for the increase in pet traffic, two dog stations have been constructed, along with a dog walk behind the building.

La Encantada shoppers are encouraged to bring their pets to shop right along with them, Hsiao said. It is all part of enjoying what Tucson shopping has to offer, he said.

Erin Schmidt covers the Catalina Foothills and schools. She can be reached at 797-4384 ext 129 or eschmidt@explorernews.com.

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