Miami Herald - SHOPPING SAFARI
WEBSITE GIVES DOGS THEIR DAY by Annie Vasquez
Forget about fashioning a plain collar and leash on your dog. That's just so passť.
If you don't know what I mean, just open up a fashion magazine and you'll see celebs such as Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears dressing their pooches in the latest designer duds and toting them around in Louis Vuitton carriers.
West Kendall resident Laly Albalate caught on to the doggie-pampering trend a year ago and opened up GreatestStoreOnEarth.com -- an online boutique that sells everything from spa products for your pup to party planning for your dog's birthday or wedding reception.
Albalate, 49, said her store is unique because it offers services such as pet-sitting, party planning and catering -- in addition to selling clothing and accessories.
As far as retail products go, she said none of her offerings could be found at regular pet stores, including Petsmart or Pet Supermarket. ''We have exclusive items like wedding dresses and Swarovski necklaces,'' she said.
In the clothing section of the website, you can find some trendy T-shirts emblazoned with a message for $19. Some choices are: ''Got Treats,'' ''Bad To The Bone'' and ``Just Chew It.''
But if your doggy is more of an athlete or you just want to dress him in adorable workout gear for the daily walk, check out the $20 Sporty Hooded sweatshirts. I personally liked the sage-colored sweatshirt with the basketball emblem for my dog, Buda.
And if I had a female dog, I would totally bling her out in a Swarovski necklace. These crystal necklaces start at $36 and go to $148. They come in all sorts of funky colors and styles.
As far as treats go, the gourmet goodies Albalate sells come from her own line, Animalicious Treats.
''Everything is wholesome and healthy,'' she said. ``We don't use sugar; instead, we use sweeteners such as molasses.''
Chef Mercy Vera, 40, prepares all of the delectable dishes, such as wedding cakes and yogurt cannolis. She said birthday cakes are their biggest seller.
Country Walk resident Iris Hyatt said she hired Albalate to cater a birthday party for Cuca, her dachshund. ``Laly is great. She worked around my budget of $200 and prepared everything from the cake to treats to hats and placemats,''Hyatt said.
Besides hiring Albalate for her dog's party, Hyatt said she has bought dog carriers for her four dogs and always stocks up on gourmet doggie treats. ''My dogs love the cupcakes and cookies,'' she said.
Although Greateststoreonearth.com caters to pups only, Albalate's pet-sitting service caters to most animals.
''We pet-sit everything from dogs, birds, potbelly pigs and cats,'' she said. The pet-sitting service is offered to residents in Kendall, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.
It offers things such as grooming, feeding and exercising your pet. The service can cost between $18 to $25 a visit.
For more information, check out the website:
Greateststoreonearth.com or call 305-710-7266.
Posted on Sun. May 1, 2005
Shopping Safari is a Herald feature that periodically sends reporters out to take a closer look at some of the stores in the neighborhood. If you have a strip mall or a mom and pop place you want us to check out, e-mail avazquez@ herald.com.
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