Wiggle Butz Gourmet Pet Bakery LLC, a family business since 2007, is now opening up its first location on Columbia Boulevard.
You may have seen the homemade treats at All About Pets in Scappoose or online on Etsy, but now, the owner Donna LeBleu is taking the business one step further.
Ten years ago, she was a stay-at-home mother with two boys and LeBleu needed something to do. After searching the internet, she decided to start baking – not for humans, but for our furry friends.
LeBleu said it was right at the time when China was selling really bad treats and dogs were getting sick, so the timing was right.
She first started selling her treats at All About Pets. “They kind of helped me get my feet wet in it,” LeBleu said. “It started out with a little tiny basket and I kind of worked my way up.”
She said All About Pets has been really good to her and that she appreciates them getting the word out about her.
After developing a following, LeBleu started selling on Etsy, an online marketplace focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies.
“That’s when it really took off,” LeBleu said. She said she sells a lot of birthday platters and get-well platters, and little wedding-cake cookies have become quite popular as well.
“Dogs have taken a role in weddings… they do treat packages at weddings for people to take home,” LeBleu said.
She said people would buy the get-well platters and give them to friends.
“Friends will give them to friends to wish their dog well,” LeBleu said. The platter includes medicine bottles that look like pills, but in fact the “pills” are treats.
LeBleu had to put her Etsy shop on pause while getting the shop on Columbia Boulevard in place.
“It was going very well - to the point that it was taking over my home,” she said. “We had cookie sheets over the piano and on every bookshelf. We decided it was time so we can get our home back.”
In addition to running Wiggle Butz, LeBleu has a regular job, and therefore chose to hire a manager to run the store. The new manager, Kaitlyn Smith, is of course a family-member and dog lover as well. Having been dating LeBleu’s son for over five years and owning a dog together, she was the right manager, according to LeBlue. Smith has been helping LeBleu in her home with decorating treats.
“She needed someone who could come down and run the business who knew most of it,” Smith said. “I volunteered to do it so I could work in town and with family.”
LeBleu has been working on preparing the shop since mid-February painting, stocking and decorating.
Originally from Scappoose, LeBleu wanted to settle the business in St. Helens so she wouldn’t interfere with the business of All About Pets, which is still going to sell her treats as well.
“There really isn’t even a place here in St. Helens to get a bag of dog food because I understand that the feed store is closing,” LeBleu said. “It kind of all worked with the spot and kitchen in it. It must have been the time for it cause it all came together.”
In the St. Helens-shop LeBleu will only be allowed to make and sell her cookies. “I found out all the regulations of what I can and can’t do and here I’m only allowed to do the cookies and not meat products. Maybe down the road we can do liver brownies and those kinds of things, but not right now,” she said.
“That’s something to look forward to I guess,” she said with a laugh.
LeBleu said she is excited to start baking birthday cakes and other occasional masterpieces she does not have to dry and dehydrate.
“We have to do that to a lot of our cookies so they don’t mold,” she said. “I’m looking forward to doing fresh birthday cakes and things that senior dogs can eat that’s not hard as a rock.”
Wiggle Butz Pet Bakery will have a soft opening on Friday, April 6 at 10 a.m.
According to Smith and LeBlue, there will be a grand opening in a few weeks after they have the bugs worked out of the system and things are where they are supposed to be. They want to be sure questions are answered and, hopefully, resolved.
“We hope to get feedback on things we may not have, but that people want to see,” Smith said. “Hopefully, a couple of weeks after the soft opening we can bring in a few more things if we need to.”
In addition to baked goods, the shop sells dog toys, beds that are made in Oregon, four different food lines and other smaller items that are dog themed too. Smith said they are open for recommendations for dog food and toys.
According to LeBleu, the plan is also to introduce “doggy ice-cream” in the future.
“We have a lot of ideas growing. It’s going to be really fun,” LeBleu said. “Maybe have different speakers come in to talk about hygiene, dental health and so on to get them in, promote our business and help them at the same time.”
LeBleu and Smith said they hope most of the dogs that will stop by are friendly dogs.
“You wouldn’t want an aggressive dog so we’re going to put a friendly reminder by the door, but I bought plastic bowls just in case to fill with Wiggle Butz treats,” she said while laughing.
If you wonder why LeBleu chose Wiggle Butz as the company’s name it is because of her elderly rat terrier.
“My husband used to call our little rat terrier “wiggle butt” cause he would be crazy happy,” she said.
The pet bakery will be open every day of the week.
“We’re really looking forward to meeting all the people and fur friends, and being a part of the community with events,” LeBleu said.