Updog Boutique sales tick up during pandemic


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This article was published 05/01/2021 (881 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Shoplifters at Leslie Watson’s business usually have four legs and run away carrying their stolen goods in their mouths.

“We’ve had a few puppy shoplifters,” she said.

Watson, a St. Vital resident, opened Updog Boutique in June 2019 after she and her father renovated a 14-foot trailer to create a mobile shop. The trailer, with a ramp to allow canine customers to walk up, was open for business at Winnipeg dog parks, pop-up markets, Winnipeg Beach’s Boardwalk Days and a charity event in Morden throughout that summer. Little did she know that what she thought would be a seasonal business would become her main employment focus due to the pandemic.

Photo by Andrea Geary Updog Boutique owner Leslie Watson and her goldendoodle Murtaugh have enjoyed a busy holiday season.

“This (Updog Boutique) was supposed to be my side hustle,” Watson said.

Watson’s career is in theatre, where she has worked as a stage manager for many years. In 2017, she and her husband were shopping for supplies for their new puppy Murtaugh, a goldendoodle. Watson said they were primarily looking for locally-made items that were unique and well made, but the chain pet supply stores they visited didn’t carry such items.

Looking online, she discovered that she faced high shipping costs for many of the products she liked. This prompted her to consider opening her own business to offer dog owners a choice of products not available through other Winnipeg retailers.

“I felt there needs to be a specialty store to bring in more unique, handmade items,” she said.

After spotting a mobile canine boutique operating in the States, Watson decided to take the plunge and invest in the trailer. Her aim was to take her goods to where local dog owners congregate, and she said the reception to her business was very positive.

“We got a great reception,” she said. “My target market is the dog dad and dog mom.”

While she was getting some orders through Instagram, she fully intended to take her mobile business on the road again in 2020 but COVID-19 restrictions made this difficult.

Her theatrical career was temporarily put on hold when live theatre companies shut their doors last March. She said this gave her extra time needed to move her business online.

“I took a solid week and built my website.”

This involved taking photos of items from the 40 brands she carries, which include human clothing items and accessories with a doggie theme, such as her official dog walker hoodie, sweat pants and tumbler.

For her four-legged customers, she offers a broad range of toys, accessories and clothing with an emphasis on environmentally-friendly merchandise and products made locally. She also offers printed bandanas that say, ‘I Poop in St. Vital’ and ‘Proud Transcona Pup’ that can be customized to reflect where the dog lives.

“One of my favourite products is treats made by Happy Daisy Gourmet Dog Food in Oak Bluff,” Watson said. She also mentioned fellow St. Vital resident Katie Kitchen’s Lewis & Clark Collar Co., which sells unique collars and leashes.

Watson offers curbside pickup at her home and delivery within city limits on orders over $40.
She’s had a busy holiday season and quickly sold out of most of her holiday-themed merchandise.

“I underestimated the demand,” she admitted.

The ongoing campaign to buy local has helped her business.

“It’s been really great — the shop local movement,” she said.

While her online business has been good, she’s hoping that she’ll be able to run her mobile shop again this spring, summer and fall as her schedule permits.

“I like to see my human and pup customers in-person.”

For more information on Updog Boutique, see or on Facebook and Instagram.

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at

Andrea Geary

Andrea Geary
St. Vital community correspondent

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.

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