Walk into the right shop along East Passyunk Avenue on a Sunday afternoon and you might catch a whiff of freshly baked cookies straight out of the oven. But this is no ordinary bakery – Amelie’s Bark Shop serves up tasty treats including cookies, cakes, and pies for dogs and cats.
Amelie’s Bark Shop is a favorite among pet owners in South Philly and beyond. And on November 24, the pet boutique and bakery will celebrate its 4th anniversary in conjunction with Small Business Saturday.
“I’ve been baking pet treats for a long time. Giving my pets healthy and safe treats they enjoy is really important to me. And I love that I can make them for the neighbors I live and work with here in the heart of South Philly,” said Jackie Starker, the owner of Amelie’s.
The shop, located across from the Singing Fountain at 1544 East Passyunk Ave., has become a staple of the surrounding pet community. There, owners can find a selection of hand-picked pet food, treats, toys, and accessories. In addition to Starker’s shop-baked cookies and custom cakes, many of the bandanas, bow ties, cat wands, and other items in the store are handmade by local artisans (including her own mom and one of her employees!) – much of the stock at Amelie’s can only be found there.
Other, less tangible things are only at Amelie’s, too, like Starker’s pet nutrition insight. Each day, she helps owners find the perfect food for their pets out of a variety of premium dry, wet, and raw food, as well as supplements. Above all else, Starker said she strives to create a healthy shopping experience for owners and the pets they love, extensively researching each item in store and keeping tabs on every brand to make sure the quality remains the same. If a brand is bought by low-quality conglomerate or experiences repeated recalls, she’ll pull it from her shelves.
“I wanted to create a place where people would always know it’s safe to shop. I have confidence in all of the items we sell, and that’s so important in the pet industry,” Starker said.
The store is named for Starker’s own dog, Amelie, a 11 year-old shih-tzu mix with a sensitive stomach. Starker said she began making treats for Amelie shortly after adopting her as a puppy when she began considering the impact of artificially-flavored and unnaturally-colored foods containing fillers empty of nutrients for pets. Two cats, Penny and Don Draper, also help refine Starker’s own personal experience with finicky pets.
At Amelie’s, the store-baked treats are created with wholesome ingredients like nutrient-rich flour and unsweetened yogurt frosting with plant-based coloring, and owners can choose from options including dog-friendly peanut butter, bacon, and pumpkin. Her custom pet cakes are created with these same wholesome ingredients – and dogs love them. After all, sprinkles and red dye are more enjoyable for humans to look at than they are for dogs to eat, she said.
Starker has been baking treats at Amelie’s since 2014, renting the storefront for three years before buying the store and upstairs apartment in May, 2017. She said she’s proud to be one of the over 55 women who own businesses along the avenue.
Before becoming a full-time business owner and part-time pet baker, Starker studied industrial design. She’s since brought that knowledge and her passion for pets together, as she designed all of the store’s elements, including the shelving and decor. Along the walls are portraits of many of Amelie’s beloved customers. They’re one of the best parts of being a business owner, she said.
Join Starker at Amelie’s on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for a day of exclusive Small Business Saturday delights in addition to the usual handmade goodies and nutritional expertise.