Unleashing the Potential of Wag Days Philly

by Rachel Hazzard
April 11, 2024

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If you’ve taken a stroll through any Philadelphia neighborhood lately, you’ve likely noticed you’re sharing the sidewalk with more than just your neighborhood humans. Dogs rule this city, with pups living in almost one-third of all homes in Philly. Anyone with a dog knows they’re more than just a pet, they’re family. So, when you can’t be with your pup, you want to make sure they’re receiving quality care. Enter Wag Days Philly, where they treat your dog like family.

Wags Days Founder Nora Rogers is a pet person with a passion for pups. She began her career in education, teaching 3rd grade in the Philadelphia School District for four years before going back to school for her masters in educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. While in grad school, she took a job as an administrator for an entrepreneurial major, and found herself inspired by the students looking to start their own businesses. “I loved teaching, and I was good at it, but always had the itch to do something on my own,” said Rogers. As an animal lover and exercise enthusiast, opening a dog walking and boarding business was a no brainer.

Wag Days opened in 2019 as a small dog walking and in-home boarding business. Since its inception, it has expanded to a brick-and-mortar daycare location in South Philadelphia’s Bok Building offering boarding and specialty daycare services. Their Puppy Enrichment Daycare was created for puppies as young as nine weeks old who normally are not eligible for traditional dog daycares. Wags Days creates a safe environment that allows puppies to thrive and learn while being properly socialized with other dogs. They also offer Enrichment Daycare for adult dogs that need a little extra TLC, allowing shy or especially energetic dogs thrive in the daycare who wouldn’t normally in a traditional daycare setting. “Adding the enrichment daycare program has been a huge success,” said Rogers. “Even though it’s at a higher price point, 40 percent of our clients opt into the enrichment program each week.”

Opening during the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge, but looking back, Rogers is proud of what she was able to accomplish. “Wag Days was set to open on March 16, 2020, which was the day the government shut down the country. My building wouldn’t allow anyone in for months until I begged them to allow me to open my doors,” said Rogers. “I opened a business that heavily relied on people going to work. I was able to convince my customers that although they were home with their dogs, their dogs were not getting the proper socialization and exercise sitting on the couch all day. This wasn’t easy but I was able to fill the daycare and bring on five staff members within my first year!”

“If you have a good idea that you believe in and if you believe in yourself then do it. I always say the worst thing that happens is it doesn’t work out and you try something else.”

Nora Rogers
Founder of Wag Days

After seeing strong growth at her South Philadelphia location, Rogers decided to expand to a second location and reached out to PIDC for help. During lease negotiation, she knew she would need help purchasing the 40+ boarding kennels, sound proofing, and other equipment for the new space, and PIDC was able to fund the fit-out of the new location.  “Once up and running, my Fishtown/East Kensington location is projected to bring in over $1.5million in revenue per year,” said Rogers. “The largest revenue stream will be dog boarding which would not have been possible without my PIDC loan.”

Rogers has sound advice for other women considering entrepreneurship. “Do it,” she said. “If you have a good idea that you believe in and if you believe in yourself then do it. I always say the worst thing that happens is it doesn’t work out and you try something else. However, if you believe in yourself and properly set up your business for success you can and will thrive in Philadelphia. No one ever wins by sitting back and letting everyone else take advantage of opportunities. We live in a world where entrepreneurship is the key to success and happiness for a lot of people.”

The new Wag Days location opens this May. The 6,000-square-foot daycare has an indoor play space, courtyard, and space for boarding, making it a haven for pet owners and pups alike. PIDC is thrilled to support this growing small business, and can’t wait to see more wagging tails in the neighborhood soon!

Learn more about PIDC’s financing opportunities for businesses.

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