During this year's national SMART Jewelry Show staged in Chicago, Ill., the rest of the country learned what most islanders already know: Lily the Labradoodle is one very special dog.
On April 4, Dan Schuyler and Karen Bell, co-owners of the Sanibel-based Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery, were quite surprised when their company's "spokesdog" was selected as the winner of the Top Dog award, a competition between the top dogs in jewelry retail. More than 35 dogs entered the contest to become the leading canine in the industry.
"At one point, GE Money (sponsors of the contest) let us know that we were in the top 50 before we learned Lily had made the top 10," said Schuyler. "We not only entered photos for the contest, but we also submitted a short movie. Later on, we learned that we were the only one who submitted a movie."
According to INSTORE magazine, promoters of the trade show, "Lily fulfills her responsibilities as Top Dog in the shop's everyday activities. She acts as a 'face of the brand,' modeling jewelry on the website and acting as the face of the store’s ad campaigns. Lily greets customers and is always there to provide a 'tail wag' of approval when selecting pieces to showcase."
However, show promoters had a difficult time letting Schuyler and Bell that their Top Dog had won. The pair, who were invited to speak on an experts panel during the three-day exhibit, were on their way to Wrigley Field to celebrate Schuyler's wife Sharon's birthday.
"Somebody called the store here on Sanibel looking for us," Dan added with a laugh. "But we were in Chicago on our way to the Cubs game. They finally tracked us down, but we had to go back to the hotel to get our show badges so we could get in!"
The second place winner for Top Dog was Hopper, a Pomeranian from Blocher Jewelers in Elwood City, Pa. The third place award was given to LoLa from Closson's Jewelers in Ludington, Mich.
"We are one of the few jewelry stores that use a dog in our marketing, but I think the only one that uses her in all of our advertising campaigns, not just one or two ads," Schuyler added. "Lily is the brand. And not a day goes by that Karen isn't taking Lily for a walk and somebody will stop her and ask, 'Is that the dog on all the billboards?'"
In addition to Schuyler and Bell's Top Dog trophies, Lily trotted home with a special “Top Dog” collar and a doggie gift basket, not to mention barking (bragging) rights that would make any dog howl.
Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery owners Karen Bell and Dan Schuyler display their Top Dog trophies along with company 'spokesdog' Lily as well as canine pals Gracie and Angel.