By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal

TUPELO • The newest hotel in the area has gone to the dogs, literally.

Macy’s Townhouse for Dogs is exactly what it sounds like – a place for canines to enjoy the comforts of home – a doggie hotel, if you will. It’s a 24-hour, staffed daycare and boarding located at Carnation and South Gloster streets near Crosstown.

Behind the project is David York, a well-traveled entrepreneur with a penchant for fine art and, of course, dogs.

York grew up on his family farm outside of Memphis and went to Mississippi State University, but had other ties with Northeast Mississippi.

“I met Mary Connor McCollough Adcock and we’d come to Tupelo some weekends to visit, then I was working for First National Bank in Jackson after college,” he said. “Then I started working for McRae’s in the management training program and they sent me to Tupelo.”

From there, York’s career skyrocketed.

He accepted a job with Macy’s in New York, helping the famed retailer develop private-label brands. He shared an office with the likes of Andrew Traub, William Lauder, (chairman of Estee Lauder Companies), Rose Marie Bravo (now vice chairman of Burberry) and other famed designers and entrepreneurs. That team also developed what would become Aeropostale.

His stellar career would bring him back to the All-America City, however.

“I had a great career up there, and then started opening restaurants with my sisters, and we got to store 30, and it ended up being in Tupelo,” York said. “The name of the chain was Dumplings, and we sold the chain right after we opened it. So I found myself back in Tupelo, and then I moved to Atlanta and Dallas and started a dog boarding business.”

Growing up on a farm, York had a lifelong affinity for animals, especially dogs, which his how Barking Hound Village was developed in 1998. One of the first “doggie daycares “in the U.S., it grew to eight locations in Atlanta, one in Austin and one in Dallas.

He sold BHV in 2017, but kept a vast treasure of dog memorabilia, which led him back to Tupelo. York had an event in Dallas to display some of his collection, and Adcock and her sister, Sarah, came to visit.

“I was talking about bringing the collection through Birmingham and doing the loop back up to the East Coast, and we started talking about Macy’s,” York said. Macy was a dog that Sarah had found on the side of the highway near Winona, and Adcock wound up adopting Macy.

“We were talking about Macy and dogs, and maybe how we need to get some museum things here and maybe even a small dog hotel,” he said.

And thus was born Macy’s Townhouse, named after the dog, and the retailer.

In the lobby of Macy’s Townhouse is some of York’s dog-related memorabilia, including photographs paintings, toys, antique collars and statues. Some of the artwork is by Brian Nash, a former Ralph Lauren director of marketing turned artist with works in galleries across the country. York also has a larger collection at the Museum of Dog, which he opened in the Berkshires last year in North Adams, Massachusetts.

But it’s the small-town charm of Tupelo where York brought his big ideas.

“North Mississippi is unbelievable,” he said. “I can’t believe I lived in Tupelo 35 years ago and what’s happening here and around the area. It’s a story you don’t see in the United States in towns of 35,000 … and it’s so easy doing business here. What would have taken me eight months in Dallas or Atlanta just took a few days. It’s been incredible.”

York wanted a location in town and fairly intimate. While boarding dogs at a kennel and having them do go “doggie daycare” isn’t something new, having a full-service doggie hotel is. So he wanted to dip his toes – or paws – lightly.

“I saw this building on this strip of Gloster and it was the only one zoned for what I wanted to do,” he said.

Booming business

While Macy’s is a small business for now, the pet industry overall is quite large. According to the American Pet Products Association, revenue in the pet industry is expected to hit more than $75 billion this year, compared to $72.5 billion in 2018. Roughly 65 percent of American households have at least one pet. Nearly 90 million dogs live in U.S. households.

So opportunities abound for something like Macy’s Townhouse.

There are suites downstairs and upstairs, enough to accommodate 20 dogs depending on their sizes. A kitchen also is available.

During boarding, the dogs will be taken outside up to six times a day. A grassy area behind the building also has some shade trees.

“The last break is about 8 or 9 p.m., but the parents can choose the schedule to keep them on the same routine at home, and they can bring the dog’s bedding and pillows if they want,” York said. “And if they have a special diet, we can cook for them. We can do all those things, and we’re here all night. Then the next day we start the first breaks at 7 a.m. There’s also plenty of time available on the sofas, and if they’re not allowed, on the floors or wherever.”

A small playroom is available for day boarding as well.

Boarding costs $24 per 24-hour period for one dog and $12 for an additional dog sharing the same suite. Daycare is $16 per dog, per day. Multiple-day and multiple-dog family discounts are available.

Dog owners – or parents, as York likes to refer to call them – have to fill out paperwork and have the dogs’ shot records up to date before boarding. And anyone is welcome to tour the facility and admire the dog memorabilia.

Macy’s is modeled after Barking Dog Village, which was inspired by York’s desire to have a place for his beloved dog, Sophie, to stay while he traveled.

“The company I owned and sold, there weren’t many around when I started it,” York said. “I couldn’t find any place to put my dog, and I wanted to travel. In major cities, so many people have condos and apartments, and when they come home from work, they really want their dogs to have some exercise. But they might be tired and the dogs is ready to rock and roll.”

In Dallas, the BDV facility saw some 600 dogs a day.

“These smaller markets like Tupelo, the need is just starting to grow,” York said.

As for the dog memorabilia, York hopes to capitalize and hold events in the area and perhaps statewide to publicize the plight of homeless animals. The Museum of Dog also has been a traveling collection doing just that.

“When I was in New England, it seemed like a third of the dogs up there came from the South because there are so many transports coming from there,” he said. “I just listened and listened, not knowing I’d end up back here, but as I’ve been here, I’ve become aware of how much animals need here, and hopefully we can play a part to make a dent in the problem.

“I just love having dogs around, and this is a fun way of doing it.”

As for being back in Mississippi and in Tupelo, York is savoring the moment.

“This place is so vibrant,” he said. “Most main streets have hit some demise, but the restaurants here – the food is incredible. The creatives, the businesses are unbelievable. I’ve been all over the country, and I just haven’t seen this North Mississippi thing anywhere. I grew up here when I was little, but I’m just amazed at what’s happened. And there’s a lot that we want to do here, and I’m excited about it.”