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Talking Shop: Who let the dogs in? This woman

Top Dog Barkery in Newport Beach offers just about everything a canine could want: food, facials, even adoption.

April 10, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Karen Mahmalji stands next to a display case of baked tasty treats for dogs of all sizes at the Top Dog Barkery in Newport Beach.
Karen Mahmalji stands next to a display case of baked tasty… (Don Leach, Daily…)

Karen Mahmalji is in it for the wagging tails.

It's common for the owner of Top Dog Barkery to see pooches, quivering with excitement, pulling their owners in the direction of the store.

"It's hilarious and we love it," said the 49-year-old Irvine resident. "The dog knows he's going to get his favorite treat, so that makes us laugh and it's a great feeling."

The venue — with its tagline, "The Dog Lover's Boutique and Bakery" — is located in the Corona del Mar Plaza alongside Chico's, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Sienna Brown, Brighton Collectibles and other shops. Its airy, sun-filled interiors, outfitted in muted yellow, red and black tones, showcase tables and shelves teeming with an assortment of customizable sweaters, toys, beds, food and more.

But the one-stop shop is not only for pets. Colorful photo frames, water tumblers, wine stoppers and paw-print coffee mugs also cater to those who love them. And Mahmalji makes a concerted effort to buy items bought in the United States.

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"Now that I'm in a small business, I realize the trends and that we need to support our own," she said. "I am a boutique shop and I really can't get everything that I need from a 'Made in America' source, but I try very hard to do that. Sometimes the prices are a little higher, but I hope people understand that that's what I'm aiming to do."

Laurie Allen of Newport Beach supplies whimsical and fun collars, leashes, harnesses and blankets to the store. As the owner of 72 Bark Place, she met Mahmalji about two years ago to offer tips about the dog business, and the pair struck up a friendship.

Although she supplies products to places in Huntington Beach, San Clemente and Laguna Beach, Top Dog Barkery is the only one in Newport Beach that sells her wares. That was a conscious decision, said Allen, 57, to avoid creating competition in the same city.

"It's a charming store," said Allen, who shopped there when her 10-year-old Labrador, Barney, who died earlier this year, was alive. "It's got really cute things and there's a lot of different stuff in here. I come here a lot and [see] people enjoying it — it's nice, friendly and fun, fun, fun."

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