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Make Your Cat Customers Feel at Home with a Dedicated Space to Merchandise

Some stores even have entire rooms dedicated to kitties.

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WHEN CAT PEOPLE VISIT your store, how do you make them feel? Appreciated as pet product consumers? Or neglected, as you only offer them food and a few other items, with minimal merchandising? These businesses strive for the former. Some even have entire rooms dedicated to kitties!

Flying M Feed Co.

HOUSTON, TX

The cat section only takes up 100 of the store’s 4,000 square feet, but a mural and range of products welcome all friends of felines. “We have everything from Purina to Fromm to Lotus, wet and dry. Inaba Ciao treats such as the yogurt sticks and vacuum-sealed filets,” owner Trace Menchaca says. “We try to find really amazing new products from companies like Polydactyl and Dezi & Roo. We also have remedies and supplements, and we sell World’s Best Cat Litter. Meowijuana, of course, too.”
Tip: Consider hosting an annual sale like Flying M’s Catapalooza, which offers a gift with $20 purchase.

Wags to Whiskers

PLAINFIELD, IL

Janelle Pitula shows her affection for felines with the store’s “Kitty Corner,” which features 137 flavors of canned food alone, plus five dry, four raw and four freeze-dried brands. A variety of supplies completes the 150-square-foot section (of 1,000 total). A charming touch: Colorful decals make cats appear to sit on the area’s thermostat and freezer.
TIP: Pitula points out about cat food, “Same margins as dog food, takes up less space.” Consider expanding your offerings.

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Youngblood’s Natural Animal Care Center & Massage

GREENFIELD, IN

The cat room at this store does double duty. Not only will customers find a carefully curated selection of products presented with cozy, country charm, but those looking to adopt can sit and spend time with a foster kitty from the local humane society. Co-owners Samantha and Kim Youngblood added the 255-square-foot room (of 1,200 total) six months ago and are glad they did.
“We’ve seen an increase in sales,” Samantha says. “We also try to educate cat parents that it is just as important to feed fresh, use safe cat toys, supplements, etc. for a cat as it is for a dog. They are really responding.”

Noble Beast Natural Market for Pets

PHOENIX, AZ

In 2017, Marsha Vallee and Alison Chandler saw their sales of frozen raw cat food begin to climb. They built on that momentum by devoting 510 of their 1,560 retail square footage to felines.
“We were able to expand our food lines and bring in more supplies just for the kitties,” Vallee says. “Customers really appreciate the care and variety of fun new things they see in our cat room.”
Among the many offerings in this colorful, whimsically merchandised space are items from Kate Benjamin’s Hauspanther line with Primetime Petz. She curates her section for the store and shops there for her clowder.
While Vallee and Chandler don’t track overall sales by species, they can point to a specific brand as a sign of the room’s success: Fromm cat food sales have increased by 17 percent.

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Moore Equine Feed & Supply

SOUTHERN PINES, NC

5 Cats get their own window display and adjacent 250-square-foot section (of 2,500 total) at this store. Co-owner Kaily Meeks says they began expanding pet offerings, including creation of “Cat Land,” in summer 2017, and “have seen sales grow at an exponential rate.”
Best-selling raw foods include Primal, Answers and Stella & Chewy’s, and Fromm leads kibble and canned food sales. Karma Cat caves add color and whimsy to the section.

Bones2Go!

HOUSTON, TX

Tracey Rentcome specializes in raw food, with the majority of her customers shopping for dogs. That doesn’t mean, though, that those with kitties get slighted.
“People who come in to buy food for their cats want the same experience, actually an even better one, that they get at a big-box store,” she says. “They want to look at different products, see new ones and feel up on the latest trends.”
With that in mind, Rentcome gave her freezer room a feline theme. Toys, scratchers, treats and other products line one wall, and cat shelves wrap around so store pet Devil Kitty can oversee his department from on high.

Pamela Mitchell is the senior editor at PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Spot the senior Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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PETS+ Live with Candace D'Agnolo

This North Carolina Pet Business Thrives by Creating Unforgettable Customer Experiences

Catch the replay of this PETS+ Live! webinar hosted by Candace D’Agnolo of Pet Boss Nation. This episode featured Wendy Megyese of Muttigans in Emerald Isle, NC. Learn about ways to combat the big boxes and online — the key is to give your customers an experience they can’t get anywhere else — and learn why the business was honored in the 2018 PETS+ America’s Coolest Stores contest.

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Benchmarks

Haul Out the Holly — and Maybe Even Yoda — for Snappy, Happy Holiday Decor

For a snappy, happy ever after, get those decorations up now.

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IT’S THE MOST wonderful time of the year. Customers are picking out gifts, and booking extra grooming appointments and boarding stays. Best of all, you get to deck the halls to further boost the holiday cheer and spending. These pet businesses shared how they do exactly that.

Southern Barker
LEXINGTON & LOUISVILLE, KY

On any given day, Southern Barker looks pulled from the pages of a decorating magazine. The holidays are no different. Special touches like the countdown calendar pickup truck and faux snowballs add festive charm to displays, those of holiday and non-holiday products alike.

Paddywack
MILL CREEK, WA

How sweet is this giving tree? Customers are able to purchase an item off the tree for a specific forever foster or adoptable pet, with the lineup changing each year with the organization. White tinsel and snowflakes also decorate this store, with Christmas and Hanukkah items adding pops of color throughout.

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The Dog Store
ALEXANDRIA, VA

Forget the Grinch! The Dog Store favors another green creature, Yoda, in one of its holiday displays. Making an appearance in the front window are Santa Snoopy and seemingly every single holiday dog toy on the market. Passersby can’t help but stop to take it all in, and then head inside for more.

Wagging Tails
WEST HARTFORD & WOLCOTT, CT

Pet-centric holiday paintings are a running theme in the lobbies of these boarding facilities. Santa holds a puppy, giving him a candy cane to lick. A kitten plays with ribbon on a wrapped gift. And a Westie looks out a snow-dusted window, with a Christmas tree in the background. All creating a merry mood for clients dropping off their pets.

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Bark On Mulford
ROCKFORD, IL

Festive items mix with year-round gifts to give both categories a boost during the holidays. Dog breed ornaments decorate Bark on Mulford’s Christmas tree, along with those representing other pets.

Paws on Main
COLUMBIANA, OH

This store took full advantage of last year’s town Christmas parade theme: ugly sweaters. It devoted the front window to holiday sweaters for pets, and threw a Snuggly Paws and Ugly Sweater Party. Not only did Paws on Main sell a slew of sweaters, it won the Best Dressed Animals Award at the parade!

Woof! Woof! Pet Boutique & Biscuit Bar
BRISTOL, RI

Treats remain a priority during the holidays at this store, with the famous biscuit bar and bakery cases getting a festive makeover. And look at the bone-shaped tree lights and garland with moose ears. Adorable.

Captivating Canines
WESTERVILLE, OH

This store takes part in its neighborhood’s annual storefront holiday decorating contest. White twinkle lights hang from the awning, helping to light the window displays that feature festive holiday decor. Good luck this year!

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Benchmarks

6 Pet Hotels That Will Make You Kind of Wish You Were a Dog

This is high-end boarding for dogs!

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AT FIRST GLANCE, you might think some of these accommodations are for people. But look closely — at the size of furniture at Chateau Poochie, the water bowl at Yuppy Puppy and the video-chat camera at Bark Life Market. This is high-end boarding for dogs! Also, the pups in other pics give it away.

Wagging Tails
WOLCOTT & WEST HARTFORD, CT

Wagging Tails Pet Resort & Spaw has staffed cage-free boarding with toddler furniture as lounging and bedding options. Among the playful offerings are a pirate’s ship, racecar and train.
Krista Lofquist buys Little Tikes and Step2 beds new, but also finds them gently used on Facebook Marketplace.

NIGHTLY RATES: $50 (includes daycare)

Yuppy Puppy
O’FALLON, MO

Each of the Plaza Suites at Yuppy Puppy pet spa and resort features a tempered-glass door, garden-view window and outdoor fenced-in area for suite guests only, plus raised bed, couch and included amenities such as bacon-and-egg brekkies in bed.

Jessica Cooke expanded boarding options to include suites when moving to her current location. “I was quite nervous that I would end up upgrading dogs for free to utilize the space. But the suites are full every day, and I have clients booked in them into 2020. We are opening a second location, and the rooms will primarily be these.”

NIGHTLY RATES: $55

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Barker’s Lane
DAVIE, FL

Grooming clients can also board at this salon, in one of four stylishly appointed rooms worthy of an Instagram-famous pup.
Julianna Reese offers this advice for those inspired to use similar decor. “You have to know the dogs to determine what can be left in the room. We do put down pee pee pads at night, but the rugs and bedding are washable and bought at places like Ross, Home Goods, Tuesday Morning.”

NIGHTLY RATES: $45 and higher

Bark Life Market
SEMINOLE, FL

The all-inclusive Penthouse at Bark Life Market’s newest resort measures 10 by 13 feet and includes sliding patio door, resort decor and music, a queen-size bed and flat screen with DogTV, as well as private web cameras and a Petchatz video chat and treat dispenser. Also included, egg and cheese omelet for breakfast, salmon or beef fillet for dinner, and tuck-in treat at bedtime.

NIGHTLY RATES: $99

Chateau Poochie
POMPANO BEACH, FL

This doggie day care, spa and pet hotel has multiple levels of accommodations, including its most luxurious: The Tea Suite. Measuring 14 by 14 feet, it has seating and sleeping options throughout, a crystal chandelier, flat-screen TV and webcam, plus additional included amenities.

NIGHTLY RATES: $250, and pet parents can pay an additional fee to have a staff member spend the night in the suite.

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Wag Central
STRATFORD, CT

At Wag Central, staffed slumber parties are one of the higher-end boarding options. Pre-screened day-care regulars can stay together in a room that has four custom-made bunkhouses. Angela Pantalone says they cost about $800 each, including beds.

“It’s a great upsell for pups who are anxious or first-time boarders. The human-interaction aspect is a big draw for owners who are concerned about their pup as they travel, too.” She adds, “We are able to multitask the use of this room for dog families who insist on keeping their pups together when we are not opening it to sleepovers. It’s a nice puppy nursery, too, for daycare. Overall, it’s been a hit!”

NIGHTLY RATES: $68 (includes daycare)

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Tout Your Own Brand with Custom Merchandise, Branded Freebies

Swag those tails!

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE SWAG? Offer up a free button or ball or other small promotional item, and your customer will say, “Yes, please” and “Thank you.” Some even love your business so much they’ll pay to wear or use its branded products. Now that’s success — revenue and “free” advertising. These six businesses have achieved exactly that.

Fetch RI
RICHMOND, RI

Humans and dogs alike can show their love for this store — in a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and bandanas. Johnna Devereaux offers this advice, “People love buying our shirts and sweatshirts because they are super-comfortable. Work with your local embroidery shop and have them order samples so you can decide which materials feel the best, and carry only those!” As to pricing, she says, “Because we are getting free advertising when people wear our branded items, we only charge a 25 percent markup.”

T-SHIRT COST: $13, SWEATSHIRT COST: $35, HAT COST: $12, BANDANA COST: $4.50, DOG T-SHIRT COST: $8 | SOURCE: Local embroidery and screen-printing shop

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Crossbones Dog Academy
PROVIDENCE, RI

New training clients get their very own clicker to use, not only during class but when out and about practicing new skills. When hung from a wrist coil, they serve as walking advertisement for the business. Katherine Ostiguy says, “Branded clickers are worth the investment if your store offers positive dog training services.” She also sells them for $3.29.

COST: $1.15 | SOURCE: The Doggone Good Clicker Company

Cats Exclusive Veterinary Center
SHORELINE, WA

In their welcome packet, new patients get a three-step can lid with the clinic logo on it, and they also are available for $1.39 at the on-site store. Manager Amanda Bass says, “Carrying can lids when you sell dog and cat food is a must! Merchandise them near the canned foods as well as by the checkout stand.”

COST: $.049 | SOURCE: Pawprint Promotions

Animal Connection
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

Branded merchandise at this store features its tag line, “Bark Local.” Patricia Boden sells T-shirts, toys and magnets, but also gives them away — along with “Bark Local” and “Purr Local” buttons — at certain events and to valued customers. She even rewards those who wear the gear: “If I see someone wearing a pin or shirt, or a car with a magnet, they get a prize on the spot!”

SHIRT COST: $14 SALES PRICE: $20 SOURCE: VistaPrint | TOY COST: $9.50 SALES PRICE: $16.99 SOURCE: Hugglehounds | MAGNET COST: $1.50 SALES PRICE: $3 BUTTON COST: $0.44 SALES PRICE: $0 SOURCE: Sticker Mule

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Wishbone Pet Care
MISSOURI CITY, TX

Tammi Bui worked with an Etsy artist to create a custom, hand-painted dog collar with brand colors and logo. She sells them for $22.99, but also gives them as gifts to her most loyal customers.

COST: $11 | SOURCE: etsy.com/shop/merryjaneandthor

Yuppy Puppy
O’FALLON, MO

Jessica Cooke says, “I smack my logo on anything I can!” Some items she gives away, such as bandanas to new grooming clients, but uses others as incentives. Customers who book a 30-day play-camp package for $515 get a free towel they can use on Splash Days, and those who buy a filled treat jar for $6 can refill it for $3. “We also use these in our donation gift baskets, with a note telling them to keep the jar and come see us for a refill!”

TOWEL COST: $11, TREAT JAR COST: $2.50 | SOURCE: AnimalsINK

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