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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 editor-in-chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Spot the senior Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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Pet Sustainability Coalition

Pet Sustainability Coalition Presents: Critical Sustainability Strategies for Retailers

This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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14 Inspirations for Your Collar and Leash Displays

Turn unexpected items into fixtures.

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PLUMBING PIPE. LADDERS. Picket fencing. Indies are experts at turning unexpected items into fixtures for their stores. These pet businesses use these and other pieces to display collars, harnesses and leashes, all of which can be a challenge to show well and keep neat.

Firehouse Pet Shop
Wenatchee, WA

Thirty-four wooden crates make up this collar-centric display, shown here with manager Traci Simon. They clip around on rods within, grouped by color, and mix with housewares. At the center sits an antique metal file box owners Jennifer and Allen Larsen found at an antique store.

COST & SOURCE: $15 each for crates at Walmart, $40 for file box

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Wishbone Pet Care
Missouri City, TX

Tammi Bui used copper pipes and fittings to create a perfectly petite collar display, which fits into a wooden stool and spins for easy access.

COST & SOURCE: $30 for each 10 feet of copper piping, $19 for cutter, $3 each for fitting at Home Depot

TIP: Don’t be intimidated by the idea of cutting pipe. Bui says, “I used copper pipe because it’s the easiest type to DIY. The cutter is very easy to use.” Also, don’t make the arms too long, so customers can easily reach collars farther in.

Harbor Pet
Greenport, NY

More than 400 collars hang on the wall at this store! Kim Loper kept it simple when creating this fixture, purchasing pre-cut steel plumbing pipes around which to attach the collars.

COST & SOURCE: $350 at Home Depot

TIP: When using pipes for a neat and attractive display, Loper says to “Clean them really well and spray paint them black. They are black, but the original black will rub off on the collars and stain them.”

Animal Connection
Charlottesville, VA

Pattie Boden Zeller turned a section of deck railing on its side to create this rustic display. Collars attach around one or two posts, depending on size, to keep the selection tidy while allowing easy access for shoppers. Leashes drape over Western-style star hooks.

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COST & SOURCE: $10 for fencing at yard sale, $5 each for hooks at Atlanta Gift Market

TIP: Zeller recommends straightening these products several times a day. “I think everyone should have to work retail apparel and neaten clothing displays at least once in their life. Then they would be respectful and put things back where they found them! Maybe.”

Belly Rubs N Suds
Ashburn, VA

Teresa Hogge hired a local carpenter to build this spacious hutch. Collars and leashes hang on built-in dowels, with harnesses clipped to shower rings.

COST & SOURCE: $1,550 for hutch by Virginia Wallen, $1 each for curtain rings at Bed, Bath & Beyond

Flying M Pet Grocery
Houston, TX

Trace Menchaca brainstormed this eye-catching tree fixture with the woodworker who created other displays in her store. Leashes and collars hang from hooks amid leaves and a wise old owl, with additional collars shown on an adjacent wooden ladder.

COST & SOURCE: $0 for the fixture, as it was a thank-you gift; $0 for the ladder, as it was a dumpster find

Bark on Mulford
Rockford, IL

Plumbing pipe for the win again! Kaye Busse-Kleber found a similar fixture on Pinterest, and her husband, Gordon Kleber, made it for her as an anniversary gift. It’s super sturdy and allows the colorful products to draw the eye. “It’s attached to the floor and wall and is definitely not going anywhere! It’s the first thing you see when you walk into my shop.”

COST & SOURCE: $250 at Home Depot | Practice patience when building such a fixture, Busse-Kleber says. “It did take a while to assemble to make sure all of the fittings went together. Lots of swearing and multiple trips to Home Depot occurred!”

Southern Barker
Lexington, KY

Harnesses show perfectly on wooden children’s hangers, Leslie Stewart says, and hang neatly on a rack.

COST & SOURCE: $1 for hangers at online supply store, $15 for rack at Hobby Lobby

Cool Dog Gear
Warrington, PA

Sue Hepner and Paula Jaffe cut a section out of a wooden-slat bed frame and turned it into their collar display. Hepner says she likes that they can “clip all the collars on it so that the customer can just stand back and look and not have to rummage through the pegs looking for their favorite pattern/color … great way to display, and the peg holes on the tags are no longer ripped.”

COST & SOURCE: $20 for the frame at a second-hand shop

Bath & Biscuits
Granville, OH

Danielle Wilson refurbished this classic cabinet, then added shower rods around which to hang the collars. Leashes simply drape over the open door.

COST & SOURCE: $45 for cabinet at local antique market, $10 each for shower rods

TIP: Move away from slatwall and pegboard, Wilson recommends. “After I brought in pieces like this cabinet to showcase my products, my sales went up.”

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House Of Paws Pet Boutique
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Carly Patryluk hired SaskAbilities, which employs area individuals with different physical or mental abilities, to build several fixtures in her store, including this collar and leash rack, that she then finished with stain and paint. Collars attach around the rods, with leashes clipped to a wire up top.

COST: $200

Sweet Paws Bakery
Gainesville, FL

Curtains rods do the trick at this store, keeping collars neat and tidy. Colleen O’Fallon says, “I organize each pattern together, and then by size. So I have all the houndstooth together and then go extra-small, small, medium, large and extra-large.”

COST: $20-25 per rod and accessories

Natural Pet Essentials
Charlottesville, VA

Tried and true slatwall and hang rails in chrome keep up to 270 collars in order.

COST & SOURCE: $100

TIP: Kimberly Matsko advises, “In order for this to stand out, it has to be kept fully stocked. Empty bars are not as eye-catching or appealing to the consumer. They enjoy having a lot of options.”

Harmony Animal Hospital
Jupiter, FL

Monique Pierpont uses a wall adjacent to her front desk to display collars, leashes and harnesses. She likes the slatwall because it’s “slick looking.”

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Pet Pros Give Their Customers the Raw Facts

From displays and signs in-store to webinars and graphics online.

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MANY CUSTOMERS ARE intimidated by the idea of moving their pet to a diet that contains raw and/or fresh foods and supplements. These six pet businesses use a variety of tools to educate pet parents and to promote these types of products.

Fur Baby Pet ResortMILFORD, DE

This display — and star of a Facebook post — encourages customers to supplement kibble with fresh foods or switch to a biologically appropriate diet. Staff rotate the raw and other products regularly, with Primal, Green Juju, Enhance and Vital Essentials making an appearance along with their brochures. Toy fruits, veggies and eggs add to the educational fun. “Most people come to us for our customer services and knowledge, but even we have those who walk in and believe they know better. (People who read headlines and marketing, but not labels.) These displays are perfect for customers like that, as it’s important for us to educate our customers as much as possible, however we can,” Sherry Shupe says. “These types of offerings create loyal customers who trust us to help make the best decisions for their pets.”

Theo Pet GroceryMONTCLAIR, NJ

Owner Gregori Lukas regularly interviews integrative and holistic veterinarians for his YouTube channel and Facebook pages. In this video with veterinarian Melissa Walker, they talk about how her recommendation to feed a fresh food diet improved and extended the life of a senior dog she didn’t think would live more than a few more months. These interviews drive business to Theo Pet Grocery.
“Educational videos on social media allow consumers to become educated even before they step foot in your store. When they hear fresh food is healthy from a veterinarian, they are more likely to be receptive,” Lukas says. “When a customer is receptive, they are willing to shop and support your business.”

Flying M Pet Grocery HOUSTON, TX

Trace Menchaca launched club:RAW in the fall, announcing it on social media and in her newsletter, a charmingly old-fashioned publication written and drawn by hand and printed on paper. Members get personalized feeding plans, 10 percent off all raw purchases, and can attend a monthly in-store club meeting, during which they will meet other raw feeders and get free samples and sneak peeks.

Wags to Whiskers PLAINFIELD, IL

Inspired by Primal Pet Foods’ Build a Better Bowl campaign, this display illustrates how to supplement a kibble-based diet with fresh and raw foods. Each tier represents a different element of the optimized meal: a high-quality dry food, add-ins from the store such as goat milk and bone broth, and add-ins from home such as eggs and fresh fruit and veggies.“Customers like the visual and think it’s an attractive, colorful display,” Janelle Pitula says, adding that “My staff refer to it when trying to assist customers in adding fresh or high-quality ingredients to bowls. This little display has helped a lot … to have one place to go to quickly to allow people to visualize adding in product to make kibble better!”

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Youngblood’s Natural Animal Care Center & Massage GREENFIELD, IN

One of Samantha Youngblood’s favorite resources to share with customers is the Be Your Best Dog: A Guide to Health & Wellness booklet, written by Dr. Chris Bessent, a veterinarian and founder of Herbsmith and The Simple Food Project. “My customers are thinkers and love to research on their own before they buy. I support this and respect them. This book helps with that decision. It is a resource for supplements because of how incredible the book is written, and for nutrition because she touches on the importance of food in regards to many ailments such as allergies and bladder health. I try not to use this book to promote other products, just because it’s not fair to the company, but I guide them into a talk of food — whether that be The Simple Food Project, raw, toppers, etc. This book has been a game-changer with our sales, and I wish more companies would invest the time, effort and money to make similar handouts. Absolutely invaluable.”

Tail Blazers Copperfield & Legacy CALGARY, AB, CANADA

In addition to owning two Tail Blazers, Holly Montgomery works as a photographer. It allows her to create Insta-worthy images like this one, which she uses to educate followers about raw and fresh foods, and to attract customers to her stores. “We very often have people coming in, asking for specific products they’ve seen in our posts,” Montgomery says.
#petfoodpornwithapurpose

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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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