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Retailer Wishlist

Pet Retailers Value This Quality Most When Buying Dog Toys for Their Stores

Get this and other answers from the Little Survey on this pet product category.

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DOG TOYS ARE next up in our installment of Little Survey columns, the younger and more focused version of our annual Big Survey issue. We second quite a few of the wants and needs on the Retailer Wishlist!

What type of dog toys do you sell the most of?


*Toys made specifically for the water and those that teach were among the “Other” answers, along with ties within subcategories.

How Do You Choose?

“Price/value” coming in as a top feature for product selection tracks with the need to stay competitive in this product category in order to sell it.

What is your return policy on dog toys?

The top “Other” answer was that you decide on a case-by-case basis, with Adina Silberstein of Queenie’s Pets in Philadelphia, PA, explaining, “We take a common-sense approach. Did they just buy something in the wrong size? Do they just have a destructive dog? This said, in four years of retail now, we have had two toy returns that I can recall, one of which we accepted and honored because it was simply the wrong size (which we had told the customer at purchase time, but she chose to get it anyway so was super grateful) and one we denied because her dog simply destroyed it — I think it takes real audacity to attempt a return on a plush toy from a toy-destructive dog.”

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What retailers want and need in the dog toy category

Not surprisingly, more “durable” toys came in as the most common request, with “durable and cute” also a top want. Ana Andrade of Woofgang Bakery Longwood in Longwood, FL, commented, “Usually the cutest toys are easily ripped apart.” Additionally, McKenna Burzimati of Roxie’s Barkery in North Adams, MA, pointed out: “A lot of the enrichment toys I sell are not durable, which prevents some people from purchasing. While they love the idea, they know their dog will be even more inclined to quickly destroy them because treats are involved.” Brands, while you’re working on the above, retailers say they would also like durable and cute toys to be sustainably made in the U.S., come with a guarantee, and only be available to indies, with affordable pricing. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right? Read on for more.

  • New shapes on the chew bones. Customers are always looking for something other than the normal “bone” shape. I think a pretzel shape would sell well if done right. — April Wright, The Dog and Cat, Essex Jct, VT
  • More scratchy teeth-cleaning toys. — Jennie Dudley, Hairy Winston, Mount Pleasant, SC
  • I love “Chew Meters.” They help clients choose toys by themselves. Wish they all had them. — Nicoll Vincent, For K-9s & Felines, Westfield, MA
  • Frequent-buyer program for brand-specific dog toys. Buy 12 in a year, get one free. — Sara Ruiz, Our Pet World, Apopka, FL
  • More availability for seasonal purchases, to prepare sooner. — Molly Rowland, Molly’s Pampered Paws, Smithville, TN
  • Multipurpose toy — dog destroys one part, but there is something left to use. — Michael Dan, Redridge Pet Market, Richmond, VA
  • Floating rubber options that aren’t bumpers and aren’t huge but can be used in water for retrieving, etc. — Cassie Nilsson, The Mill Stores, Whiteford, MD
    I wish companies would not include that little piece of mesh fabric on their plush toys. Customers do not care to feel that fabric, and it reduces the merchandising appeal when that piece sticks out from the item. Or, if they feel the need to attach it, make it a tiny piece. — Kaye Busse-Kleber, Bark On Mulford, Rockford, IL
  • More dog toy recycling! — Tiffany Walker, The Farm at Natchez Trace, Franklin, TN
  • Toys that grow with the dog. They get a favorite, but it may be too small for them as they grow — it would be cool to figure out a way to “grow” a toy. — Sheila Raebel, Dogma Dog Bakery, Arlington, VA
  • Fewer tags to rip off. Quicker to get the toy to the dog (the ultimate goal)! — Natalie Kramer, Albany Pet Hotel, Albany, OR
  • Keep products purchased in even multiples. It’s awkward splitting odd-numbered minimums between an even number of stores. — Jeffrey Jensen, Four Muddy Paws, St. Louis, MO
  • Puzzle toys for dogs less than 5 pounds and more than 100 pounds. — Kelly Boesel, Blue Ribbon Pets, Ukiah, CA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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