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Portable Profits: Make Your Business Shine on the Road with the Right Booth

Learn how event booths can spring up sales.

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FESTIVAL SEASON WILL be here before you know it. Or perhaps outdoor events happen year-round in your area. Either way, put together a booth for your pet business that pulls passersby from the crowd. These businesses show how an event booth can expand your presence in the community, attract new customers and ring up sales.

Bark On Mulford

ROCKFORD, IL

With her store just over a year old, Kaye Busse-Kleber uses a variety of events to attract new customers. She fills a table with items that offer immediate gratification, such as tasty treats and colorful bandanas.

“People purchased and put them on the dogs right then,” Busse-Kleber says of the accessories. “It added to the festivities.”

Tip: Merchandise during prep. “I organize stuff in assorted baskets/containers while packing at my store,” Busse-Kleber shares. “That way, it’s minimal setup/teardown at the event.”

Wishbone Pet Care

MISSOURI CITY, TX

Tammi Bui sets up a booth each year at the Fort Bend Pet Expo, among other pet-centric events, offering those who adopt a dog that day a free nail trim or bath coupon. Some of the pups become grooming clients for life. Other giveaways include shampoo samples, dog tags and branded poop bags, and she offers food and treats for sale.

Price of Custom Table Runner: $70 | Source: Vistaprint

Tip: “Bring one of your most outgoing staff with you, someone not shy, to talk to people walking by your booth.”

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Pawz On Main

COTTONWOOD, AZ

Her store may be in a tourist area, but Denise Strong attends festivals to meet more locals.
“They keep our doors open with their repeat business. We hand out gift bags with free samples of dog foods and treats.”
Strong recreates her store outside, down to the sign with leopard-print border. At a recent event, dogs could get their nails painted for a donation to local rescues.

Tip: “Purchase quality tent, tables, tablecloths and signage. Your booth is a full representation of your storefront. Perception is reality!”

Dog Krazy

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, VA

Let’s face it: Smooch the Pooch serves as the main draw at Dog Krazy’s booth. How could anyone resist a kiss from Pork Wonton. He — along with other store pets — joins Nancy and Chris Guinn at a variety of events.
“We try to do as many as possible because pet lovers are everywhere,” she says.
Their most successful 2018 setup was at Virginia PrideFest. Attendees who followed Dog Krazy on social media were invited to spin a wheel to win a prize, among them a pooch smooch from Porkie (below left) or Clovis (below right). The store gained 500 followers that day. Event-specific selfie frames were also a hit.

Price of Canopy: $700 | Source: ABC Canopy

Tip: Stand out. “Bright yellow was the perfect choice, as most people pick white or a darker color,” Nancy explains. “You cannot miss the Dog Krazy booth!”

All Pet Supplies & Equine Center

SPRINGFIELD, MO

Visitors to this store’s booth can shop the Raw Bar, buy a toy and even play Dip Your Dog a Bone, which encourages kids to dip and decorate a treat. Jan Guin sets up at three pet-centric events each year to meet potential new customers.

Tip: Sell instead of sample. “We love handing out samples of dog food, but people take more than their share, so that’s frustrating to monitor,” she says. “We decided we might as well sell something, and who doesn’t like buying their dog a treat?”

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Bubbles & Beyond Pet Salon

TOPTON, PA

Kelly Reed has three goals with each event her grooming salon sets up at: “Give back to clients, make personal connections with prospective clients, and inform the community about grooming and their pet’s well-being.”
Products for sale, giveaways and grooming literature are available, and event-goers can snap a pic with the salon mascot in the Bubbles & Beyond photo booth, “with the hope that it will be shared on social media,” she says.

Tip: “Do your research and target the events you think will generate the new business you’re seeking.”

Pupology

GEORGETOWN, TX

Janet Cesarini doesn’t set up a booth for her business at area events. The booth IS her business. She does not have a brick-and-mortar location, but instead sets up at events and dog-friendly locations every weekend from March through December.

“Events are my main income producer, so my goal is sales,” Cesarini says. “I also collect emails for marketing and promote my social media channels to increase followers.”

Her tent proves versatile as it has sides that can open and close like a shower curtain. She uses shelving, tables and fixtures from IKEA, Hobby Lobby and even Goodwill, and pop-up slatwall offers further display options.

Price of Tent: $300 | Source: Sam’s Club

Tip: “Look at Pinterest for ideas, make a planogram and practice setting up your booth before the day of your event. There’s a big difference between your planogram and real life.”

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Yarn & Bone Pet Supply Co.

CAMDEN, DE

Matthew Moorefield and Michael Morris set up at regular and pet-centric festivals alike to boost awareness of their store. Their most successful event in 2018 was The Bug and Bud Festival.

“We had a lot of customers return to both our Camden and Rehoboth Beach stores with coupons,” Moorefield says.

Tip: “Don’t overthink the booth. Try to capture your store in 10 by 10 area.”

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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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.

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Make a Statement About Your Brand with Your Shopping Bags

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How do you practice environmental sustainability in your pet business? By sourcing chews and treats locally? Carrying recyclable toys? Installing water-saving systems and solar panels?

Whatever you do, the planet appreciates it — as do your like-minded customers!

Up your store’s eco-friendliness as well as its brand visibility by providing reusable and/or paper shopping bags with your logo. These stores are doing exactly that.

The Pet Beastro

MADISON HEIGHTS, MI

Shoppers can buy the recyclable polymer-plastic tote for $4.97 and get a 50-cent credit with purchase. Members of a loyalty program earn a free bag when they spend $1,000 or more in a year. And customers can play the “Where in the World Is the Beastro Bag?” contest. They enter by posting a photo of their traveling tote to Facebook or Instagram. Grand prize: a $500 store gift card. “The end result is that we are saving precious resources and doing our part to clean up the planet,” owner Jill Tack says.

Price: $1.80 per bag | Source: oasisbags.com

TIP: Allow shoppers to donate their bag credit to a charity your store supports.

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Hawaii Doggie Bakery

HONOLULU, HI

Owner Niki Libarios began offering recycled and recyclable paper bags — featuring the store logo against a bright yellow background — long before Honolulu passed laws regarding shopping bags. Stores are prohibited from providing plastic or non-recyclable paper bags, and must charge at least 15 cents for any recyclable or reusable bag. Her bags cost much more than that. “We just consider it part of the cost of doing business,” she says, adding. “It’s a great marketing tool for us, especially when we do events.”

Price: 62 cents a bag | Source: local print shop

Pupology

GEORGETOWN, TX

Janet Cesarini stocks recycled and recyclable paper bags in three sizes, each adorned with a colorful logo sticker and lined with paw print or red tissue. “It’s another way we can give back, by not adding to the world’s trash heap. We get PAWsitive feedback from our customers.”

Price: 23-27 cents per bag | Source: papermart.com

TIP: If using stickers to brand bags, keep a stack at the register to sell separately. “I offset some of their cost by selling the die-cut design for $1 each.”

Busch Pet Products

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO

Stacy Busch provides recyclable paper bags for multiple reasons. “I try to be conscious of the environment. I’m not a fan of plastic bags at all, and very recently, our city stopped taking them in recycling.” Customers love the quality and design of the store’s shopping bags with logo sticker — inspired by the Beagles her family once bred. Paw print and red plaid tissue dress up bags for gifts. “Many customers tell me that they repurpose the bags, for taking their lunch or other things. Customers bring them back, too! They say they are too nice to recycle or throw away.”

Price: 18-25 cents per bag | Source: nashvillewraps.com

TIP: Place larger orders to save money. “If you spend $300 or more with Nashville Wraps, you get free shipping. That helps a lot!”

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Lucky Dogs

SKANEATELES, NY

This store’s shopping bags reflect its community’s attitude toward the environment. “Many residents in our area and many of our shoppers are eco-conscious,” owner Amy Schiek says. “I wanted to use quality paper bags with a boutique look that would be recyclable. It was a bonus when I found a style made from recycled materials.” She also sells a reusable canvas tote, complete with a definition of dog any pet parent will appreciate, for $16.

Price: 31-39 cents per paper bag, plus printing; $10.50 per canvas bag | Sources: bagsandbowsonline.com; local print shop

Lewis and Bark’s Outpost

RED LODGE, MT

“We wanted our shopping bags to reflect the rich history of our area and the simple way of life here, while also being environmentally friendly,” owner Danielle Chandler says. Recycled and recyclable paper bags feature the store logo — starring her dogs Gus and Junior exploring a la Lewis and Clark — and have buffalo plaid tissue tucked inside. She recently introduced a reusable canvas tote as well, available for $12. “They sell very well, and we will be diversifying into different colors and styles for our next order.”

Price: 18 cents per paper bag; $6 per canvas bag | Sources: nashvillewraps.com; vistaprint.com

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6 Intro Videos for $1,000 or Less

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VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR, and it continues to dominate. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, video will make up 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021.

What does that mean for you? Potential customers will increasingly look to learn about your business through a promotional video, whether on your website, social media or search. If you don’t have one, they may choose a competitor that does.

Not sure where to start on such a project? These fellow pet business owners share their experiences.

Concerned about the cost? The examples here range from free to $1,000. 


Homeward Bound GILFORD, NH

This promotional video emphasizes Homeward Bound’s customizable dog-walking services and easy online scheduling. Viewers see pups playing and clients clicking, with narration throughout by owner Alix Marcoux DiLorenzo.

The video cost just $200, thanks to her participation in a Plymouth State University business accelerator course, during which she partnered with a young videographer building his portfolio.

“We brought him out on a day of dog walking, where he shot all of the footage.”

The video runs 1 minute, 36 seconds, with a 30-second version she edited going into email responses to potential clients. DiLorenzo offers this tip: Specify length in writing. ppmag.us/9181


Nature’s Pet Market SALEM, OR

When Hewlett-Packard asked to shoot a “Customer Story” at Nature’s Pet Market, owner Terri Ellen jumped at the chance. Not only would the video promote her store, but HP offered her rights to all of the footage. With the help of a local production company, Ellen used it to create her own video featuring customer testimonials.

“Three years later, I still use it for marketing. I share it on Facebook, my website, Instagram, during local presentations and wherever else appropriate.”

Ellen offers this tip: Don’t use information that will soon be out of date. “In my video, I mentioned we have four freezers” she says. “A year later, we had seven!” ppmag.us/9185


The Green K9 MOUNT DORA, FL

To build buzz for summer boarding at The Green K9, owner Marni Lewis created a promotional video in the style of an action movie trailer. She used her iPhone 8 to capture dogs playing, and iMovie to combine it with photos, text and music.

“We put it on our Facebook page, and I spent $30 over six days to boost the post. It received 3,000 views, and the comments were very positive and heartwarming. It’s amazing that a video of this quality can be made on a phone for free.” ppmag.us/9182


Bubbly Paws TWIN CITIES, MN

Owner Keith Miller went the professional route for this Bubbly Paws video. “It cost $1,000 and was worth every penny,” he says.

Viewers see the welcoming, spa-like atmosphere and hear the benefits of self-bathing from Keith and his wife, Patrycia.

Keith offers these tips: Shoot interviews before your business opens. “Nothing ruins audio like barking dogs, dryers or talking in the background.” Also, use a paid service like Vimeo to host the video. “I’m not a fan of YouTube because it will insert ads into the video. Nothing would annoy me more than seeing the competition’s ad at the start of our video.” ppmag.us/9186


Dog Krazy FREDERICKSBURG, VA

This promotional video introduces Dog Krazy owner Nancy Guinn and her menagerie of pets. It also touts her certified pet nutritionist status and tells potential customers how she selects products to sell.

“I wanted to explain why Dog Krazy is different from other stores. We don’t just bring products in without fully researching them and making sure they are top of the line. We truly care about the health of pets, not just making a profit.”

Guinn hired a graphic designer to create the animated video. Price tag: $180. ppmag.us/9183


The Dining Dog & Friends ALLENTOWN, PA

This promotional video for The Dining Dog & Friends makes pets and humans alike drool. Part of a digital marketing package from local firm HoM Consulting, it highlights products made at the store.

“We wanted to showcase as much of the market and what sets us apart from others.

That includes our freshly baked goods, soups, stews and more that are lovingly prepared in our onsite kitchen and commercial bakery,” co-owner Althea Seeds says.

“In the video you can see the freshness. You can practically smell it!”

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