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Manager's To Do

To-Do List: Prep for SuperZoo 2023, Add Teacups to a Display and Sponsor a School Therapy Dog

Put these items on your to-do list for August and September to boost your business.




Jul 30-Aug 5

MERCHANDISING Up the creativity in a display by adding an unexpected item. Becci Scott of Fetching Dog Barkery & Dog Cafe in Scottsdale, AZ, puts each topping for her store-made doggie ice cream into a delicate teacup complete with saucer and lace doily underneath. A handwritten card above each identifies the topping, such as beef lung chunks, and adds to the contrast between ingredient and display piece.

INVENTORY Create a log where staff can note products customers ask for but that you don’t carry — and where they can include the customer’s contact info if not already in your system. Review the list each week and decide whether to add the products or to make them available for special order if the customer is not open to an alternative you do stock. They’ll appreciate the follow-up effort.

Aug 6-12

BUYING SuperZoo happens next week! Are your vendor scorecards done? Is your open-to-buy plan set? Do you have your list of must-see brands? If not, revisit our Feb-Mar issue and its excellent buying advice from Wendi Tanner of Insight Merchant Strategies, Candace D’Agnolo of Pet Boss Nation and your fellow indies at


MARKETING Below your email signature, place a call-to-action link that rotates monthly. Create a schedule for the remainder of 2023 and set reminders to update it. Some ideas: “Check out our Summer Fun selfie station,” “Join our customer loyalty program” and “Shop our Back to School sale on enrichment toys and chews.”

Aug 13-19

NETWORKING Connect with the PETS+ and Pet Boss Nation teams at the SuperZoo Beach Party on Thursday, Aug. 17. We’ll meet at the entrance to the event at 6:45 p.m., then head in when the party starts at 7 p.m. It’s a great way to meet the pet industry people behind the profiles on social media. Not attending this show? You can still get in on the product finds via PETS+ on Facebook. We’ll be shooting video and snapping pics from the show floor. Follow us at

Aug 20-26

BUYING Now that you’re back from SuperZoo, after attending in person or via our coverage, be sure to submit any orders you didn’t at the show and note delivery estimates to properly plan their arrivals.

TECH Need to centralize and share documentation — training, operations, staff directory — but aren’t yet ready to pay for an organizational platform? Learn more about the free tools Google Docs offers at


Aug 27-Sep 2

SALES File this under the “It never hurts to ask” column. If you brought in a brand after SuperZoo that hasn’t quite taken off, hit up your brand rep for support. Nancy Okun of Cats n Dogs in Port Charlotte, FL, shares, “We brought in Northwest Naturals freeze-dried food, put the bags where every customer could see, but they just didn’t sell. Contacted our rep because we needed ideas. She said to give $5 off on every bag for the next 30 days. It worked! And we had to reorder triple that month. Northwest Naturals still sells well. Everyone loves dollars off (more than %) and once their dog likes a food, the customer will keep buying it even without the discount.”

MANAGEMENT Develop a standardized complaint response strategy, including the types of gripes a team member can manage on their own and those that need to be escalated to a manager or owner. Be sure everyone on the team knows how to execute it perfectly.

Sep 3-9

OPERATIONS Products aren’t the only items that need a proper count. Paul Lewis of The Green K9 in Mount Dora, FL, says that once a year, “We do a complete inventory of the facility. Beds, grooming equipment, bowls, etc.” This will help you avoid shortages once the holidays get underway.

Sep 10-16

COMMUNITY Sponsor a school therapy dog! Sherry Jennings of Mississippi Mutts in Cape Girardeau, MO, says, “We sponsor a therapy dog at an elementary school. We provide her food, supplies, etc. and also any seasonal products we create. Maggie the Therapy Dog includes us in social media posts, helping to promote us and what we do.”

MANAGEMENT If you haven’t already, set dates for any in-store events you plan to have in the fourth quarter. Inform your team as soon as possible. Everyone gets busy during the holidays, and the advance notice will be greatly appreciated.

Sep 17-23

CUSTOMER SERVICE Reconnect with former regular customers. Carly Patryluk of House of Paws Pet Boutique in Regina, SK, recommends, “For those customers who were coming regularly but have stopped, call them! You’re not guilting them. You’re asking a genuine question to understand if there’s something you’ve done or not done. I’ve done this when I’ve noticed we haven’t seen a regular customer in a while. You always get valuable information!”


Sep 24-30

MAINTENANCE Use the nice weather to your advantage when doing deep cleans. Amber Hudson of The Aquarium Pet Store in Weatherford, OK, says, “We use a lot of large, rolling metal shelving racks for live animal display cages, animal food storage, excess inventory storage. We clear each one off, take it outside, scrub it down, and let the sun and wind dry it off. A good thorough clean is wonderful at the beginning and end of warm weather each year.” And the fresh air will make such cleaning a little less of a chore for staff.

MERCHANDISING Don’t throw away those broken bits at the bottom of your treat jars. Shane Somerville of Paddywack in Mill Creek, WA advises: Bundle a half pound of those bits into cellophane bags and sell them for $1.99. “No one wants broken pieces when they’re in the buckets at full price, but they’ve been flying out merchandised this way!”



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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