BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH
Space often is limited at inde- pendent pet supply stores, and owners are met with the
challenge of how to merchandise
and display oversized items that
don’t fit snugly on shelves.
“Consumers continue to gravitate toward lifestyle products
that are better integrated into
their home,” said Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch
Pethouse and Pawbar, which has
locations in Southern California.
Examples are a crate that
doubles as a coffee table or a cat
scratcher console, she said.
In the large-product category,
backyard chickening is becoming
huge, giving rise to the sales of
related products, said C.J. Pomerantz, vice president of marketing
at Advantek in Moorpark, Calif.
“It has been growing year
after year for the last five years,
and with more and more towns
relaxing their restrictions on the
keeping of chickens in residential neighborhoods, it’s not going
to slow down any time soon,”
Eric Mack, co-owner of Purrrfect Bark in Columbus, N.C.,
said he buys crates to sell when
it makes sense.
“We mostly only buy them
NEW TO THE CATEGORY
when they’re on sale so we can
pass on the savings to custom-
ers, be competitive with big-box
stores and still make the 50 per-
cent margins that nonfood cate-
gories need to pull,” he said.
Almost everything made by Advantek fits into the large product
category. Most recently, the company introduced a new chicken
hutch called the Tractor House,
one of the largest it has made to
date, said Pomerantz.
Litter One in Columbus and
Chillicothe, Ohio, maker of
all-inclusive cat litter kits, has
made some updates, said Natalie
Robbins, founder and CEO.
“We have recently redesigned our false floor to have
slots instead of holes,” Robbins
said. “When the cats urinate on
our pine pellet litter, the pellets
absorb all of the liquid and transform into sawdust. The slots allow the sawdust to fall through
to the empty chamber in the bottom of the box much more easily
than the holes.”
PetSafe, a brand of Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn.,
“On the pet doors,
we recently upgraded our patio panels
to fit in a smaller
box, which allows retailers to better merchandise them and
allows consumers to
get them home more
easily,” Hart said.
To educate retailers
and pet owners about
its Pet Gazebos, Advantek has found
success with its Pet
Gazebo POP display,
“This features a
DISPLAY AND MARKETING
sort of backboard or
storyboard that ex-
plains the benefits
of the Pet Gazebo,
as well as a min-
iaturized Pet Ga-
said. “Our engineers
were able to come up with a
way to use all full-size materi-
als—the same 0.5-inch pipe we
use for the frame of the panels,
the same gauge wire, etc.—but
[the model] is only about 18
inches by 18 inches.”
Large products such as crates
are an easy sell, with the excep-
tion of new pet owners, who re-
quire more information before
making a purchasing choice, said
Purrrfect Bark’s Mack. To help
those customers, his staff is well
versed on all of these products so
they can pass along that knowl-
edge to the consumer.
The major challenge with merchandising large products is lack
of space. Pomerantz suggests using miniature models as well as
transforming display units into
usable space. For example, the
company partners with retailers
to donate a Pet Gazebo to rescue
groups in their areas, which is
then set up in front rather than
on their sales floor.
“Having the puppies that are
up for adoption in one of the Pet
Gazebos allows the consumer to
interact with it right when they
are making the decision not just
to take home a puppy, but also
all of the buying decisions that
go along with a new puppy,”
Pet Sage in Alexandria, Va.,
lays claim to 2,500 square feet
of retail space, broken up into
two primary areas, one for natural therapies and supplements
and one for foods, said owner
“I can’t stand to shop in a
crowded store, so I don’t expect
my customers to,” Grow said,
adding that 12 is a magical number, based on customer shopping
“Customers don’t focus on
anything within the first 12 feet
in a store,” she said, so she keeps
that area free of displays.
“On the right is the checkout
counter, which runs the whole
12 feet; on the opposite wall is a
12-foot palette loaded with litter.
I put the litter there for easy access and am always amused how
many clients walk the whole store
and come back and ask if we carry litter,” she said.
Like Pomerantz, Grow said
that samples are key selling
“I always try to have an example, especially if the product
is new, where customers can
touch and I can open a discussion
with the customer,” Grow said.
“Women especially like to feel
bedding or pick up a product,
I use plush cats, and while they
aren’t as effective, they do offer a
better display than empty items.”
When live cats aren’t avail-
able, there are other options.
“Litter One has a freestanding
display that includes a monitor
that has a demonstration video
on loop that can be placed anywhere there is free space in the
store,” Robbins said.
“If the pet store has small
square footage, we could provide hanging plastic cards with
a picture of Litter One and its
main features that the customer could give to the store employee to get from the back
so it doesn’t take up any floor
space,” she added.
“One thing we do on larger
items is to have multiple face
panels, which allows retail partners to display them in multiple
ways depending on the space
constraints in the store,” said
Zakrajsek said the stores
take a “less is more” approach
to merchandising, curating an
edited supply of goods, with everything having a specific place.
This makes the stores easy to
navigate. When it comes to furniture for pets, she suggested setting up goods to replicate a mini
“The best way you will sell
lifestyle furniture is to make
commitment to make that dis-
play,” Zakrajsek said. “You have
to give it room to breathe, to be
around other similar items. Take
a corner of the room and turn it
into a showpiece in a large store.
If you have a small store, create
a limited-time-only display fea-
turing some of these items, and
allow for customers to special
She also suggested placing
large items in the window.
“It helps to get it off the sales
floor and out of the way, but you
are still casting its own special
light on it,” she added.
To illustrate another effective
trick, Zakrajsek points to the perimeter wall space in Pussy &
Pooch’s Beverly Hills location.
“We utilize [it] more like traditional [fashion] retailers in that
we use recessed wall standards
to create flexible [and custom-ized] retail displays; this type of
fixturing, along with our other
custom fixtures, allows for the
greatest flexibility in showcasing
large items,” she said. n
Display strategies for when space is at a
premium and supply is at a maximum.
“Dog beds, especially the large and XL
sizes, are the most challenging. They
take up space and you never have the
right color or style. For storage I have
racks on top of the freezers, thinking dog
food aligned with dog beds would make
selling easier.”—TERRI GROW, ownerof
Pet Sage in Alexandria, Va.
“Crates are the least sexy things going
in the whole store—I have a hard time
with any big bulky items like that that
doesn’t have good packaging.”—JANENE
ZAKRAJSEK, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch
Pethouse and Pawbar, with several
locations in Southern California
WHAT IS THE MOST
ITEM TO DISPLAY?
Pet Product News International January 2016