2 HOUNDS DESIGN
BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH
Some dog owners prefer that Fido and Fifi keep up with the Joneses when it comes
to fashion, which is why leashes
and collars represent one of the
more enjoyable purchases for pet
owners. This particular product
category can be fun, funky and
functional, all rolled into one.
Consumers request, and manufacturers provide, brighter collars as well as those that are visible at night, said Mike “Tonto”
Alexander, owner of Nite Beams
based in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Diana Greiner, owner of Felix
& Oscar, confirmed this trend,
adding that a one-size-fits-all
light-up collar from Nite Ize called
Nite Howl sells well at her store in
Products made in the USA
are more important to folks, said
Alisha Navarro, president of 2
Hounds Design in Monroe, N.C.
Consumers also want longevity with their purchases, as well as
touchable, natural materials, said
Alan Dungey, owner of Auburn
Leathercrafters in Auburn, N. Y.
“Some of the more recent
trends in collars/leashes we’ve
seen are functionality enhancements, more use of secondary/ter-tiary colors, humanization-friend-ly products, the intangible trend
called ‘cute factor’ and gear ‘with
a cause,’” said Norm Shrout,
co-owner of Long Leash on Life
in Albuquerque, N.M. Examples
of functionality improvements
Shrout cited include leashes that
work as harnesses, slip leads, padded collars to protect the trachea
and rolled collars to avoid tangling in longer coats.
Beside the importance of
function comes style.
“Consumers want functional,
comfortable products that come
in a variety of colors and styles
to embrace their dogs’ person-
alities and lifestyles,” said Larry
Cobb, CEO of The Company of
Animals’ U.S. sales headquarters
in Davenport, Fla.
Collar the Lead in Sales
PRODUCT MERCHANDISER FOCUS
Owners seek functional and comfortable collars and leashes in a variety
of colors and styles to embrace their pets’ personalities and lifestyles.
With the growing selection and types of leashes and collars on the market, keeping
customers in the know is more important than ever. Retailers can accomplish this
education through one-on-one interactions with customers, and manufacturers
often provide educational materials.
Nite Beams provides store banners that detail product information and feature
photos and pet owner testimonials. The company is creating an online video of all
its products for store employee training and for pet owners to view on their mobile
phones while in-store.
“The pet owner will be able to click on any product they are interested in without
having to watch the complete video,” said Mike “Tonto” Alexander, president of the
Kalamazoo, Mich., company.
“It’s essential that retailers are educated and can help guide consumers to
choose the best products possible for their pet,” said Larry Cobb, CEO of The Compa-
ny of Animals’ U.S. sales headquarters in Davenport, Fla. “Although many pet owners
may research products online, on-the-ground education is equally important, if not
more so, as retail associates can demonstrate how a product is best used, provide
helpful tips and guide owners to make the best decision possible for their dog.”
The Company of Animals furnishes a guide with each product with tips and
techniques and gives detailed information on its website.
EzyDog also includes descriptive selling features along with informative signage
and lifestyle images.
“Online videos and DVDs are available to retailers and their employees, and they
can be played in the stores for customers,” said Katie Wood, a sales and marketing
executive for the Sandpoint, Idaho, company. “We are always readily accessible to
answer questions via phone and email.”
Auburn Leathercrafters recently developed tags that feature product information
“We recognize that knowledge is power in the hands of the consumer, which
is why we include information on materials used plus care instructions for each
product we sell,” said Alan Dungey, owner of the Auburn, N. Y., company. “We [began]
introducing these new tags in June.”
The company also offers Skype training for its retail partners and entire staff,
which shares input that allows the company to improve its line as necessary, Dungey
Certain products require more education than others, said Diana Greiner, owner
of Felix & Oscar in Springfield, Va.
“Most of our education is in the proper use of Flexi leashes, for example, or no-pull harnesses,” she said.
Education begins when the pet owner walks through the door, said Norm Shrout,
co-owner of Long Leash on Life in Albuquerque, N.M. He helps consumers navigate
leash choices by problem, function, safety, etc.
MERCHANDISING AND DISPLAY
Alisha Navarro, president of 2 Hounds Design in Monroe, N.C., said that in the collars
and leashes category, retailers can get pretty creative.
“We’ve seen ladders, pallets, Christmas trees and just about anything else used as
displays,” she said. “Anything that turns heads will work.”
Felix & Oscar in Springfield, Va., uses mannequin dogs. In addition, the retailer
includes a wall that neatly displays all of its collars and leashes.
“It’s important to keep it neat so the customer has an easy time finding the pattern
and size that they want,” said Diana Greiner, owner.
Larry Cobb, CEO of The Company of Animals’ U.S. sales headquarters in Davenport,
Fla., agreed with using mannequins, adding that it’s a good idea for customers’ dogs to
try on the collars before purchase.
“A fitting session also allows staff members the opportunity to detail the advantages of a particular product that otherwise may be overlooked,” he said.
When it comes to leashes and collars, Alan Dungey, co-owner of Auburn Leathercrafters in Auburn, N. Y., agreed that sizing is important.
“That is why we recommend keeping a fabric tape measure close at hand,” he said.
Long Leash on Life in Albuquerque, N.M., hangs the collars over a horizontal bar for
ease of visibility.
“Customers easily can unfasten the collar and try it on their dog to ensure correct
sizing,” said Norm Shrout, co-owner. “The corresponding leashes for these collars
typically are hanging adjacent to the collars. They also designed a hang card that has a
curved loop that hangs over the hook.
“We’ve created many displays with specific color collars and leashes that coordi-
nate with other gear, like folding bowls, silicone travel gear, ID tags and safety blinkers,”
he added. “Sometimes placing these items together can both push a sale and enhance
Manufacturers sometimes provide merchandising assistance.
Nite Beams, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., provides its retailers with electronic
display boards that light up the collars. And EzyDog provides racks and signage, categorized by specific products, and features lifestyle images and key selling features.
“A full presentation with an assortment of colors and sizes always makes for a
more compelling display,” said Katie Wood, a sales and marketing executive for the
Sandpoint, Idaho, company. “It shows that the retailer believes in the product, and so
should their customer.”
Collar the Lead