BY CARRIE BRENNER
Pet dishes, feeders and their ac- companying accessories look more and more like modern
art, and boutiques have banished
boring bowls and plain-colored
placemats from their shelves.
That’s because pet owners now
look to these pieces as ways to enhance their home environment.
“There are so many ways to express your creativity or your own
personal style,” said Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch
Pethouse and Pawbar, which has
stores in Southern California.
Zakrajsek points to Target’s
concept of design for all as evidence that even consumers with
smaller budgets still want, and
can have, pet products with style.
“You can have very smart-
looking products that don’t nec-
essarily have to be superexpen-
sive, but they’ve been designed
well and they’re at an affordable
price point,” she said.
Contemporary designs, metallic finishes and eco-friendly
materials sell well, said J. Kent
Martin, co-founder and head
of design for Unleashed Life in
“We tend to avoid fad trends
in home décor and design our
product range to fit more classic,
lasting interiors,” Martin said.
What is popular changes with
the seasons, said Sara O’Neill,
co-founder of Kess InHouse, a
San Diego-area manufacturer
that offers thousands of designs
to choose from for pet bowls and
“Independent pet retailers
definitely have to keep up with
what the trends are in the market,” O’Neill said.
Worldwise in San Rafael,
Calif., keeps an eye on trending
designs, but it also focuses on
solution-based innovation in its
development process, said Aimee Diskin, director of innovation and product development.
“This includes ergonomic
solutions, such as elevated dishes to ease neck strain, shallow
cat dishes to prevent whisker
stress, and shapes that are easy
for the pet parent to pick up off
the floor,” she said. “What consumers really want are items that
will make their lives easier and
improve their pets’ lives as well.”
Silicone and stainless steel
materials offer hygiene and easy-to-clean convenience, said Zakrajsek, who noted that dishes and
feeders that use stainless steel for
the bowl portion are popular.
THE WAY TO DISPLAY
Presentation is the most important consideration for selling
high-end dishes and feeders,
“You have to present it in a
way that makes it special,” she
said. “If you’re trying to sell a
feeder that’s $100 or $200 or $300,
you can’t have it on a shelf by it-
self all dusty next to something
else that doesn’t even tell a story.”
She said she groups feeders
with other items and puts them
in her stores’ windows or main
in-store displays and rotates
them based on their color story.
During the fall or for winter
holidays, for example, she recommends incorporating red,
white or earth-toned feeders into
displays—“something that helps
to tell the narrative of what the
season is,” she said.
Retailers can make attractive
bowl displays by stacking the
products in a pyramid for a sculp-tural display in a store window or
island, said Courtney Lachance,
“Help the consum-
er envision the product
in their home by dis-
playing items with pet
mannequins or using
images showing the
products in a home environ-
ment,” Diskin said.
It’s important, too, to have a
well-rounded selection. In her
stores, Zakrajsek said, standing,
elevated feeders do well, but she
also stocks a variety of individu-
al melamine bowls with remov-
able stainless steel inserts.
“They are a really fun, lower-price-point item, so for someone
who’s not ready for the commitment of a designer double feeder, having that as a lower-priced
option is an important way to diversify your merchandising mix,”
she said. n
Set the Table
Trends in high-end dishes and feeders have pets eating from
stylish products in an array of colors and materials.
Owners are going all
out to ensure their four-legged friends truly are
part of the family—with
and home amenities of
“It all started with a pet door,” Sherry Gregor recalled.
She and her husband, Keith, wanted an easy way for Max, a Staffordshire bull
terrier, and Gusto, a cane corso, to go outside their Cincinnati home. One thing led to
another, and now the living room is the dogs’ bedroom, complete with raised beds,
deck and pool access, storage for toys and food, and a treat dispenser.
The Gregors are not alone. According to a recent survey by Houzz.com—an online
platform for design and remodeling—more than one-third of homeowners have done
some pet-related remodeling in the last two years, including upgraded flooring and
reconfigured room layouts.
“It’s part of a growing trend,” said Ellen Cheever, a kitchen and bath designer in
Wilmington, Del. “We are no longer pet owners; we are pet parents. These animals are
family members. [Clients want a] place for their dogs to be comfortable in the spaces
we design for them.”
New-home builders are moving on the trend by including pet amenities such as
suites, washing stations and feeding zones.