BY KEITH LORIA
Consumers’ reasons for buying dog bowls can be practical or impulse driven. One sure-fire way to drive sales in this category is to feature bowls and feeders in must-have styles, encouraging pet owners to switch out their pets’
dishes more often.
High-end dishes tend to mirror the trends in
interior home design, and new styles are more
“With the growing attraction of the pet indus-
try, there are more and more designers entering the
market, and that is leading to a lot of exciting new
products and styles,” said Spyq Sklar, co-owner of
Wolf & Lion Pet Supplies in San Francisco. “Squared
dishes, rather than standard round bowls, is a re-
freshing change. I am also seeing many substantial
polished wood feeders as well as modernist wire-
frame designs with thicker, higher-quality stainless
Marsha Vallee, co-owner of Noble Beast Natural
Market for Pets in Phoenix, said her store carries a
basic line of stainless bowls in a variety of sizes, and
they pick and choose a few of the high-end bowls for
style and/or functionality.
“We consider what people are not likely to
have seen before and what would look cool in their
homes,” she said. “We favor ceramic and metal
bowls over plastic. Fountains and waterers are im-
portant in the desert, so we carry a variety of those,
including travel bowls and water dispensers.”
Estela Lam, a buyer for Muttropolis, which has
stores in Southern California, said she would like
to see suppliers offer more new designer bowls, as
many of the manufacturers Muttropolis buys from
have sold the same styles for years.
“We are always looking for newness in both
styles and in materials,” she said. “Our customers
want new, new, new. Some looks that are hot right
now are distressed wood styles, modern shapes and
colors, and clean, beefy ceramics.”
HAUTE NEW DESIGNS
Feeders have become a work of art, with contemporary feeders’ dimensions,
bowl sizes and wood thickness being carefully considered to create the most
balanced and eye-catching look, said Linda Brown, vice president of product
development for Bowsers Pet Products in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
“The Artisan Feeder is [our] newest addition to the category,” Brown
said. “These are made from solid rubberwood. The unique grain and natural
beauty of solid wood is enhanced by our neutral stain finishes (natural, gray
Wood and recycled/repurposed metals are very popular right now, said J.
Kent Martin, co-owner of Unleashed Life in Springfield, Mo.
“Lately, gold has made a real impact on the market,” he said. “You see
it everywhere, so we decided to create three collections with different gold
finishes. The Adour in Aged Gold Collection has an antique gold finish, The
Hampton Collection has a hammered gold finish, and the Hawthorne Collec-
tion [comes] in a metallic gold.”
Bow Wow Dog Houses of Los Angeles recently introduced dog bowls
that match its Tucker Box line of dog beds, said Larry Hobbs, president.
“The product line [of bowls and feeders] is largely developed to utilize
up-cycled materials generated from the construction of our Bow Wow Dog
FEEDING FACTS TO CONSUMERS
Many customers are concerned about where bowls are made, so staff should
point out products that are made in the USA.
“We are getting more customers asking about whether the bowls are made
in China or not, and it’s very difficult to find non-China feeders, but we have some
we can offer, and we let our customers know that,” said Estela Lam, a buyer for
Muttropolis, which has stores in Southern California. “They also often ask about
the functionality of raised feeders as well as washability.”
Consumers seek style and quality—and safety, which is why it’s
important for retailers to educate them about bowls that are lead free and
dishwasher safe, said Linda Brown, vice president of product development
for Bowsers Pet Products in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Larry Hobbs, president of Bow Wow Dog Houses in Los Angeles,
encourages the pet community, retailers and consumers to be aware of the
materials used in creating dog bowls and feeders.
“We design and build bowls that are free of toxins and are safe from any
Designs on Success
residual off gassing and that don’t leach into the pet’s organic system,” he said.
The dish on what it takes to find success with
high-end dog bowls and feeders in your store.
DISPLAY THE BUFFET
Displaying feeders can be a challenge because they don’t stack easily like
standard bowls. At Wolf & Lion Pet Supplies in San Francisco, co-owner Spyq
Sklar arranges feeders on a four-tiered table.
“This gives us a little extra flexibility for odd shapes and sizes,” he said.
At Muttropolis, which has stores in Southern California, dog bowls are
displayed in similar fashion.
“We display them on nice shelves and merchandise them with placemats to
create nice vignettes,” said Estela Lam, the buyer for the stores. “We keep them
adjacent to other home categories, such as bedding, to help inspire coordination.”
Marsha Vallee, co-owner of Noble Beast Natural Market for Pets in
Phoenix, said they like to match bowls for the holidays. For example, on
Halloween, the store will display orange bowls with metal inserts.
J. Kent Martin, co-owner of Unleashed Life in Springfield, Mo., said that a
clean, simple display works best for its dog bowl products.
“The goal is for the look of the bowls to catch the attention, and then the
quality of the product makes the sale,” he said.