Something to Tweet About
BY ETHAN D. MIZER
Offering a wide selection and adding value to customers’ experience
are the keys to unlocking success in the bird category.
Owners of pet birds are interested in a variety of options for housing their pets, with larger sizes, ease of use and durability all being factors in purchasing deci- sions, according to industry experts.
“People are going for cages and items that are going to be more durable and that
are going to hold up better,” said Kelly Parsons, manager for Denny’s Pet World in
Kirkland, Wash. “We sell a lot more cages that have larger, thicker, welded bars that the
birds aren’t going to be able to break.”
Consideration for space will vary by the species in question, but offering a variety of
options and configurations helps earn the sale, retailers reported.
“When we carry cages in one particular size, we carry several designs so customers
have several choices,” said Anna Marie Canady, owner of Sunset Beach Exotic Birds in
Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Though bigger is often better when it comes to bird cages, price is often a key deciding factor for customers shopping for habitats for their avian charges.
“My customers are basically looking for quality and a fairly good price break if we
can give it to them,” said Walt Ecklof, owner of Bird Lover’s Paradise in Matawan, N.J.
Customers often want to purchase as roomy a cage as their space will accommodate;
however, it helps for retailers to keep in mind the financial limitations a larger cage
“Customers do want larger cages overall, but affordability is often an issue,” Canady
said. “My philosophy is: the bigger, the better for a bird.”
Aesthetics come into the equation as well, as bird cages are typically on display
within a home.
“Customers are always looking for more aesthetically pleasing cages,” said Kim
Mooty, business manager at Omar’s Exotic Birds in Lake Forest, Calif. “Sometimes it’s
a fight because you want what’s a better size for the bird versus what’s better looking
for the customer’s house.”
Though good-looking enclosures are popular, for some customers, the practical con-
siderations of cleaning and maintenance might take precedent.
“Customers want attractive cages, but the main thing is ease of maintenance,” said
Lana Mills, owner of Aqua Pets & Birds in Killeen, Texas. “Most cages are not designed
with birds actually sitting in them in mind. They’re designed for ease of putting together,
dismantling and shipping.”
It’s a balancing act, and retailers will do well to consider how to offer their customers
the enclosure that’s right for their situation.
“While a bird’s quality of habitat is the primary consideration for their pet bird,
pet bird owners do want functionality and easy maintenance,” said Melanie Allen,
avian product specialist for the Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass. “If their feathered
friend’s home fits in with
the home décor, that’s a
As with many aspects of
the pet industry, competition is high in the bird
category, and cages are
particularly difficult because of their higher price
point, retailers reported.
“It’s difficult with cages because they’re a big-ticket item and they are frequently
purchased online, especially because often when we sell birds, they’re not ready to go
home yet,” Parsons said. “They’re still being hand-fed. So when customers have to wait
three weeks until their bird is ready, they don’t buy the cage immediately.”
Both big-box stores and online competition are taking a toll on cage sales in indepen-
dent pet specialty stores, but focusing on bird and accessory sales has helped retailers
“Our cage sales are probably down because of online competition, but it’s a good
thing that we have birds,” Mooty said.
Many bird specialty retailers focus on raising hand-fed birds to offer customers the
best pet experience possible, which is something most competitors aren’t able to do.
“Customers come in, they see us feeding the birds and the care that we’re giving
them,” Ecklof said. “If you don’t love the birds, this is not the business to get into. It’s
too much work. The reward is the satisfaction.”
MAKING SALES SOAR
Demand for attractive bird cage designs and functional features has grown, and pet specialty
retailers have a wide variety of options to offer customers.
Hagen Group’s Vision Cage system is designed with both aesthetics and functionality in
mind for smaller species such as canaries, finches, parakeets, lovebirds and cockatiels, said
Melanie Allen, avian product specialist for the Mansfield, Mass.-based manufacturer.
“In recent months, we have updated the colors to be more in line with today’s bird owners’
tastes,” Allen said. “In coming months, we will also introduce updated Vision cage stands
There is growing demand for flight enclosures as well, as customers
increasingly seek out these options, especially for larger species.
“With a nice flight cage, customers are always looking for a little bit
more room for their birds to fly back and forth,” said Walt Ecklof, owner of
Bird Lover’s Paradise in Matawan, N.J. “They’re able to decorate it with a
little bit more natural product.”
Ecklof likes the new flight cage from FOP, an Italian manufacturer with
distribution through ABBA Seed Co.
“[The FOP cage] has natural wood branches, a stand and a beautiful
flight cage,” he said. “It’s space economical with a powder-coat finish on
it. It’s kind of great. It’s easy to take care of with a lot of conveniences
built in such as food cups. It’s just easy to use and really nice.”
King’s Cages also sell well, Ecklof noted, as do YML and A&E cages and
carriers. Other retailers also noted success selling King’s Cages.
“The only cages I sell in my store are King’s Cages,” said Anna Marie
Canady, owner of Sunset Beach Exotic Birds in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
“They’re the top of the line. I’ve always liked them. In fact, I just switched
over to only carrying King’s Cages in my store about two years ago.”
“We’ve actually seen a lot of families come in,” Parsons said. “A lot of
people with kids and a lot of people who live in apartments and condos
are looking for companionship.”