Chew toys serve a particularly important function for
small mammals, which need to chew to keep their teeth
healthy. For this reason, toy and chew products are
strong repeat sales items that drive traffic in pet stores.
How important is price point when it comes to
sales of chews and toys for exotics?
OFF TO A GOOD START
Small mammal owners, especially those new to the hobby, need to know upfront that
their pets require chew options to maintain dental health.
“Whenever [customers] are purchasing animals, that’s when we really dive into
what they need,” said Steven Bateman, owner of Steve’s Pet Shop in Oakhurst, Calif.
“Give the customer a choice. Tell them they need it now or later, but that they do need
[chews]. They usually pick it up right then and there.”
Birds also need a variety of offerings, but that isn’t necessarily always apparent,
especially to new owners.
“You have to enter a conversation with your customers,” said Kim Mooty,
business manager at Omar’s Exotic Birds in Lake Forest, Calif. “We always say, ‘You
can never have too many toys.’ They usually stick with the same toys because the bird
likes that particular toy.”
For small mammals, it might help to offer a variety of textures to keep pets
“We encourage retailers to communicate with customers the need to offer their
pets an assortment of textures when choosing chews and toys,” said Mary Ann
Loveland, senior associate brand manager for Kaytee Hard Goods—Pets International
in Chilton, Wis.
She recommends suggesting a hard chew made of wood for gnawing, a sisal one
for cleaning teeth and a soft chew, such as a loofah, for flossing.
VARIETY IS ESSENTIAL
In order to meet the varied needs of small mammal and bird owners, pet specialty
retailers should aim to promote a wide variety of chews and toys, reported industry
participants. It also helps to dedicate ample space in-store to give customers options.
“Our toy wall is out there,” said Kim Mooty, business manager at Omar’s Exotic
Birds in Lake Forest, Calif. “It’s a whole side of the [sales] floor. It’s wall-to-wall toys.”
It’s useful to point customers in the right direction and start a conversation
“We use sections, so we can walk the customer to different [areas],” said Steven
Bateman, owner of Steve’s Pet Shop in Oakhurst, Calif. “We take them through the
whole section of bird and the whole section of small mammal, so we can cover all of
our bases in a 20-foot line for each section.”
Retailers can capitalize on the colorful nature of toys and chews to help attract
“[These products are] colorful,” said Michael Dan, owner of RedRidge Pet Market
in Henrico, Va. “We keep a nice product mix that attracts [customers] to a section.”