BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH
Leashes and collars come in a cornu- copia of styles and colors. From sim- ple and understated to dazzling and
bright to funky and functional, the market is filled with options.
Many aspects of the pet industry mirror human trends. ;ften, people who pay
attention to fashion trends will apply that
sense of style to their pets.
“The biggest trends are the accesso-
ries of bows and buds,” said AdreAnne
Tesene, co;owner of Two ;ostons, which
has stores in Illinois. “It’s an easy and
fun way to update the look without pur-
chasing an entire new collar and leash
set. We also love to add on removable
tag rings or accessories like Freeze Tags
or collar lights.”
Climate can dictate trends, as is the
case at ;dyssey ;ets in ;allas. The warm
climate sees many dogs enjoying the pool,
so many pet owners are looking for odor-
less and waterproof rubberized collars,
said co;owner Sherry ;edwine. ;ther
strong sellers include the DOOG brand of
products, including a walking or running
belt that connects to the leash, allowing for
hands;free dog walking.
;;verall, we;ve noticed the trend of
quality and function over trendy piz-zazz,” she said, adding that she has replaced the store;s blingy collars with the
;upine line, which she said is functional
and comes in cute colors, and the Dog-line line of leather collars.
Kelly Drysden, manager of Leisure
Leash in Temecula, Calif., said that she’s
seen an increased interest in leashes for active dog owners, such as hands;free leashes
that make it easier to travel with a dog.
;erman;based ;le;i, which has ;.S. of-
fices in Charlotte, N.C., is launching a range
of tape leashes called Flexi Giant. Manag-
ing director ;ichard Schmidt said the ;le;i
;iant is designed specifically for dog own-
ers who love robust leashes. It ;ensures dog
owners have the most en;oyable e;perience
by providing an ergonomic soft grip for
higher comfort, 26 feet of tape for greater
freedom of movement, a patented, single
brake button for convenient, safe control
of dogs, and a neon-colored belt for higher
visibility,” Schmidt said.
At ;og.; og.Cat. in South ;ake Tahoe,
Calif., co;owner ;eorge ;ichter reported
that feature-packed collars and leashes,
such as those that double as poop-bag
holders and are re;ective, ad;ustable or
adaptable to two dogs, are trending up.
These items appeal to ;ichter because
the store “can offer a collar at a slightly
higher retail price, and the customer per-
ceives value in buying an atypical ‘big-
bo; store; collar.”
Another ma;or concern for pet own-
ers is safety, which factors in to leash and
collar buying decisions, said Kirbay Pre-
uss, ;oor manager at ;reuss ;ets in ;an-
sing, ;ich. ;reuss said that breakaway
collars do well for them, along with no;
;ordie Spater, co;owner of Salisbury,
Mass.-based Kurgo, agreed that safety is
a huge concern.
;;ur market research shows that pet
owners are concerned with safety and con-
trol when it comes to walking and outdoor
products,” he said. ; They want products
that help them control their dog so they
can protect them from other dogs, vehicles
or getting into dangerous situations.”
A few new releases for ;urgo include
the ;umble ;eash (a rope leash); the As-
cender ;eash, a nautical rope leash with
a slipknot; and new colors and designs of
the ;uck Collar. And to appease the ac-
tive dog owner, in addition to the running
system that includes a harness, leash and
running belt, this fall the company will re-
lease a system for skijoring, canicross and
other joring sports.
An eye;catching design is only one of
many features that pet owners might seek
in these products.
“The hottest trends are products that aid
in training, as well as fresh, fashion;forward
collars and leashes that are not only aesthet-
ically appealing, but also have the quality,
comfort and durability behind them,” said
;ran ;onorty, founder and C;; of Angel
;et Supplies in Toronto.
;roud pet owners also like to advertise
their pets’ story.
“I have noticed a big trend in collars that
say ‘adopted’ and ‘rescued.’ I have also noticed that zebra print and skulls and crossbones are hot sellers,” ;reuss said.
;etailers who are in tune with their customers and their wants have a better shot
of stocking merchandise that will sell, a
principle that Tesene lives by.
“We tend to stock a consistent selection
of best-sellers and then rotate in seasonal
selections,” she said.
;n the flip side, while listening to
customers is important, ;edwine said,
;;ou can;t bring in a whole line of col-
lars and leashes just because one person
Tesene advised retailers to avoid get-
ting stuck in a rut of offering the same
;Switch it up and have fun,” she said.
“With some of the trendier designs like
mustaches or doughnuts, it’s smart to go
a bit deeper with the stock at first, but then
be quicker to faze it out to make room for
;edwine has tweaked her leashes and
collar selection over the years based in part
on the recession. She said that people were
not buying what she calls the ;frou frou
blingy type stuff,” so she transitioned to
more practical items, such as slip leads.
For the most part, though, she said
stocking the store with leashes and col-
lars has been a trial-and-error learning
Having a selection that caters to local
preferences and tastes is also key.
Preuss Pets is located in a city that is
surrounded by rural areas. Preuss noticed
that the more rural customers tend to like
the orange and camouflage patterns, a
nod to the hunters in the area, while city;
based clientele en;oys the more;whimsical
patterns. The retailer’s solution is to stock
a bit of both.
Having a great selection of collars and
leashes that are thoughtfully merchandised
can spell sales success for retailers.
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