Shining a Spotlight on Safety
Offering reflective gear and light-up collars, leashes and harnesses can help keep dogs and their
owners safe during outdoor adventures.
BY LINDSEY GETZ
Safety is often a concern at the forefront of dog owners’ minds. As such, offering products that help keep dogs safe—such as LED light-up collars and leashes and reflective wear—can be a boon to an independent pet specialty retailer’s
bottom line, especially for retailers that take the time to educate dog owners about
why these products are important.
According to Brad Locke, founder of Nashville, Tenn.-based Glopup, 1.2 million
dogs are hit and killed on roads each year, and, in most cases, the dogs were hit because the driver didn’t see them. Locke said that a high-quality LED collar or leash
could help alert drivers that a dog is close from up to 1,000 feet away, which would
give them time to slow down and potentially prevent an accident.
“Pet owners should know they don’t have to compromise on other important
features in collars and leashes in order to get the LED visibility benefit,” Locke added,
adding that Glopup recently expanded the sizes of its products in all colors in order
to be able to serve dogs of all sizes. “They should still expect the highest-quality ma-
terials, comfort, durability and long life out of a leash or collar.”
While there is a clear need for these types of products, depending on the region,
retailers noted some variation when it comes to consumer interest in safety collars,
leashes and gear.
Caleb Fretz of Dogs & Cats Rule, which has locations in Pennsylvania and New
Jersey, reported that many of the retailer’s shoppers do not typically walk their dogs
at night. However, he added, they might be more inclined to buy reflective wear or
light-up products for a camping trip.
But in more rural areas, like Bend, Ore., where Bend Pet Express has two locations, reflective or light-up leashes and collars are a big seller, according to the
store’s chief happiness officer Kim McCohan—and her customers are even using
these products in their backyards.
“Because we live in a smaller rural area and people have backyards that consist of
acres, they want to be able to see their dog when they let it out at night,” she said. “It’s
very dark in most areas because the street lights are few and far between, so reflective
items sell well here.”
Pet specialty retailers that get creative with their collar, leash and harness displays can
generate consumer interest in these products, according to industry insiders.
Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., said that her leash and
collar display is an attention grabber because the products are displayed on an old iron coat
“All of our displays attempt to become part of the overall experience of shopping here,”
Strong said. “It’s not something you’d see in a big-box store, and that’s exactly why customers
shop here—to find products they feel they couldn’t find somewhere else. I try to create that
Susan Strible, director of marketing for Bend, Ore.-based Ruffwear, said that the company
encourages retailers to showcase leashes with complementary collars.
“Our customers enjoy the complete setup, using a collar and a leash that are designed to
match and function together,” she added.
Tom Rogers, owner of Panhandle Pet Supply in Tallahassee, Fla., agreed that matching
collars and leashes is important for encouraging multi-item purchases.
“Collars and leashes are big sellers for us, and people can’t seem to get enough of them,”
he said. “They’ll often buy both if they coordinate, so we make sure to display them together.”
When it comes to incorporating a safety message into displays, there are many opportunities
for retailers to get creative, said Kitter Spater, chief creative officer and co-founder of Kurgo in
Spater suggested having light-up items on display in-use so that customers can see how
they work. Along with that, he added that signage with simple safety tips—such as the fact that
driving during the day with headlights turned on can reduce vehicle accidents by 25 percent—
can also help pique interest.
Steven Triedman, “big dog” of Corky’s Reflective Wear in Cranston, R.I., said that safety is its
own category and should be a prominent section of any pet specialty retail shop.
“We have a Safety Center that covers only two square feet and uses smart graphics to drive
home the safety message,” Triedman said. “Some retailers also use a stuffed dog to showcase a
Corky’s jacket. You can place it in a far corner or hang it from a ceiling and periodically shine a
flashlight on it to demonstrate the reflectivity.”