COMPANIES OFFER MULTIPLE NEW OPTIONS
In March, Radio Systems Corp. in Knoxville, Tenn., launched its PetSafe 3 in
1 Harness designed to give customers the ability to easily transition from a
traditional harness to a no-pull solution. It also offers car restraint options.
The multifunctional harness includes neoprene-lined straps and reflective
nylon, said Nicole Backus, product manager—toys and behavior.
The company also released a heavy-duty version of its Easy Walk
Deluxe Harness, a no-pull option also featuring neoprene-lined straps and
New additions from Angel Pet Supplies this year include a tattoo-inspired
Angel Inked collection of five original designs drawn by California artist Jessica Fang, which utilizes a new transfer technology that allows the company to
create Fang’s designs on leather collars, said Eran Konorty, founder and CEO
of the Toronto-based company.
The company also added five designs to its Elite Collection—Tulsa,
Sedona, El Paso, El Dorado and San Antonio-black—as well as a cobalt blue
in the Classic Collection.
In June, Angel Pet Supplies debuted a Reflective Collar made of leather
and stainless steel hardware. Available in black and in seven sizes, the collar
features a large reflective strip set within channeled leather and a layer of
Also this summer, ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif., launched a line of premium
leather dog collars: the Legacy collection of classic colors and the Vivid collection of bright, chic colors. Designed as a luxury line of affordable collars,
each feature rose-gold metal accessories that complement the leather’s rich
colors, said Jennifer Cao, co-founder and vice president.
Because more dog owners include their pets on weekend hikes and park
walks, Coastal Pet Products Inc. in Alliance, Ohio, revamped its K9 Explorer
line with more variety, new bright colors and more reflective capability.
Introduced at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in July, the line includes collars with
reflective buckles and matching leashes.
Radio Systems Corp. plans to launch the PetSafe Sport Leash in October.
The adjustable leash includes a hand wrap that adjusts to the user’s palm
and converts to a standard leash with the snap of a button, Backus said,
adding that the built-in bungee extension reduces leash tension.
DISPLAYS THAT LEAD THE
WAY TO SUCCESS
While some stores stick with a teardrop rack with a waterfall display
for collars, leashes and harnesses,
insiders recommend incorporating
Taking a page from successful
pop-up shops, Kristin Moses, founder and creative director of Boots &
Arrow in Austin, Texas, recommends
that stores pull out an element
of the brand and “curate it in that
area of the store.” For example,
when working with retailers, Moses
provides boots, signs and arrows to
highlight her company brand.
“For really creative display, I’d
love to see stuffed animals or dog
mannequins to display harnesses so
[customers] can see what it would
look like on an actual dog,” said
Jamie Popper, business development
manager for Blue- 9 Pet Products
in Maquoketa, Iowa. “Display it
in a way so consumers can put
their hands on it and try it on their
dog, make sure it fits the dog and
[ensure] they can work with it.”
Because Dog & Co. in New York
has dogs in the store, they help
boost collar, leash and harness sales.
“We believe strongly that using
the products that we sell is the
best way to get to know them and
makes them super easy to sell,” said
Melinda Montney, owner.
With space at a premium in
most shops, owners must use it
wisely. Melissa Whitton, owner of
Most Valuable Pets Inc. in Lexington,
Ky., displays her collars, leashes and
harnesses on a hexagonal column
that takes up 2 square feet of store
space but is 8 feet tall and offers 12
feet of retail space.
“It’s more bang for a buck, and I
can have each panel with a different
manufacturer or theme,” she said.
However products are displayed,
Cathy LeDonne, category manager
at Coastal Pet Products Inc. in
Alliance, Ohio, said “retailers should
keep displays neat and organized,
especially by not overfilling pegs or
A HELPING PAW
Educating customers about collars, leashes and harnesses is critical, for the pet’s benefit,
retail sales and customer satisfaction. Experts agree that owners often need help pinpointing the best solution for the difficulty they are experiencing with their pet.
“They need to learn how to live with their dogs, and they’re coming to retailers to find
out how to live together and make the relationship easier,” said Shannon Arnold, creative
director for We For Dogs in Milton, Ga. “Associates need to understand their products and
the whys behind the products and help consumers see the bigger picture.”
Jennifer Cao, co-founder and vice president of ZippyPaws, located in Chino, Calif.,
said independent pet specialty stores are particularly well suited to promoting dog
“With many products like this, the brick-and-mortar retailers have a distinct
advantage,” she said. “Customers are able to touch and feel [the products] and have their
benefits explained to them by professional sales associates. In that way, consumers are
better able to make informed decisions on the best products for them and their dogs.”
Many retailers consider customer education a top priority.
“People don’t understand the purpose of the items, so you have to educate them,”
said Barry Coren, owner of Augie Doggy, which has stores in Ontario, Canada. “They like it
because it looks pretty, but you need to match the dog and the purpose.”
Coren said one-on-one communication with customers is best to address specific
needs, breeds and temperaments. And Arnold pointed out that because customers can
shop online, they really are coming into stores for the experience.
At Most Valuable Pets Inc. in Lexington, Ky., owner Melissa Whitton finds many
customers need help with how to put harnesses on—she’s seen them go on backward
and upside down—and how to adjust them, as well as reminders to increase sizes as the
puppy or kitten grows.
“We have stuffed dogs around the store to display clothing and stuff, so we grab
one of those to show them,” Whitton said. “We also fit a lot of dogs. One of the biggest
problems owners have is they put [items] on too loose and the pet chews them off. So
they can bring their dog in, and we’ll fit them and show them how tight it needs to be.”
Dog & Co. in New York has four-legged staff available to demonstrate the fit and
function of these products, said Melinda Montney, owner.
Video is another effective way to communicate with customers, Cao said.
“Consumers can easily see how to use a product and its selling points,” she said.
“Seeing the product in use also allows consumers to imagine the product in their own
lives and becomes a great selling tool.”
Videos are particularly important for millennials when face-to-face conversation is
not an option, said Jamie Popper, also a millennial and the business development manag-
er for Blue- 9 Pet Products in Maquoketa, Iowa. She added that comparative infographics
that “outline the differences without badmouthing other products” is helpful.
How are your store’s sales of collars, leashes and
harnesses, and what do you attribute that to?
“They were static for a while until I started using
my millennial staff’s opinions about trends the past
couple of years, and that has worked out for us. Unlike
the older generations who will keep their collars and
harnesses until they fall apart, millennials change
their collars and harnesses more frequently. So we
started changing the inventory two times a year
(fall/winter and spring/summer), and that has really
boosted sales. They’ve gone up at least 20 percent.”
—MELISSA WHITTON, owner of Most Valuable Pets
Inc. in Lexington, Ky.