OLD-FASHIONED CUSTOMER SERVICE
Bedding serves an essential function with small animals, and not all bedding is created equal,
so retailers and manufacturers agree that consumer education is paramount.
“Different styles of bedding are better for certain types of animals, so it’s important
for pet parents to understand all the available options and whether it’s a good fit for their
companion’s habitat as well as their own home,” said Phoebe Stanley, associate marketing
manager, specialty pet, for Vitakraft Sun Seed Inc. in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Consumers often need help to understand their pets’ needs and how bedding affects
those needs, said Angie Schmitt, senior brand manager for Chilton, Wis.-based Kaytee
Products Inc., a part of Central Garden & Pet Co.
“As their understanding grows, so does their rate of success, creating a more enjoyable
and rewarding experience for both them and their pet,” Schmitt said.
Educating employees so they can offer guidance to consumers is a primary focus at
PetSaver Healthy Pet Superstore in Rochester, N. Y. Lora Sturm, operations manager, said
the store has invited manufacturer representatives to come in and explain the benefits of
products and how to recommend the correct bedding.
“Employees trying the product at home is also a major help,” Sturm said. “Since they
personally use the product themselves, they can then recommend it to a customer.”
Cindy Krizmanich, manager of Martin’s PawMart in Elkhart, Ind., said that unsanitary
cage conditions and inappropriate bedding can lead to health problems for small pets. There-
fore, retailers must equip customers with knowledge to make educated bedding choices.
“The most effective way we have found to educate our customers on the product
has been to speak with the customer one on one,” Krizmanich said. “Signs are great, but
there is no guarantee that the customer will read it; it is best to go back to old-fashioned
According to Kari Angle, manager of Nature’s Pet Salem in Salem, Ore., many owners rely
on word-of-mouth or an internet search for their information.
“The popularity of the new types of bedding has spread widely, and it seems that much
of the information customers find online backs up what we tell them,” she said. “[However,]
don’t assume your customer has an option they already like. They could have missed what’s
on your shelves or may not know there’s something better.
“Never assume, and just bring it up in your sale,” Angle added. “If they already have
something they like, maybe show them a new color option available.”
SHOW IT OFF
To merchandise small animal bedding effectively,
category experts recommend using the products in-store
in live-pet habitats as well as on endcaps and through
“Set up the ideal habitat for pets and utilize the prod-
uct you want to sell,” said Ashley Rademacher, animal
care and education coordinator for Zoo Med Laboratories
in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “This allows customers to see
the product in use and understand how it is to be used
and what it can look like in their home.
“It also allows employees to use the product,
making them better prepared to answer questions and
recommend the product for petkeepers to use at home,”
For businesses that do not have live animals in-store,
or as another selling opportunity, Lucas Stock, commu-
nications manager for Oxbow Animal Health in Murdock,
Neb., encourages retailers to invite customers to feel
the differences between products by displaying boxes
containing opened bedding in the aisle or at the counter.
At Martin’s PawMart in Elkhart, Ind., small animal
bedding is displayed together, with the store’s recommended bedding at eye level.
“It has been very effective to have all the bedding
together rather than by brand because the customer
can see it all at once and not just see one brand and stop
there,” said Cindy Krizmanich, manager. “Sometimes,
Lora Sturm, operations manager for PetSaver
Healthy Pet Superstore in Rochester, N. Y., said the store’s
small animal bedding is displayed on a pallet and in the
“They are stacked flat with the nice label facing
out,” she said. “[We] can fit more on the shelf this way,
and they stack much better on a pallet. They are slippery
bags, so we do not want them to fall!”
A&E CAGE CO.’S Original Voyager
Travel Carrier is now available in
a tan style. The print is made with
soft greens, blues and tans to make a
fashionable accessory for travel with a
pet. The carrier comes with a padded
and adjustable shoulder strap. The
entire front of the carrier zips open
for easy access, and the interior floor
covering can be removed for easy
cleaning. The product has a durable
reinforced plastic shell with cotton
canvas overlays and a coated plastic
interior. The roomy, well-ventilated
carrier includes a wooden perch with
two placement areas so owners can
customize the carrier for their bird’s
;:::;= 22;0$;;& 20
72<6;0$'(;:, 7+;',))( 5(17;WH[WXUHV
)25;* 22';, 17( 5$& 7,21;;;IXQ;;