’Tis the Season for Sales
Start planning your stock for the fall and winter holidays early to ensure you have that special something for every good pet.
Holidays are a great time for pet owners to celebrate their dogs and cats. Manufacturers recognize the importance of commemorating these special days of the year, and they are providing retailers with an array of holiday goodies to stock this year.
Planet Dog in Westbrook, Maine, plans to introduce a line of holiday-themed dog gifts at SuperZoo in Las Vegas this month, said Amanda O’Brien, director of marketing.
“Sixty-seven percent of dog owners plan to purchase a gift for their dog at the holidays,” O’Brien said. “Dog owners consider their pets part of the family. We want to make our holiday products festive, fun but also durable and something that they will enjoy for a long time.”
Mike Dagne, director of operations for Pet Palette LLC, a distributor and wholesaler in Sykesville, Md., said the holiday gift market is the most critical time of year for his company’s retail customers.
“Most retailers in the industry might do 35 to 40 percent of their business in the fourth quarter,” he said. “With some of these customers being repeat customers, we know it is important to give these retailers new, fresh products each year.”
Pet Palette has new offerings in the company’s Huxley & Kent and Lulubelles lines, said Robin Kershner, the company’s executive vice president.
“For Huxley & Kent, we have holiday scrunchies, bow ties, long ties and pullover and hoodie sweaters with a holiday theme,” she said. “The Huxley & Kent holiday scrunchie line includes a new mint stripe, and for the first time, we are launching bow ties and long ties in three holiday looks. The sweaters will feature new designs for the holiday including a Ho Ho Ho pattern, Snowflake, Reindeer and more.”
New additions to Pet Palette’s Lulubelles line include a Snowman Sock Monkey toy.
“Also, the Christmas Sock Monkeys will have babies this year,” said Kershner. “This will make a complete Sock Monkey family in our plush toy line, with a total of eight characters.”
Lisa Hisamune, associate director of sales for P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco, said P.L.A.Y. has introduced new toys for the coming winter holiday season.
“This year, we have our Santa’s Little Squeakers holiday plush toys, inspired by classic Christmas ornaments and ugly Christmas sweaters,” she said. “They come individually or as a retailer set with a cardboard Christmas Tree POP display so that you can hang the [plush toy] ornaments on it.”
p.l.a.y. (pet lifestyle and you)
In addition, P.L.A.Y. has introduced a three-piece Hanukkah toy set inspired by Hanukkah’s most iconic symbols, Hisamune said.
West Paw Design in Bozeman, Mont., is offering its classic line of holiday-inspired toys, in addition to new items for 2015.
“This year, we are adding some new additions like our Snowbird, Holiday Floppy Dogs for dogs and Holiday Field Mouse for cats,” said Spencer Williams, president and owner. “People love their pets, and when their pet receives a gift, it’s as special to the pet owner as it is to the pet.”
Edible gifts are another popular category for the holidays, said Jessica Talley, founder and CEO of Bubba Rose Biscuit Co. in Boonton, N.J.
“We added four seasonal collections to cover all major holidays throughout the year,” she said. “For fall, we have new monster-themed cake pops, which are one of our best-selling items. They come with their own free countertop display. For winter, we have two new styles of cake pops, including a winter Snow Pals set and a Christmas holiday set.”
Talley added that Bubba Rose has introduced many new bulk cookie and cake bite styles for the fall and winter holidays, as well as new Fourth of July treats.
“Personalized gourmet treat gifts are a category that always does well during the holidays,” said Kim Kavanagh, senior buyer for In The Company of Dogs, an online and catalog retailer based in Chelmsford, Mass. “A cookie tin filled with up to 4 pounds of gourmet dog cookies in assorted holiday shapes personalized with the dog’s name is a gift that you can’t go wrong with!”
In The Company of Dogs carries an extensive assortment of personalized products in this category from Claudia’s Canine Cuisine in Maumelle, Ark., Kavanagh said.
“They are handmade and freshly baked in the USA using all-natural ingredients,” she said. “These are qualities that our customers look for in the treat category.”
Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has stores in Southern California, also finds edible gifts to be popular for the holidays.
“We offer seasonal and holiday flavors in treats from Polka Dog Bakery, Bubba Rose and Fruitables,” she said. “We supplement these treats with other flavors like Cranberry, and Pumpkin from Grandma Lucy’s. We then add a great deer or elk antler display for our powerful chewers.”
Pet owners particularly enjoy buying treats for their pets during holiday seasons, Zakrajsek said.
“For many, I believe it’s the aspect of fun, or the perception that they are spoiling their pets,” she said. “If you are feeling nostalgic, as most people are during holidays, it is enjoyable to get fun things for your pets for holiday gifts.”
When it comes to buying gifts during the holidays, pet-oriented products can make life easier, said Jamie Judson, owner of City Bark in Grosse Pointe, Mich.
“The holidays are a very stressful time of the year for most people,” she said. “A lot of that stress comes from trying to figure out the perfect gift, whether it’s for a relative, co-worker or neighbor down the street. However, if you know the person you are buying for has a pet that they love, it makes figuring out a gift much easier.”
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Manufacturers offer a variety of gift items designed to appeal to people who love dogs and cats. Dog Is Good in Los Alamitos, Calif., launched several gift items earlier this year. These new products include a set of heavy cotton tote bags and several apparel items, said Gila Kurtz, founder, co-owner and vice president of sales.
“[The tote bags] have a fully lined interior, a zippered interior pocket and a magnetic closure,” she said. “They feature our best-selling pop art designs and three poignant and humorous messages.”
The totes were selected as a Best In Show winner in the Boutique category of the New Product Showcase at this year’s Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., Kurtz said. New apparel items in the Dog Is Good line include a “Dog Is My Zen” tunic hoodie, several sleepwear options and two pop art designs: “OMG!!! I Forgot to Have Children!,” and “We Had to Give the Children Away … Mr. Puddingstone Was Allergic.” The company also has released new Cat Is Good items, including T-shirts, decorative magnets and mugs. Kurtz said that her company’s products reflect a change in attitudes toward pet ownership.
“We know that dogs change lives, and that the positive impact pets have on their people has created a shift in lifestyle,” she said. “As dogs have migrated from the backyard to the family room, to our bedrooms and now into our beds, the focus on ‘dog as family’ has become a lifestyle for many dog owners.”
In keeping with the theme of pets as family, Bobbi Panter Pet Products in Chicago has introduced gift-oriented products designed for pet owners.
“We have Dog Mom and Dad mug towers, grooming gifts with our shampoo and a matching toy, baking tins with our Bebe & Cece biscuit mix and Crazy Cat Lady gifts,” said Bobbi Panter, president and founder. “There is something for every dog and cat lover.”
All of these gifts come in decorative packaging, with the baking items’ packaging featuring her own dogs, Bebe and Cece, as the models, Panter added.
Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has stores in Southern California, finds that candles, books and baking kits are popular gift items for pet lovers.
“These are easy gifts for pet-enthusiast humans and can easily be paired with treats and toys for the pets to make a really great gift basket,” she said.
Robb Horen, vice president of Dog Savvy in Denver, said that the holidays generate a lot of interest in gift items for pet-loving humans.
“Holiday gift items for people do very well in our store,” he said. “We carry an assortment of items from Dog Is Good—everything from T-shirts to coasters that show a person’s love of dogs.”—AP
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Pet Product News.