Dog Marketplace: Clean Up With Waste Solutions
Manufacturers make an unglamorous chore as easy—and profitable—as possible.
By Stacy N. Hackett
The Kriser’s chain of pet stores actively promotes responsible waste pickup.
“We have a unique group called the Poo Fairies, who go out into dog parks, streets and events in the communities around our stores,” said Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of the chain, which has stores in the Chicago and Denver areas as well as Houston and Southern California. “They hand out free poop bags and help people remember to clean up after their pets in public areas. If we see someone cleaning up their dog’s waste, we thank them with extra bags or a whole pack of them in a carrier, along with a sticker that says, ‘I scooped.’”
Kriser’s novel promotion puts a positive spin on an unglamorous yet necessary aspect of dog ownership: waste management.
“Buying poop bags is such an odd experience, because you’re actually buying something with the intent of throwing it away,” said Gracie Whalen, co-owner of Chicago retailer Jameson Loves Danger.
Still, Whalen’s customers look for specific features when purchasing dog waste management products. While price remains a top priority, Whalen said her customers have become increasingly conscious of the environmental impacts of the products.
“Our customers want easy-to-use, sturdy and biodegradable poop bags,” she said, noting that she stocks products from PoopBags.com, Loft 312 and Earth Rated. “We have a limited space, so we’ve had to be selective and really tried to educate ourselves about the brands.”
Displays that make an impact remind owners it might be time to purchase poop bags or other waste management items. Maface Solutions
Earth-friendly waste management remains a top priority for manufacturers, too.
“That has always been our mission since day one, and that’s what guides us to this day,” said Paul Cannella, president of PoopBags.com in Chicago. “That’s how and why we launched both the Eco-Eco PoopBag and the new USDA Certified Biobased PoopBags.”
Specially designed scoops offer a convenient method for owners to clean up after their dogs.
“We understand the necessity of collecting our pets’ nature calls to ensure our yard is clean and free of the odorous deposits made daily by our three dogs,” said Wally Nichols, owner of Sandpoint, Idaho-based Doggy Dun It. “The Poop Pickup Scoop provides no-fuss, no-mess poop collection.”
The scoop offers one-handed operation, the capacity to collect multiple deposits in a biodegradable bag and the ability to retrieve waste from grass, flower beds, dirt, concrete and asphalt, Nichols said. The company also offers biodegradable, tie-handle Poop Pickup Bags that work in conjunction with the scoop.
Maface Solutions of Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, also offers a scoop to manage dog waste. The Dooup Complete Pet Waste Cleaner (CPWC) is designed for use on grassy areas where retrieval might be more difficult, said Helen Morris, marketing director.
“The Dooup CPWC is particularly effective on grass to get beneath the waste and flick it into the storage chamber,” she said. “During each push of the lever, a milliliter of garden-friendly, bacteria-killing sanitizing fluid is dispersed over the affected area and onto the inner scoop.”
Customers at Elephant Nose Pet Center in Morristown, N.J., appreciate the convenience of scoop-type products, said owner Julie Pilas. Along with traditional poop bags, she stocks scoops that retrieve waste already on the ground as well as a product that captures the waste mid-deposit.
“We have the Catch-it that catches the poop before it hits the ground,” Pilas said. “With the Catch-it you don’t have to see, smell or touch the pet’s poop.”
Kriser’s stores stock a variety of poop bags and poop bag carriers to give customers different options.
“We choose to offer an assortment that features the most popular types of waste management products, with an eye toward sustainability and performance,” Kriser said. “We make sure the poop bags are front and center in most of our stores, and oftentimes you’ll hear our staff asking [customers] if they need them during checkout.”
PoopBags.com’s Cannella also recommends stocking waste management products near the cash register.
“Dog waste bags are not a glamour product, and folks forget about them,” he said. “When they’re going over that list of things they ran into the store for, then they see poop bags, you’re doing them a favor.”
Marie Svet, founder of Organic Oscar in San Diego, suggests stocking related products, such as pet wipes, near the cash register. She also recommends that employees remind dog owners of their availability.
“Pet wipes help maintain the dog’s cleanliness longer without having to wash them,” Svet said. “Dogs are family. They spend time with us on the couch, the bed. So we wanted to help pet parents feel comfortable about having their dogs on the couch without having to constantly wash their dogs.”
Another product in the dog waste management category is Dog Rocks, formulated to help prevent pet urine burn patches on the lawn. The natural product from Australia works by filtering impurities from a dog’s water; the rocks are simply placed in the dog’s bowl, said Carina Evans, CEO of Dog Rocks in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England.
Dog Rocks offers point-of-sale display boxes and brochures to explain the features of the product. Doggy Dun It, PoopBags.com and Maface Solutions offer printed materials as well, and Maface Solutions provides a comprehensive video that shows how to use the Dooup, Morris said.
Such materials help employees explain the benefits of the products, but personal experience can be the best selling point.
“The easiest way to sell anything is to have your staff committed to it,” Jameson Loves Danger’s Whalen said.
Clean Up Continued: Healthy Digestion, Happy Noses
Manufacturers offer a range of supplements to improve digestion and create a more pleasant elimination experience for dogs—and their owners.
“OptaGest helps combat gas, odor, inconsistent stools, allergies and sensitivities,” said Rebecca Rose, president and product developer for In Clover in Boulder, Colo. “OptaGest contains clinically tested levels of the prebiotic organic inulin and enzymes that work to restore a healthy balance in the digestive system.”
Animal Essentials in Victor, Mont., offers a similar product.
“Our Plant Enzymes & Probiotics formula serves to improve digestion and waste elimination by activities of multiple digestive enzymes that work to break down food materials that might otherwise be difficult for a carnivore to digest,” said Greg Tilford, an herbalist and founding president of the company. “The result: less flatulence, better nutrient absorption and less offensive stool.”
To address another frustrating elimination issue experienced by dogs, Vetnique Labs of Lisle, Ill., offers Glandex, a supplement that supports healthy anal gland and digestive function. Glandex “is formulated to help pets naturally empty the anal glands and targets the underlying inflammation and allergies that trigger anal gland problems,” said Bridget Swanson, account representative.
Manufacturers recommend stocking digestive aid supplements near each other and also by the checkout. In Clover offers trial sized “sticks” of OptaGest with a suggested retail price of 99 cents.
“Placing a box of trial-size sticks at the register and suggesting it to clients who you know are traveling, switching food or otherwise may want to boost their pets’ immune systems is a great way to raise awareness,” Rose said. “[It] lets people try it out at a low price point before committing to the larger size.”—SNH