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Pet Store Tips Flow Freely on Idea Wall

Posted: Sept. 26, 2013, 1:05 p.m. EDT

Visitors to Backer’s Total Pet Expo who were inspired by what they saw at the Pet Store on the Floor were invited to share retail and merchandise advice of their own.

The Idea Wall, a 30-foot-long panel, showcased dozens of written statements from retailers and other pet industry veterans. The best idea, selected after the show, earned the author a free iPad.

The ideas ranged from a desire for pet food variety packs to why remembering a customer’s name is so important. A sampling:

• Give employees who work at other pet stores a discount. They appreciate it and it encourages them to shop at your store. Then when they are out of something or don’t sell it, the competition is sending customers to your store.
— Kelly Parsons of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash.

 Idea Wall
Linda Yost, owner of Pets Are People Too in Warren, Ohio, checks out Idea Wall entries.
Photo by Ken Niedziela
• Dog and cat food manufacturers: Make all your bags (small, medium, large) the same width so they will display vertically and uniformly without wasted space. It will show and display 100 percent better.
— Bob Hames of Animal Jungle in Virginia Beach, Va.

• Our store loves and praises the benefits of feeding a raw diet, so we have a "raw gang” on our wall to help us promote it. We asked our customers to give us their pet’s photo as well as basic info to illustrate the varieties of animals and health problems that can benefit from a raw diet.
— Treat Play Love in Grand Forks, N.D.

• During the holiday season, create a stocking stuffer area. The customer gets to pick certain sized stock at a fixed price, and the treats, toys, etc., to fill the stocking. They can also donate a portion to an animal rescue.
— Lori Leduc of Canine Oasis Day Spa in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

• Know your customers by name. My husband, Paul, has a great memory and folks are always impressed when he says, "Hi, Carol. How’s Rusty and Tanner doing?” He even remembers what they feed their dogs, so when I call from our other store, asking a question for a customer, he knows exactly what they need.
— Doreen Lucius of Muddy Paws Canine Center in Westminster, Vt.

• Follow your area’s trend. We are located in a very tourism-oriented location, so in the summer, lake activities and motorcycle tours are popular, while in winter, football takes center stage. We are on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, so we carry pet accessories for both teams. Also, we encourage our customers to experience the animals by touching and holding them, and we even have some resident animals that are everyone’s favorites.
— The Pet Store in Siren, Wis.

• Get small paper bags with your logo on them. Every time a dog comes into the store, they get a treat bag. Give them a sample of three to four treats for them to try before they buy.
— Pam Alerine of Style Mutt in Cleveland

• [Manufacturers should] make split bags with more than one flavor in it. This is a great option for owners with picky pets.
— Paul Lucius of Bellows Falls Pet Shoppe in Bellows Falls, Vt.

• Never judge a customer by the way they are dressed, questions they ask or how many times they stop by without a purchase. The positive comments they share about your store and the welcome they feel mean more than the cash register ringing. How your community feels about you is priceless. It will keep your doors open and sales will come and the circle will be complete.
— Jo Johnson of Posh Pets Boutique in Columbus, Ohio

• Always have a relationship with your local humane society or animal shelter. Whether it is simply having a donation canister on your register or donating recently expired good, etc., the goodwill and appreciation you earn will be well worth the effort.
— Brent Jenson of Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee


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