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3:06 PM   April 16, 2014
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Diving into Pond Food
Pond food basics aren’t so basic, said Rob Mellace, general manager of Pet Express in Lynn, Mass. When breaking into this growing category, strategy is the name of the game – an essential approach to this uniquely seasonal hobby.

Starting with small quantities of many different types of food forms the basis for a strong approach.

“For starters, stay with the smaller to medium-size bags or jugs,” Mellace said. “Going too high end in the beginning will scare people away. Definitely get some of the better quality foods, but always have an availability – even if it’s just to show that you have a cheaper line – just for the attraction of getting people to walk over.”

Display techniques, too, require a little finesse. The image that you are the authority for pond foods in the area translates into creative product placement.

“The one thing I would recommend is the, ‘Pile ‘em high; watch ‘em fly’ concept,” Mellace said. “We always find that when we look like we know what we’re talking about, people have an easier time buying from us. You really want to show people that you will be an area where they can buy fish food for the whole season.”

Visit your local hardware store or supermarket and swing by the pool and spa supply for an education on seasonal display techniques with maximum sales in mind.

“Ponds are like pools,” Mellace said. “They need to be maintained correctly. Having the supplies need for them, right around the fish food, has always given us an added sale or a bonus sale.”

As with other seasonal lawn and garden product categories, timing is everything when it comes to unveiling your offerings for the year.

“We take a break November, December, January and February,” Mellace said. “Then, on March 1st, we blow it up, getting people prepared. We don’t like to lose our real estate, but we’ll lose it just to have the displays up, just to have the people thinking about their ponds.”

The sudden message the merchandise sends can by very powerful, jarring the pond-keeping into buying mode.

“Ninety percent of the people who own ponds usually have another pet,” Mellace said. “They’re frequenting the store all through the winter, so it’s a wake-up call. It gets people going again.” <HOME>

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