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Late Spring/Early Summer Merchandising

Posted: May 27, 2011, 6:18 p.m., EDT

Wow…I was ready to call in Noah and The Arc these last several days as it has been raining cats and dogs in the Northeast (no pun intended). Hopefully, things will start drying out soon so people and their dogs can enjoy the great outdoors.

With the nicer weather and Memorial Day on the horizon, people will be putting their boats in the water and opening up their swimming pools. Now is a great time to market to your customer’s needs. I have a whole area dedicated in my stores to water-related products. In years past, lifejackets have been a strong seller. I carry the traditional yellow color and a few "fun" patterns and group them together in a focal area. When ordering for your store, make sure you carry a complete size run (Teacup to Great Dane). Interestingly enough, I sell quite a few to people with larger "water" dogs. The lifejackets give the swimming dog a little bit of a breather as they spend the whole day in the water. Displayed next to the lifejackets, I have a large selection of buoyant toys. Great for the pool or the lake, many of these buoyant toys double as durable chew toys. I like toys from the Planet Dog line or Tuffy’s line.

 Another product that has multiple uses is PAWZ, the disposable/reusable dog boots. Get your customer to see the benefits of these year-round. While their paw protection from the environment (be it salt, snow, sand or mud) is obvious, they make great pool liner protectors for people with swimming pools. With the right fit, your customer doesn’t have to worry about these form-fitting booties falling off. I sell just as many PAWZ in the summertime as I do in the middle of winter. PAWZ also make for easy clean-up of muddy paws after the dog has been out in the summer rain.

In addition to water-related products, you might want to consider carrying doggie backpacks, travel bowls and hiking boots. My shop is located in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, where hiking with the dog is a popular spring/summer activity. While there are really high-end products on the market in this category, I stock my shop with a great quality but a reasonably priced line. Know your demographics. Will your customer pay $80 to $100 for dog hiking boots? Mine won't, so I keep the price point reasonable (in the $30 to $40 range). Use a dog mannequin to "model" the complete hiking outfit: hiking boots, backpack and a travel bowl.

Don’t forget about eye-protection for the dogs. As the weather improves, the convertibles and the motorcycles start to hit the road. Every year, I sell more Doggles than I did the previous year. While some people buy them because they think they look cool on the dog, more of the Doggles purchases are out of necessity.

Of course, customers love buying a new collar/leash set or harness this time of year so make sure you are fully stocked on these items. I sell more collars/leashes/harnesses during the summer than I do the rest of the year. Preppy patterns seem to be moving well so far this spring (whales, alligators, lobsters, flamingos, etc…) as are the Major League Baseball team collars. Sporty harnesses continue to gain in popularity over the more traditional H or step-in harnesses. I have an entire wall dedicated to just sporty harnesses. My shop has about two-dozen different patterns, colors and fabrics. Try grouping your harnesses together to make an impact. Be sure to have complete size runs. I’m finding that people with larger dogs are considering them more so now than ever before.

Happy selling this late Spring/Early Summer! It won’t be long before we are mapping out our Fall Pre-Book orders.

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