I blogged recently about the decision to stock Thundershirts in my boutiques, instead of selling them on a special order basis as I had done. That decision continues to pay dividends with Thundershirt sales still on the rise and thunderstorm season not too far off. Since I’m feeling particularly confident lately, I’ve made a similar decision with respect to carrying dog food in my treat and apparel boutiques.
Originally, I shied away from carrying dog food for a number of reasons: 1) I had limited floor space; 2) the margins are smaller than most of the other products I offer; 3) there is fierce competition in this category from all different directions (big-box pet stores, grocery stores, feed stores, etc.); and 4) the number of offerings is mind-boggling.
As most of you who follow this blog know, I recently moved my Downtown Saratoga Springs, N.Y., store to a larger location and am no longer space limited. While the margins are lower on dog food, selling it does promote more frequent visits, which should correlate to more frequent purchases of other items that carry larger margins. Therefore, offering dog food should pay for itself in the long run.
With regards to competition, I’ve been doing my homework on what to offer. Being a boutique, my customers are willing to pay a little extra for better quality. I’ve used the website DogFoodAdvisor extensively and have identified a few different dog food brands I haven’t seen locally that I’m planning to try. I’m not going to identify them at this point in time because doing so would be an endorsement…I want to get some runtime on them, see what my customers think, before endorsing the products.
One concern that I do have is in regards to the recent rash of dog food recalls. As you probably know, the recalls are not confined to lower-end dog food brands. They have touched all ends of the quality spectrum. You can look at the company’s manufacturing history, the size of the operation, the ingredients used, etc., and make an educated decision on who to go with. However, there are no guarantees and you have to rely on the company’s integrity, as well as the oversight of the FDA and USDA and hope for the best.
I’ll let you know in a couple of months my initial impressions of offering dog food in my boutiques. Hoping for the best!
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