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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Monday, August 10, 2009

What’s A Critter to Do?
Sell Toys to Your Small Animal Customers

By Melissa Kauffman

Editorial Director, BowTie Incorporated


After working for almost 20 years in the pet industry, I have developed quite a few pet peeves when it comes to properly taking care of pets. One of the biggest pet peeves I have is letting a critter customer walk into a pet store and right back out with nothing but small animal food.

If you have a ever shared your home with a small animal (guinea pig, ferret, chinchilla, hamster, rat, etc.) as an adult, which I have, then you would know that small animals need more to thrive than a cage and a food bowl.

This is good news to pet store retailers. Why? Because there are lots of small animal toys and activity products to sell to these small pet owners. However, there is a difference between the products existing and your customers knowing they exist. Many small animal owners would probably be surprised to know that critter toys and activity products exist. A guinea pig playing with a toy may be a completely foreign thought to them.

First of all what is a “toy” for a critter? A toy is defined as “something for children to play with.” Play is defined as “To occupy oneself in recreation, amusement or sport.” Now, we don’t know how much amusement our critter pets get from toys, but we do know that keeping your 

etc., pet physically and mentally occupied keeps it healthier, helps it to live longer and increases the interest its owner has in it, therefore strengthening the pet and pet-owner bond.

Here are 3 tips to help sell small animal toys and activity products to your customers:

  1. Cage Setup in Store: Set up a cage in your store for your critters and include toys and activity products. It is amazing how many retail stores set up a cage and don’t include any toys or activity products. We have a very visual society. Show customers how to do it the right way. 
  2. Shopping list: Create a shopping list for each of the small animals and give it to customers browsing in the small animal section. Include all the products you carry for that small animal and a line or two about how the products benefit the critter.
  3. Contests: Put on contests in the store for the critters and their owners, such as hamster races, a rat trick contest, a rabbit obstacle challenge, etc. The signage for the contest and the contest itself helps to educate the customer about critter activities. The contest gets customers into your store and the engagement aspects of the contest helps to make customers loyal.

Small animal owners are passionate about their pets. Often it is the first pet a person owns, and if it is a successful relationship, then you have a pet owner for life, which equals a customer for life.

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What’s A Critter to Do?
Sell Toys to Your Small Animal Customers

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