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4:06 AM   October 20, 2014
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The State of the Bird Segment: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Part 2



My June 14th blog dealt with the challenges and issues that the once-thriving pet bird segment is now facing. While the facts are clear that pet birds do not enjoy the popularity they did in the ‘90s, there are still bird businesses out there doing just fine—and some that are even growing. So what are those businesses doing to keep their heads above water and take advantage of the reduced competition? More importantly, how can we responsibly revive the declining interest in birds as pets?

Growing Your Bird Business
To answer these questions, I spoke with a few of the segments foremost experts. I asked them two questions: Where do the growth opportunities lie in the bird segment? and What would you recommend retailers do to grow their bird businesses?
Their answers are informative and compelling.

Omar Gonzales, owner of Omar’s Exotic Birds (two Southern California locations)
"I’m happy to say that Omar’s Exotic Birds is still growing after 26 years in business. For the last few years, we’ve been developing our franchising company and this year we will be selling our first two franchises, with the goal being a nationwide chain of stores that will increase much needed knowledge and exposure to the public about wonderful birds. I feel that this is the perfect time to expand.
To grow their bird business, retailers should focus on having products that are not carried at every big-box store around them. They should try making up their own feed line; have some manufacturers private label for them. But most of all have a clean store with great service and quality products.”

Melanie Allen, bird product specialist for Rolf C. Hagen Inc.
"Retailers who do well are the ones who provide constant and exceptional educational opportunities for the companion bird owner. Parrot owners that are committed— and there are plenty—want education on providing the very best care for the companions. If the retailer wants these folks in the store, they really need to show their local community they are also a part of the educational experience and that they offer true and sincere service as a pet professional. Often, a super sale conveniently coincides with this—and that’s good for all.
"A big thing retailers can do is educate and train their livestock. There are so many mistakes made in the nursery in pet stores. The baby parrot is cute and totally adorable—but the retailer fails to train or educate the baby parrots in simple lessons that a baby needs to learn in order to be a good companion. I’m not talking trick training, but in weaning, preening, when to play and when to rest.”
 
My next blog will offer suggestions from Dr. Greg Burkett and Mark Hagen, and I will chime in with my thoughts after spending 24 years making my living in the bird segment.



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