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11:06 AM   August 28, 2014
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Bird Marketplace: Industry Voices

By Cheryl Reeves

Expert advice from leading voices in the industry about what retailers can keep in mind when stocking and selling bird food—and educating customers:

“Organic is great, but if pet owners can’t afford it, lots of birds do well on nonorganic diets. Also, think of sunflower seeds as an occasional dessert like ice cream: a special—however, high fat—treat, with relatively low nutritional value that’s fine within reason. Anything in excess is bad.”
Dr. Kathryn Leach, BVSC, veterinarian at Kensington Bird and Animal Hospital, in
Kensington, Conn.

Kathryn Leach, BVSC

“Acquaint yourself with a few good avian vets in the community, and work with them to stock your shelves with the products that are most appropriate for pet birds. If you carry the right products, we will recommend people to your store. And most importantly, if customers have questions about diet that you do not know the answer to, refer them to an avian vet for the correct advice.”
— Lorelei Tibbetts, LVT, nursing director and manager for The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in New York

Lorelei Tibbetts, LVT

“Retailers should be stocking premium brands so they don’t have to compete with big box stores. Pick brands that make your store a destination. Also, people get tired of feeding their birds the same thing all the time. They are continuously looking for variety. Natural [and] organic foods are hot now because that is what pet owners eat at home themselves, and they want their pet to have a high-quality, nutritious diet.”
— Gail Shepard, director of  marketing for ZuPreem in Shawnee Mission, Kan.

Gail Shepard

“Our customers are increasingly seeking out variety that’s organic. I also have a huge bulk section in my store that looks like a human holistic food marketplace. I tell customers that we feed birds the way we should feed ourselves. The three main things that we keep top of mind at Chirp-N-Dales are: 1) Fresh food. 2) Clean store. 3) Only stock enough food for a week.”
— Jim Geesey, owner of Chirp-N-Dales in Phoenix


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