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January 5, 2018

Before meeting the Wizard, Dorothy and her companions broke out into a happy song while getting primped and pampered during the “Merry Old Land of Oz” number in the classic 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Provide a healthy variety of avian grooming services and products in your store and customers are likely to be singing your praises, too, because bird owners everywhere love a tidy feathered friend. All the more reason to stock an assortment of baths, tremors,
cuttlebones, sprays and conditioners.

“It’s important to offer a wide selection of products that aid in beak and nail trimming, like cuttlebone, perches made of ground seashells and hardwood, toys that encourage grooming, and bird baths,” said Caterina Novotny, director of sales and marketing for Prevue Pet Products, founded 148 years ago. “It’s also crucial to offer these products in a variety of sizes to cater to different bird species. In the wild, birds groom their beaks and nails on a variety of surfaces and natural elements that fit the size and needs of the bird.”

Sonia Wertz, inside sales manager for Napa, California-based Lixit Corporation—which manufactures the Quick Lock Bird Bath and misting
spray bottles—agrees.

“Birds come in many sizes and types, so you want to supply a complete range for your customers to encourage repeat business,” Wertz said. “For example, large birds require a larger bird bath than is usually supplied. Thankfully, there are now extra-large bird baths available.”

Novotny says form is as important as function today with many of these products.

“Design is valued, as we’ve seen an increasing interest in pet owners incorporating pet products into the decor of their homes,” said Novotny,
noting that Prevue recently rolled out a new eggshell blue ceramic bird bath that can handsomely hang in or rest on the floor of the cage. “As a result, simple bird bath designs with a modern color palette are selling better for us than more ornate designs.”

Prudent Pruning
Preventing overgrowth of beaks and nails is essential for a bird’s optimal health. Hence, it’s recommended to carry an assortment of SKUs designed to manage these issues, including mineral blocks, cuttlebones, pedicure perches, trimmers and grinders.

“There are many innovative trimming tools on the marketplace today that allow you to more easily file a bird’s nails rather than struggling to
clip them,” said Novotny, referring to products like cordless rotary nail and beak trimming tools, including the Dremel 7300-PT.

Consumers are increasingly becoming more interested in all-natural products, too.

“Consider stocking products that encourage birds to groom themselves such as toys and accessories made from materials found in nature, like seashells, cuttlebone, hardwoods and other elements,” Novotny said.

Penn-Plax has capitalized on this natural ingredient trend, as demonstrated by the success of its E2 Natural Cuttlebone, enriched with oyster shells, Omega 3, honey and vitamin B1, and available in mango and banana flavors.

Polly Want a Pedicure
Gerry Brostek, COO of Hauppauge, New York-headquartered Penn-Plax, Inc., a third-generation family owned business, says oering bird grooming services in your store is a great strategy for building strong repeat business.

“It’s actually the best way for an independent store to dierentiate itself from big-box and e-commerce retailers,” Brostek suggested.

Gary Johnson can vouch for this approach. He’s been providing a bird trimming and clipping combo since he opened his store, Gary’s Pet Jungle in Milwaukee, 23 years ago. The charge is only $5 for finches, parakeets, canaries and cockatiels; $6 for parrots and conures; and $7 for macaws and cockatoos. Trimming down an overgrown beak is thrown in gratis.

“It only takes a few quick minutes to do the trimming and clipping, so we keep it priced low. That builds a lot of repeat customers who can come in and shop for products while we’re busy grooming their bird,” Johnson said. “It serves as a basket builder.”

Retailers are no substitutes for the vet, of course. Yet, another benefit of offering clipping and trimming in-house is the ability to spot health conditions while handling the animal, said Melanie Allen, avian product specialist with the Hagen Group, the Mansfield, Massachusetts-based parent company of the HARI brand. The company is known for its Rustic Treasures line of handcrafted preening and beak grooming toys for parrots, including the Buri Wrap wrought from natural abaca and palm leaves.

“A bird groomer is often the liaison between the owner and an expensive trip to the avian vet. If you notice problems while grooming the bird, you can recommend optimal product choices in your store that can help,” Allen said. “For instance, you may notice that the bird has the beginnings of bumblefoot, which can trigger your recommendation for a rope perch or vitamin supplement.

Signs of feather damage, meanwhile, can prompt you to suggest spray bottles, feather conditioning sprays or foraging toys. Ultimately, bird grooming in-store is an excellent strategy to increase overall bird products sales.”

Groovy Grooming
Even if clipping and trimming is not on your menu, it’s wise to shine a spotlight on your packaged grooming goods via smart merchandising techniques.

“Try to showcase special products associated with DIY grooming, such as toenail clippers, digital scales for checking the bird’s weight and self-grooming perches. Situate these products near your grooming station for easy recommendation and instruction to the customer,” Allen said.

Educating your clients is also a priority for this subcategory.

“Inform your customers on how to groom their birds at home, Novotny suggested. “Employ signage and your staff to let bird parents know which different grooming products to use.”

That means ensuring that the hired help is up to speed on grooming knowledge.

“Make sure your staff is trained and ready to answer any shopper’s questions about bird grooming,” Johnson said.

Additionally, try to differentiate your grooming section from other bird supplies.

“Make it easy for your customers to locate these products by grouping them together. Make it stand out with a simple sign that says ‘grooming supplies,’” Wertz said.

Novotny advises placing grooming SKUs adjacent to bird accessories but separate from bird toys, where sprays, trimmers, mineral blocks and the like can get lost in the shuffle.

“Also, try to price these items at impulse buy price points to encourage customers to add them to their cart at the same time they’re buying bird food and other staples,” Brostek said.

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