Rubie’s Costume Company, Inc. is the world’s largest designer, manufacturer and distributor of Halloween costumes and accessories and in recent years has broken into the pet industry.
Every year Rubie’s has a “sneak peak” before all of the January costume shows.
According to Erin Breig, of Rubies, Rubie’s Pet Shop is now treated more like a sister company, because it is now being looked at as its own category.
“An example would be that I am meeting with Spirit Halloween, who is only open September and October and then they will close, and they did really well with pets this past year,” Breig said. “They only did five styles with us and now they are looking for something different, they want to see if we can offer them new designs. That’s the idea, what can we do before we are at a trade show.
“I am excited to hear what they hated about the product. I know the sales did well but they are looking for new packaging. This year will be our most solid, organized, clear year in terms of we are a brand now. We have a full product line that is in production and it’s not like last year where we only had a sample and couldn’t let people take them.”
Paul Schiff, the president of Wholesome Pet Supplies started with Rubie’s on a trial basis this past year.
“We thought that the pet costumes, whether they are for Halloween or birthday parties or the actual Christmas costumes, was something that was very underserved in the pet industry,” Schiff said. “We are a distributer that primarily focuses on Colorado, so we thought we would try this out and see what the response was with our retailers and then go from there.”
According to Schiff, it was a very positive experience for them and for Rubie’s, and they both received some great feedback from the retailers.
So what was the key to selling them in the store? Themes.
“What we found is that the stores that did well with them, carried them and did theme displays,” Schiff said. “A traditional pet store typically throws a bunch of costumes onto one of their racks and there is no creativity that goes into it, it is just, here they are. What I have worked with my team on, is to work with these retailers to think about more themes that people could tie in.”
Both Breig and Schiff see the pet costume trend expanding.
“I think the stores that put the investment into it and really do fun creative displays, for example, you can do a Star Wars theme display and pick up a couple of props or something and do various things to help build the theme in the window display or something and you dress up a couple of dog mannequins with it, you could have a Darth Vader or one of the other costumes that did well,” Schiff said. “If you dressed up mannequins and help build that theme it really creates a fun situation. We are still working to explain how much this will increase retailers’ sales if they go this path. The ones that have tried it, they already know it.”