Parrots are precious, and budgies are beautiful, but finches and canaries hold a special place in the hearts and homes of many bird lovers. That’s because that special place conveniently takes up less physical space, and the sounds these compact pets sing are soothing.
Plus, their relatively low price point and low maintenance required make these the perfect pets for kids, seniors, renters, singles and first-time owners. All the more reason why, despite taking up little real estate, these animals and their supplies deserve ample shelf and floor space in your operation.
“Finches and canaries are excellent first pets for young children, and they are the best starter birds for new bird parents because they’re easy to care for and don’t require as much attention as larger birds,” said Jason Savitt, president of Prevue Pet Products in Chicago.
Joel Thomas, design and marketing assistant with F.M. Brown’s and Sons, makers of Tropical Carnival Melody Mix Small Bird Treats, says this latter point is crucial.
“They don’t need to be handled, and they don’t need time out of their cages like other larger birds,” Thomas said.
“They’re great for apartment dwellers, as they require less space than larger pets,” said Marissa Kactioglu, project manager for Penn-Plax, the Hauppauge, New York-located maker of the E2 line of cuttlebones preferred by canary and finch owners.
The soothing melodies of these songbirds—sung by the males—combined with their striking colors can create impulse sales and satisfy patrons, too.
“If you have multiple males in your store, they will sing to each other and add a calming ambience to your environment,” Savitt said. “Your customers will hear the sound of happy pets, and this breathes life and enjoyment into the shopping experience.”
Anbolyn Zamora, manager of Andy’s Pet Shop in San Jose, can vouch for this effect. Andy’s, which functions as a pet rescue facility as well as a pet retailer, carries a variety of finches and canaries available for adoption, and their pleasant singing and chirping appeal to many store visitors.
“We position the birds near the front of the store so people can see and interact with them right as they walk in,” Zamora said.
Seeds for Thought
Zamora believes it’s essential to stock a variety of daily diets for these birds. Her biggest sellers are Volkman’s Avian Science Super and Lafeber’s Premium Daily Diet (pellets for canaries and granules for finches).
“My staff and I work hard to educate customers about the need for more than seeds in a songbird’s diet and why nutritionally balanced pelleted diets are recommended,” Zamora said.
Brands that aim for more complete nutrition include Sunseed Vita Prima Sunscription Canary & Finch Formula; ZuPreem Natural; Goldenfeast’s Australian Blend; 8in1’s eCOTRITION Essential Blend Canary and Finch Diet; and Kaytee’s Fiesta Canary and Finch Food.
“It’s also important to offer a wide array of toys designed for smaller birds. These pets don’t normally leave their cage, so they need things inside to keep them occupied,” said Zamora, who carries an assortment of toys made by Super Bird Creations.
“Canaries and finches are peckers, not destroyers, so toys and accessories made from grasses, woods, ground seashells, coconut shells and cuttlebone are all popular,” Savitt said. His company continues to expand its Naturals line of toys featuring the aforementioned ingredients.
A Large Cage is All the Rage
When it comes to enclosures, the bigger the better—despite the fact that finches and canaries are likely the smallest feathered companions found in a pet store.
“More people are buying larger, oversized homes to give their birds more space. Large flight cages and aviaries to house multiple songbirds are definitely a trend with both new and seasoned bird owners,” said Savitt, adding that Prevue recently rolled out a new Charming Aviary line of spacious cages.
One of the top sellers in this category is MidWest Homes for Pets’ Avian Adventures line, including its Nina cage, available in dometop or playtop styles.
“The Nina is ideal for finches and canaries. It features interlocking panels for quick and easy no-tools assembly, a locking bird-proof door latch, an interchangeable slide-out pan and floor grate, and lots of accessories,” said Tara Whitehead, director of marketing and communications for MidWest Homes for Pets, founded in 1921 and headquartered in Muncie, Indiana.
A newer cage of note is A&E’s AE29635 House Top Bird Cage for small birds, which features a white aviary with a green roof and green detachable stand, slide-out plastic tray and bottom grill, top and bottom storage shelves, and more.
Converting Browsers to Buyers
“Products should be placed within and near finch and canary cages so that customers walking past can quickly and easily be persuaded to purchase,” Kactioglu suggested.
Zamora recommends offering canary and finch starter kits with all the necessaries bundled together to spur sales.
“Our starter kit includes a large, quality cage; three-month supply of daily diet; several toys; nesting material; dowels and perches; treats; egg food; a birdbath; and feeder and waterer for $300—a good bargain,” Zamora said.
Thomas says many first-time bird owners lack the proper know-how for their chosen species. This is where retailers need to come to the rescue.
“Provide educational materials to ensure that customers know exactly how to care for their new birds. And train your staff to be able to answer questions and recommend the right products as well,” Thomas said.
“Avoid having a cluttered, disorganized store with no ambience,” Savitt concluded. “Set the tone for what kind of shop you’re running the second a customer walks through the door by having your finch and canary goods nicely arranged and merchandised.”