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Pet care products proliferating.

CHICAGO - Industry buzz has it that it's been a phenomenal growth year for pet products. Pet stores have certainly contributed to the growth, and according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, so have the 56 percent of Americans who are pet owners and more likely than ever before to own more than one pet.

Other information compiled from APPMA suggests that today's pet owners are turning increasing attention toward their pets. The attention comes in the form of increased health and nutrition awareness but also in the form of treats, toys and even luxury accommodations.

Whether increased pet ownership and awareness are responsible for the growth or the convenience and value of a superstore such as a PetSmart or PetStuff, it is good news for manufacturers and retailers. The APPMA further suggests that people are simply more involved with their animals today.

Mark Wahl, general manager of the pet division of Wahl Clipper Corp. says, "If you build it, they will come," which seems to bear out. PetCare, as an example, is a 62-store chain, with an average of 8,000 square feet per store, that has been in business over five years. Ray Guyer, PetCare's president, says: "This industry is still in a growth cycle, in terms of dollars and volume. We have plans for 20 to 30 new stores in 1995." This expansion is true of other chains as well.

Yet as more and more pet superstores enter the market, the question for the future becomes how will these stores differentiate themselves from one another. The prevailing modus operandi has been primarily ugly price wars waged in areas where two chains show up, each flexing their muscles. Guyer cautions manufacturers, however, regarding this practice, "I have a real concern about the credibility of products that suffer a war - the manufacturer has to ask at what point the label goes away, simply unable to sustain the beating."

This is a very real concern and one also voiced by Michael Molony, the vice president and co-owner of P.T. Moran, who characterizes the current state of affairs like this, "What used to be a warm and fuzzy business is becoming more reptilian as two competitors determine to be the low cost leader in a particular market." Both Guyer and Molony believe these issues will be worked out and that services that benefit the customer, make their shopping easier, will provide the real key to the future as major competitors face each other in the market.

Service and services are different and what distinguishes superstores from their Mom and Pop rivals. Contrary to what some of the bigger retailers believe, there still remains a strong niche for the Mom and Pop corner pet store. Deiter Hagen, senior vice president of Rolf C. Hagen Inc., a Montreal-based manufacturer, in business over 40 years, says: "I've never seen a well-managed, well-staffed, well-stocked, clean pet store that offers healthy livestock go out - it won't happen. It's still the small pet store that can offer the personal service and expertise."

So if Mom and Pop offer service, the superstores offer services. Which is why PETSMART, as the leader, and some other leading superstores have adopted very savvy marketing strategies that benefit consumers and local communities. These strategies translate to in-store services, such as full-service rooming, obedience classes, veterinary clinics, low-cost vaccination clinics staffed by local vets.

However, the bulk of the floor-space in these stores is filled with pet supplies. While both independent stores and pet chains - and the booths at the International Housewares Show - are stocked with the traditional items such as pet food, grooming kits and kitty litter, a swarm of more unusual products are being made available to pet loving consumers.

Clay Design offers a line of cat and dog bowls, with inscriptions to fit the quirks of your pets. They also produce a line of "Pet Accessories" all handcrafted of porcelain and stoneware. Retail pricing is between $10 and $15.

Flexi-Mat Corp presents a new washable paw print plush cover to complement its new "Capnapper," an easy to install window perch/cat bed that fits any window sill. The Capnapper's unique hammock design cradles cats in total comfort and safety. The sturdy structural plastic frame is designed for maximum strength and stability and can hold up to 35 pounds.

Gimborn U.S. is featuring several products under their Gourmet Pet Brand including 100% Pure Freeze Dried Beef Liver Treats for Dogs and Sterilized Shin Bones for Dogs available in natural and hickory flavors and in medium and extra large sizes. In addition, Cat Grass will help satisfy a cat's natural craving for grass; it requires a one time watering and takes approximately five days to grow.

Velvet Coat Shampoo is available in several formulas: all purpose, protein, white coat, and dark coat, plus a cream rinse. And a set of designer water bottles for small animals comes in four colorful designs and sizes suitable for hamster, guinea pig and rabbit. Retail prices range from $2.99 to $5.99.

HWE Inc. aims to relieve doggy stress with an electronic grooming massager, the Doggy Vibe. Battery-operated, the Doggy Vibe features a quiet dual-speed motor for a gentle soothing massage. The unit comes with two grooming brush attachments and a booklet entitled "Helping Rover To Relax" Suggested retail price is $29.95.

Keller Design Inc. has added two new pet dishes to their litter boxes and beds. A Fish Dish in aqua and a Bone Shaped Dish in blue to match the colorful personalities of pets. These bowls are made of durable polypropylene with non-skid rubber feet. Retail prices are $2.99 and $4.99.

Lazy Pet Products is showing four new catnip-treated products with cat fitness in mind. All products have four-color hangtags that explain each product's features. The Scratchin' Stuff Action Scratcher post features a spring loaded scratching assembly that offers the added dimension of resistance and movement, with either a plush carpet or natural sisal base.

The Kitty Swat Exerciser features a sturdy carpeted base with a spring action toy will a large colorful pom-pom and a Brass jingle bell for added excitement. Rug Runners are a rolling scratch toy filled with 100 percent catnip. The new Scratchin' Roller is a scratching post with a built-in trackball that jingles as it rolls.

Malibu Pet Products is introducing die Pet Couch with a design that allows it to be disassembled into four compact components for storage and travel. All covers can be removed for washing and 100 percent polyurethane foam is used throughout for insulation and comfort. Covers come in assorted cotton prints.

The Pet Cottage, for cats and small dogs, has the charm of a colorful country cottage and the inside is lined with warm machine washable fur. The Cottage features durable stain resistant fabric and a collapsing design for storage and travel. Malibu has also put together a Pet Comfort Sleeper Display as an alternative to messy shelves. The Pop display box houses five different Pet Comfort Sleepers that feature the same SKU. Each bed is individually packaged with colorful graphics to grab consumer attention.

Metropolitan Vacuum Cleaner Co. Inc. is presenting a line of professional dog dryers, according to director of marketing David Stern. The cylindrical dryers resemble miniature canister vacuum cleaners. The machines use high velocity air, rather than damaging heat, to dry dogs' coats. Price points range from $99 to $450, with $100 to $160 models most popular. Additionally, Metropolitan recently secured the Lassie license for its dryers.

Benjamin & Medwin, purveyor of cookware, cookie jars and other kitchen accessories, has developed a new line of basically black-and-white ceramic pet bowls, featuring Felix the Cat with a fish and Snoopy with bones.

Molor Products is showing a Mini-Food 'N' Fountain with a retail price of $4.99. Ideal for small animals like cats, puppies and rabbits, this item is a combination food and water bowl. Molded of durable, high quality, marbleized, dishwasher-safe plastic, the food dish can be removed for easy cleaning, and the water dispenser can use any 1-liter plastic bottle. It features a unique raised middle platform, where the water bottle is mounted for stability, to keep the water and food apart.

Nylabone is introducing two new Flexibone products that will complement their other dog chew toys. Flexibone Plaque Out Dental Dinosaurs are strong but flexible chews made of polyurethane. Also Flexibone Nylon Dental Dinosaurs made of specially processed nylon to resist the powerful chewing of dogs. The chews are naturally flavored and the assorted shapes include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus. The items will retail under $5.

O.R.E. has new pet-themed placemats and coasters in their Table Art collection. They feature a kitty, puppy, bone and fish. Retail prices are $6 for placemats and $1.50 for coasters; they come in case packs of 12 and 24, respectively.

Pet Goods is showing Fleecy Bed, a 100% polyester product that is non-allergenic, stain resistant, absorbent and completely washable. It comes in three sizes and has a 2-inch plush pile. This bed will keep your pets cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Petmate is adding the Dome Home with accessories, to their Complete line of dog houses; it comes in two sizes, medium and target. They have an upgraded shape and door design for the Porter Deluxe Kennel. The Pet Taxi line is adding gray as a new color, and the ventilation system been redesigned.

Pet Products Inc. is introducing, under their Rawhide Label, French Bread for Dogs in six flavors: beef, bacon, bakers, liver, cheese and chicken. These treats for dogs are made from 100% all natural rawhide.

Reon is introducing The Petjoy, an automatic pet-feeding device. Features include a wireless remote control, a built-in recording device to call pets at feeding time, as many as three user-selectable feeding times per day, automatic open and close of food dish, automatic disposal of remaining food and user-controlled quantity. The suggested retail price is $199.

Sherpa Pet Trading Co. offers the Sherpa Pet Carrier approved for carriage on most airlines. This ventilated soft-sided pet carrier is made with durable padded nylon and mesh, and has reinforced bottom and handles, adjustable shoulder strap that doubles as a leash, roomy zippered pockets for papers, and locking zippers front and top. There are three sizes in a variety of colors with suggested retails of $60 to $80. Other accessories are available.

Sunbeam-Oster is showing its full line of pet trimmers and clippers.

Sweet "P" Corp. offers a new concept in cat waste management with The Dry System. This system utilizes a patented aerification process and can save cleaning time, money, health and the environment. Accessories include a monitoring system to keep track of your cat's health and items to beautify the litter box.

Tarel Seven Design is introducing the Mr. Spats' Scratch'r Cizer and Mr. Spats' Pursuit. The Scratch'r Cizer is designed to keep cats from scratching furniture and draperies. Constructed of durable high-impact plastic and natural sisal, it features a special catnip compartment that attracts and encourages cats to groom their claws naturally. Suggested retail is $7.99. Mr. Spats' Purrsuit is an activity and entertainment center designed to take advantage of the natural curiosity of cats. Owners place toys in a variety of slots, and the pet will respond by retrieving them from inside the game. It also includes a cat astrology chart and will retail for $5.99.

Wahl Clipper Corp. offers new products in the dog grooming, horse grooming and large animal categories. The company has six grooming kits for dogs. The Kennel Pro Direct Drive Rotary Motor Grooming Kit features Wahl's most powerful clipper, the Kennel Pro, and includes a Satin Chrome Blade set, a 16-foot power cord, three attachment combs, blade guard and heavy-duty cleaning brush, cleaning oil, instructions. It comes with a deluxe storage case. The suggested retail price is $115.

The Professional Quality Deluxe Pet Grooming Kit with Video that includes a thumb-adjustable multi-cut clipper with a high-powered electromagnetic motor, three stainless steel attachment combs, scissors, flat top comb, sticker and cleaning brush, and more. The Pro Quality Grooming Kit and Video includes a multi-cut, adjustable blade, magnetic motor clipper, four combs, scissors, blade guard and more. Their suggested retails are $48 and $55, respectively. New also is a Rotary Motor Gear Driven Pet Grooming Kit with Video that features extra power for heavy-coated pets and various accessories with a suggested retail $83.

The Deluxe Battery Operated Pet Trimmer Kit and a Basic Battery Operated Pet Trimmer Kit retail for $30 and $19.99 respectively. The Series 8900 Professional Cordless Rechargeable Animal Trimmer features an extra-wide blade set, heavy duty construction and 25% longer run time. The kit includes charging stand, dealing brush, off and instructions. The suggested retail is $52.

The Show Cut Professional Large Animal Grooming Kit features a direct drive, rotary motor, Stable Pro clipper and includes three adjustable Satin Chrome blade sets and three stainless steel attachment combs and more. The suggested retail is $145.

Vesture Corp. is introducing a LavaPet Cushion that can be microwaved for warmth in winter and refrigerated in summer to keep your pets cool. The lava heat element, which maintains heat up to, 8 hour, removes easily from a zippered pouch which is soft, durable, reversible and washable. The cushions come in two sizes and carry a one-year-warranty.
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Author:Crisp, Dorothy Jane
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Jan 16, 1995
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