Drive Pet Sales By Welcoming Pets In Store  

Stop by Chalet Nursery in Wilmette, Ill., and you’ll see a small army of pooches leading their owners to their favorite treats.

Challenge: Many garden centers struggle to make money with their pet departments.

Solution: Here are three ideas general manager Tony Fulmer says leads to Chalet’s success with pet products.

1. Target your entire customer base. “The wonderful thing about [pets] is everyone, no matter what age, what their household circumstances (apartment, condo, etc.) is a potential pet owner,” Fulmer says. Another strength is regular visits, since food, litter and other supplies are purchased weekly. “It is the most stable, most even income flow from month-to-month of any aspect of our rather diverse business. It represents a little over 11 percent of our total annual retail sales,” he says.

2. Require a leash. “With one exception in 24 years, everyone is very respectful of that,” Fulmer says. “I have never had a single complaint about us allowing dogs/pets in the store.”

3. Have paper towels readily on hand. “Accidents do happen – dogs get excited,” Fulmer says.

Fulmer says it only makes sense to allow pets in the store. “To get an accurate fit on a collar, sweaters, etc., it is imperative that they be able to bring their pet in. The other thing is it is fun to get out with your pet and show them off,” he says.

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