Southeast Michigan’s local MetroMode media outlet reported on Bingo Pet Salon an upscale pet business opening in Royal Oak, one of the hippest inner ring Detroit suburbs. Bingo Pet Salon offers a contemporary look and feel and in addition to dog and cat grooming services, offers pet sitting and locally made specialty pet products, including personalized collars. Located near the heart of the walkable downtown Royal Oak shopping district, the salon offers pet owners the opportunity to drop off their pets for grooming, take their time shopping and dining and then pick up their pet on the way home. The business offers a free photo share for pet-sitting clients who become fans of the salon on Facebook.
This savvy business is taking advantage of a great location to position the typical time required to groom a pet as a benefit to their busy owners. Their pet sitting services include free email or text updates to out-of-town owners, with an upgrade available to include photo messaging about the pet. The merchandise offered aligns with the trend to “buy local” and offers unique items which are in keeping with the boutique nature of human clothing and accessories sold in the Royal Oak shopping area. The hours of operation are targeted to working pet owners, open every day except Monday until at least 6 PM and until 7PM on Friday and Saturday.
I’ll admit being a sucker for marketing featuring photos of Bull Terriers! I found Fetching Tags through their social media outreach on Twitter. The company sells premium custom dog tags, made of brushed aluminum. While lacking a bit in the amount of information they contain compared to other, more practical tags like those from Boomerang Pet Tags , Fetching tags offers tags of a whimsical, decorative nature that can be personalized with a pet’s name and owner’s phone number. A premium product that allows dog owners to show their pet’s personality while also providing a practical reason to justify the purchase.
An alert on the Eurodogtraining blog led me to news of a new product announcement from Mattel: Puppy Tweets, a device that allows your dog to send tweets via a collar tag. The tag responds to noise and motion and sends one of several tweets in response to your dog’s activity (or lack thereof.) Details on how the device works were a little sparse, apparently the collar device sends data on sound and motion to a USB sensor mounted on your computer, and you leave your dog’s Twitter account signed in while you’re out. I find it similar in concept to the sensor-based TweetingBar account which reports on the beer keg’s status in the New York office of digital agency 360i.
Puppy Tweets allows your dog will join a number of other tweeting canines, most of whom have more than a few canned responses to share. The only practical use I can see is to check on a dog with barking issues when left alone. I don’t as a rule follow dog accounts that only tweet items of interest to dogs and I don’t plan on signing up any of my canines when this product launches in the fall. For $29.95 it might be an amusing novelty to some, but for I can’t see it catching on with anyone who is serious about either dogs or Twitter.
The New York Times featured an article about a trend toward more dog friendly hotels; which also notes that some of these are not really so friendly toward dogs over a certain size limit. This is similar to JetBlue which hypes its JetPaws program – limited to dogs that fit under the cabin seat, the regulations for which top out at 15 pounds. The article talks about well known New York City hotels and their pet policies and also mentions several pet travel websites, PetsWelcome, PetFriendlyTravel, and DogFriendly.
Although it seems more upscale chains are starting to accept dogs, dog fees are also increasingly common, even at budget hotels like Red Roof Inn and Motel 6 which have been mostly dog-friendly for years.
My personal concern not only includes weight limits, but also numerical limits and per-pet fees which are not mentioned in the article. As someone who owns and sometimes travels with multiple dogs, I’d like more friendliness toward the multi-dog traveller.
NPR’s Fresh Air this week featured an interview with Michael Schaffer, author of One Nation Under Dog, a book about consumer dog culture seen through the eyes of a journalist and first time dog owner. At this point I’ve listened to the interview and just started reading the book, but it chronicles the decision of Michael and his wife to get a dog, why they chose to rescue a dog and their selection process. As life with their dog Murphy progresses, they become more and more aware of the vast array of products and services available to dog owners. Michael examines their choices, and explores the expanding world of pet products and marketing throughout the book, including a visit to the American Pet Products Association convention. I expect I’ll find more Dog Marketing fodder as I get into the book – stay tuned.
As promised, I’m returning to my Detroit Kennel Club vendor interviews with a profile of Smucci custom pet beds. The owner/artist Debi Kahn was doing interior decorating when she got the idea for making beautiful furniture that doubled as pet furniture. She blogs about her DKC experience and includes some great photos from the event. Some of the inspiration came from her own pets; one of her cats likes to nap in the bowl shaped washbasins in her home, so she created wooden bowl beds for cats. Debi used some of her own photographs to create the fabric designs used in most of the beds; the photos are transferred to fabrics using a very high quality printing process that retains that photographic quality feel. The wooden bases for the beds have an artistic flair as well. Most have a high fashion modern art look, but one resembles a manger and the accompanying pillow is printed with a design based on a photograph of a slice of straw bale. Most of the beds unfortunately would probably not withstand the presence of a young Bull Terrier, but I’m sure many smaller and older pets would enjoy these artful comforts. Wonderful to see another person making pet furniture that fits in to a stylish decor.
At last weekend’s Detroit Kennel Club show, I took some time Sunday morning to do another vendor review. Even though it appeared they sold less vendor space this year than last, I knew there was no way I’d get through the whole gamut, so I confined myself to one of the short sides of the hall. My interviews included Gretchen’s Creations, with interesting personalized plaster bas-relief artwork (including the option to incorporate cremains in the pieces), Sunbear’s Just Bones, who buys all their food ingredients at Kroger (not China), Smucci’s which makes astounding functional pet bed decor, and Lisa Welch Designs, a jewelry maker with lovely dog-themed designs. More to come!
I think the website is Main Street Dog (stronger brand identity cues would be helpful!) that reported on a beautiful new line of furniture grade dog crates by DenHaus. The only one that looks large enough for a Bull Terrier is the TownHaus which is a rather traditional styled wood piece in a rectangular shape. At over $400 it’s a lot more than a VariKennel, but it looks very nice and comes in a variety of colors. I really prefer the sleek look of the oval ZenHaus and round BowHaus but given the number of dogs and crates I already have I don’t think any of the Hauses are in my future soon! They’ve included some social media links (digg, facebook, etc.) on each product page, there’s a place for partners to sign in, but none are mentioned so I don’t know if they are available through retailers at present. This might be a good item for dog show vending at large shows – where they can reach people with passion for dogs and money to spend on them. Lovely idea – I have a couple of friends that have put their wood or metal working talents to use making some really cool dog crates so it’s good to see someone make a commercial product from that idea.
I decided to make use of the time I had free waiting for group competition at the Oakland County Kennel Club show and talk to some of the dog show vendors about their businesses. My interviews included Gotcha Framed, with artsy magnetic frames, show circuit staple Whitman Sharpening, Glass Garden Engraving with hand painted glassware, Always Special and Personal with scented wax dipped stuffed toys, Diane’s Dream Pet Products, Cedar Creek pet beds, and Pet Fabulous, with high end leather leads and collars. I’ll break the individual interviews out in separate posts, but some general observations. Only one of the people I talked to had ever shown dogs; three had exhibited at craft or art shows first, and heard about the dog show opportunity from other craftspeople. Others started their business targeting other customer niches and discovered better dog marketing opportunities; two actually started selling pet products. A quick note re: their web sites – the only one with tracking (Sitemeter) was also the only one claiming to get much businesss online – cause or effect? I was also surprised how much people had to share, I thought I could easily get around to all the vendors during my 3 hours of down time, but I wasn’t able to even talk to half of them. I will admit I might have squeezed a couple more in who were so busy that I didn’t feel comfortable interrupting. The booth selling fleece dog coats on this blustery day was going great guns, not surprising since 4 inches of snow fell during the day and the temperature at my ring time was 9 degrees, but felt like -10!
PawLux just started following me on Twitter. The Paw Luxury website is doing a lot of things right; their core business proposition focuses on sustainable, high end dog accessories and treats. Not a large selection, but focused on that proposition, which encompasses the hottest trends in pet marketing today. They’re announcing specials on Twitter, and rewarding visitors for retweeting and blogging about their site; pretty darn Web 2.0 savvy. They don’t really explain how it’s sustainable (and I couldn’t find the dimensions, either) but the Bella Bed is adorable!