Natural Foods Merchandiser
Organically Yours: Spotlight on Pet Section

Organically Yours: Spotlight on Pet Section

You don't have to love pets to love the profit they can bring to your store through supplies and food, says Patty Guckeen, owner of Organically Yours in Lafayette, La.

You don’t have to love pets to love the profit they can bring to your store through supplies and food, says Patty Guckeen, owner of Organically Yours in Lafayette, La.

“Ironically, I’m highly allergic to dogs and cats,” Guckeen says. “I love animals but can’t be near them, unfortunately. But I can sell [their] food. That works out pretty well.”

Guckeen’s store is cashing in on the growing organic and natural pet market through a prominently displayed pet section, bringing the store’s average receipt up and smiles to customers’ faces.

Not one for subtlety
When customers enter Organically Yours, the first thing they often see is a big red wall at the back of the store marking the pet section. It’s quite a draw, Guckeen says.

“I’ve had people complain about a personal health issue and walk by the pet section and say ‘oh my goodness, I must get something for my dog,’ and I have to remind them to get their own stuff,” she says. The pet section is “doing what it’s meant to do. We are giving customers the opportunity to buy for their entire family.”

The store’s locale also helps move pet products. About 58,000 cars travel in front of the store daily, and the 16,000 nearby homes boast the highest income per capita in an eight-mile radius.

Bulk bonuses
Because of competition from PetSmart and Walmart, Organically Yours isn’t bringing people in because of its pet section; instead the pet section is bringing up the store’s bottom line.

“I decided to make the pet section a little larger to bring in more [pet owners],” Guckeen says. “My vitamin customers are picking up dog products. It helps with sales because it’s a bonus. [My customers] will pick up Castor & Pollux food or a toy for their pets as an adjunct.”

When that something extra is a 15- to 25-pound bag of dog food, sales ring up fast. Most of Organically Yours’ pet food and supply sales are of big bags of food, bought two or three at a time, increasing the average ticket by $90 to $100.

“One customer in particular has several dogs, and shelters animals,” Guckeen says. “Another customer, who buys six to eight cases of canned wet food, breeds dogs and feeds those animals only organic. So not only does he buy organic dog food, he also buys free-range beef and chicken to prepare meals for those animals.”

Kid, pet and retail friendly
Guckeen knows it’s not the pets the store is trying to win over; it’s the owners. Organically Yours pulls them to the back of the store with a view of the pet section from the café and keeps them there with samples and well-trained employees.
“The kids love it because I have all the dog treats and toys on the lower shelf,” she says. “The pets and children always get free products from my store.”

Not only do kids and pets score goodies, but so do employees—a trick Guckeen says other retailers should use. By giving employees samples of new pet products to give to their animals, they “have some experience to share with the customers that is absolutely helpful.”

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