While it’s natural for gourmet housewares stores to assimilate a few out of the box goods into its product selection, it may not always necessarily seem like a fit to add a place for pets into the housewares mix. However, not only do certain pet products have a place amongst housewares — dishes and water bowls, for example — but they also appeal to a gourmet store’s target consumer.
“People who are already home cooks and spend a lot of time planning their meals are exactly the type of people that these items are going to appeal to,” said Ginger Cobl, owner of Decatur, AL-based The Cupboard, who recently brought in a line of pet goods as well as pet treats.
“These are the people that are paying attention to what they are putting in to their mouths. They are reading labels. They are thinking that if they wouldn’t eat something or their kids wouldn’t eat something, their pet shouldn’t either. They are paying attention to what’s in their pet food and where it’s coming from.”
Cobl said that she has seen success by bringing in a cookbook for dog treats and pairing it with the Ann Clark dog bone cookie cutter and the Nordic Ware dog bone pan for gifting. She noted that those have been best-sellers in her pet section, which she named after her own shop dog, Gidget.
Cobl also said that pet products have gone beyond dog treats and cookbooks with the addition of several pet accessories to her product lineup. She said she worked with American Life Brands to create a custom design for leashes and bandanas that are covered in a kitchen utensil pattern, which she displays alongside photos of Gidget and a selection of private labeled treats.
“The thing with having a pet section is that people are always going to spend money on their pets, even when the economy is slow. And, it also helps when random people find their way into my store but don’t cook — I can always point them in the direction of the pet section or to some of the other things I keep on hand,” said Cobl.
And, she noted, that while pet people really do love their pets like family, those who are also foodies seem to add another layer to that love. Cobl said she believes these pet owners are the most likely to splurge on gourmet treats or purchase the better/best selection of pet products.
“Gourmet housewares customers are educated about what’s in their food. They are the same people that are going to spend the extra money on their animals,” she said.
One piece of advice that Cobl suggested to gourmet housewares retailers looking to dabble into the pet sector is to keep a few of a vendor’s stock items on hand.
“We did a custom print and I feel like the category would do better if we added in some stock items for more appeal,” she said.