Right Tools for the Job

Offering pet owners the grooming tools they need, along with some valuable guidance, can help a retailer boost sales in the short run and gain loyal customers in the long run.


As pet owners increasingly tackle the business of grooming in their own homes, brushes, combs and other important grooming products, have become mainstays of a pet retailer’s assortment.

However, storeowners must keep in mind that there are two vital facets to keeping this segment of sales flowing. One is making sure that all staff is knowledgeable enough to assist customers in purchasing the right tools for their dog, its individual coat, lifestyle and the time of year. The other is having appealing merchandising and knowing what will sell.

Fortunately, most manufacturers will be happy both to help merchandise the section and educate staff on how to sell their products. “Assisting the consumer in easily choosing the best products for their pet is key,” says Diane Thomas, marketing manager for Coastal Pet Products, Inc.

Coastal provides point-of-purchase signage designed to make product selection easy. The company also posts demonstration videos on its website, and it prints QR codes on each package—all to provide information on the proper use of each tool. Also on Coastal’s website are breed-specific grooming guides—search for a specific breed and up pops every tool appropriate for that coat. The company’s Safari line is a full line of products for both dogs and cats, with a tool for every pet.

Wahl Clipper Corporation’s brightly colored line of home pet-grooming tools has the intended coat type listed on its website. Pets.wahl.com also has a search function that not only searches for tools by breed, but also by coat type and length, in case a pet owner has a mixed breed dog. In addition to slickers, pin brushes, combs and dematting tools, Wahl has a handy 2-in-1 Rake/Blade that has a rake for detangling on one side and a deshedding tool for removing dead undercoat on the other.

Retailers should aim to carry comprehensive selection of tools that meet the varied needs of different dogs. “There isn’t always just one product that suits a dog,” says Andis representative Elizabeth Yong. “I use different tools on my two long-haired dogs because they have different textures, and their coats change seasonally.”

Store sales representatives should also keep in mind that customers may not always be aware of the various options available, but a little nudge in the right direction can lead a customer to a particularly useful new tool.

 “Trying new things is often a good idea,” Yong adds. “I had no idea that a deshedding tool like Andis’ 65760 would work on my longer haired dogs. The deshedding tool reduces shedding by 90 percent, has curved blades that won’t scratch skin and minimizes pulling.”

Andis is also about to release a new, ergonomically designed line of tools that includes clear guidelines on the packaging to help the consumer decide which product they need.

Still, it is important for retailers to keep tried-and-true products on hand, as well. Resco has been making its Professional Series of combs since the 1940s. The brass shank holds teeth that are press-fitted, so the pins do not fall out, and they are chrome plated. Resco’s ergonomic combs are made the same way, but with an anodized aluminum handle for easy gripping. The #80 series can be found by show rings all over the country. Resco makes a full line of brushes and combs at a price point to suit every budget.

Another company with a line of quality products is Bass Brushes. Its brushes are made of 100-percent bamboo wood, making them strong, stylish and ecologically friendly. While the brushes themselves have a lot to offer, Ron Weinstein, owner of the Bass Brush Company, notes that thoughtful merchandising can help encourage sales. “Hang all the brushes you sell together, as the customer will go to that section, but make sure to have one of each out where they can be touched, felt and handled,” he says. “If the handle feels comfortable they are likely to buy it.”

The company’s website also offers two bamboo pet displays intended for counter tops or shelf tops that showcase products while allowing them to be handled.

According to Torrey Haywood, merchandising manager at PetEdge, the key to putting together a grooming product assortment is knowing a store’s customer demographics. It is crucial to know who the customer is and what kinds of dogs they own, as that will affect the retailer’s choices.

Not sure? “Take some proven best sellers and stock a four-foot section. In 30 days, you will have a handle on what your customers are going to buy,” says Haywood, who says PetEdge’s best-selling items for retailers include nail trimmers, slicker brushes and rubber brushes.

Thomas says Coastal Pet Products’ best sellers are nail trimmers, deshedding tools such as the Safari shedding blade or the Shed Magic, the Self Cleaning Slicker, Pin Brush and Rubber Curry.

No matter what a store sells, it is important to make sure it is presented as appealingly as possible. ConairPet has its packaging color-coded in yellow for dogs, blue for cats, and even has deshedding kits pre-packaged for some coat types. Slickers, pin brushes, undercoat rakes, combs, shedding tools, rubber curry, and even a boar bristle brush are among ConairPet’s offerings, and various displays and spinner racks are available at the company’s website.

With a good selection of popular tools, thoughtful merchandising and strong product knowledge, sales of combs and brushes should remain a solid part of a retailer’s cash flow.

Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.

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