Crafting a Cage Selection
When building a selection of bird cages, retailers should pay close attention to important features such as size, functionality and price, as well as aesthetics.
There are a number features that should be considered when deciding what bird cages to stock in a pet store, including style, functionality, design, size and price. Of course, no pet store can carry all of the cages that are offered by manufacturers today, as space is almost always at a premium. With this in mind, retailers must take into account where the store is located and the type of clientele that come in to their shops, as well as the unique needs of the birds most commonly owned by that clientele.
Size is one of the most important features of a bird cage, and the newest trend is toward larger homes for pet birds. This is great news for our feathered friends, as bigger truly is better when it comes to bird cages. A bird should be able to at the least flap it’s wings freely in its cage, except maybe with the largest parrot species—macaws—which can have a wingspan of more than four feet, so they must be given a playpen to be able to exercise their wings properly. It is even better if the bird can actually fly in the cage, and that is why indoor cages called flight cages are made for birds in the finch group, as well as for smaller parrot species.
However, with many manufacturers still focusing on small, starter cages, Brad Forgette, executive vice president of Marchioro USA, feels that caged bird enthusiasts’ need for large and friendly cages is too often ignored. Therefore, the Lyndhurst, N.J.-based cage manufacturer has designed the Marchioro USA C System cages, which are completely collapsible, a great merchandising feature for retailers. “Large cages are a challenge for retailers to merchandise,” says Forgette, noting that, unlike other products on the market, C-system cages “store easily on retail shelves.”
Enclosures that are constructed of two cages welded together are becoming more popular in the pet industry. Some of these cages can be considered flight cages, as they make one long, large cage and have a bar spacing and strength that can be used with small birds. These cages can also provide bird owners with additional functionality. For example, A & E Cage Company makes “double cages” that include a removable separator grate that allows bird owners to use it as one large cage or two smaller ones. Obviously, this is great for owners with more than one pet bird.
Functionality and design are the next factors to consider when selling cages. Almost all bird cage manufacturers offer products that have a pull out tray at the bottom, as well as a grate to make cleaning easier. More and more cages also now come with seed catches or guards in different designs, including ones that will attach to the bottom and can be removed for cleaning. There are also cages that feature an outwardly flared bottom that captures more discarded food items inside the cage. In addition, some bird cages have more solid parts, versus wire bars, on the sides to help keep the area outside of the cage cleaner.
Cages that offer the added feature of a play-top design—where either the cage opens up at the top and a perch can be placed or an actual playpen is built into the top of the cage—are also becoming more prevalent in the pet industry. These cages save a lot of space both in the store and in the home, and since playpens are recommended for most species of parrots, these cages are a good value for bird owners.
Paul Tang, vice president of sales for cage manufacturer Prevue Pet Products, Inc., notes that functionality is key in his company’s cages. Virtually all of Chicago-based Prevue Pet Products’ large parrot cages not only include a cage seed guard, and most of the company’s flat-top models have a built-in playpen at the top. Stands with built-in wheels that make it easy to move a cage around at the store and at home are also included in most of Prevue’s large parrot cages, according to Tang.
The pricing of a bird cage is an important factor to take into account and will depend on quality, style and where the cage was made. Quality is extremely important in larger bird cages because many of the medium- and larger-size parrots can live for 20 or more years and they have very strong beaks. Manufacturers often have two lines of cages available in the smaller sizes, with one being more of an “economy” line that is great to offer in locations where the local economy is still suffering a bit.
Many customers are now demanding products made in the USA, and that can be difficult with cages. However, Tang asserts that, “Prevue is the only remaining [major] manufacturer of bird cages in the United States. With the renewed pride and desire for products made in the USA, Prevue continues to manufacturer domestically in Chicago, as well as import from overseas.”
Despite the perception that foreign-made products are usually cheaper, Prevue’s prices are right on par with cages of the same quality that come from other countries, including China.
For Marchioro USA’s part, the company manufacturers all of it’s products in Italy, at the company’s own facilities, so retailers can be sure that they are not only high-quality products, but also reasonably priced according to Forgette.
Fun factors to take into account when deciding what bird cages to stock are the colors and shapes that are available, and manufacturers look to the public to see what the newest trends are in these areas. Prevue, like a number of other companies, has many colors to choose from, depending on the size and style of the cage. The company recently added three additional color options to its offerings, including garnet red, coco brown and jade green.
White, silver and black are still the most popular colors with bird owners, and they are almost always available from most cage manufacturers. Some manufacturers offer smaller cages in color combinations—for example, with white or silver bars and a bright red, blue or green plastic bottom. Larger parrot cages are typically all one color and are powder coated to give them a durable finish.
Cage shapes can include the usual square or rectangular, with tops that can be flat, domed or even look like a house roof. Prevue has taken the “house” style even further by creating a smaller bird cage line called Featherstone Heights. These cages are actually designed to look like different styles of houses, including Brownstone, Tudor, Victorian, Cape Cod and even stone cottage models. Each cage features either a chimney or turret, as well as windows, doors and roof structures.
Round cages are also making a comeback, which is reflected in the offerings of a few different manufacturers, including Marchioro USA.
Old-fashioned cages (classic chic) are also becoming more popular in the pet industry. A&E Cage Company, for example, has some “Victorian” models with stylish curved tops. Meanwhile, Prevue offers a cage style that includes scrollwork on the sides and top, giving the cages a very classic look.