The Right Real Estate
Cage manufacturers are offering today's pet bird owners a wide range of choices when it comes to housing their feathered friends.
Modern or contemporary, classic or retro, the design of a person’s home, as well as their personal tastes, will determine what type of bird cage a pet owner will buy. Space availability and price will also play a role, of course, in what a bird owner chooses. Fortunately, many cage manufacturers are styling their cages to follow the latest trends, and they are providing pet owners with a wide range of options.
Caterina Novotny, director of marketing for Prevue Hendryx in Chicago, says: “We have found that people continue to want diversity in the homes that they purchase for their birds. This diversity comes from many factors, including shapes, colors, materials, sizes and styles. Keeping all this criteria in mind is why we developed a few of our new bird homes.”
Of course, showcasing a wide selection of cages is difficult for many pet stores, since these products take up a lot of space. Cages that do not have stands can be hooked up on walls, placed on high shelves or hung from ceiling chains, making them easily visible for customers, while still being out of the way. Displaying other styles of cages can be more challenging.
Still, stores must take some cages out of their boxes and merchandise them effectively if they expect customers to buy any. Cages in boxes never sell as well. Retailers only need to display one or two cages of each style they offer—other colors or variations in the product lines can be kept boxed. Stores that have limited space to display all their cage options can also provide customers with a sell sheet or catalog, so they can see the other colors and styles available.
Having the right selection of bird homes is key, as well. “We are seeing more purchasing focus being placed on the more ornate and higher-end cages, such as Victorian-style tops and stainless-steel cages,” says Alex Vigh, general manager at A&E Cage Company in Burlington, N.J.
Prevue is featuring stainless-steel cages that are reminiscent of old-fashioned bird homes in its new cage line. “These round, stainless-steel bird homes with beautiful porcelain cups and foot-friendly, notched-wood perches fit all the criteria for something that is not currently on the market, and they add a very stylish, decorative and special home for people’s pets,” Novotny says.
Silver, black and white are still the most common colors in bird homes, but manufacturers also offer a multitude of trendy colors. A&E Cage Company has expanded its current color selection to include new colors such as burgundy in a select number of cages. “In fact, burgundy has done very well for our company, and we anticipate expanding this color to other styles of cages,” says Vigh.
Whenever possible, stores should display bird cages in at least a couple of colors that are in vogue, as well as offer the basics, such as black and white options.
Cage sizes have increased over the past several years for smaller pet birds, allowing birds to be more active and stay healthier. This trend also makes sense since parakeets and cockatiels are by far the most popular parrot species to keep. Prevue has followed this development with a line called Park Plaza. “These are larger cages with wrought-iron construction that are based on our very popular Select Series homes,” says Novotny. “The Park Plaza line has been re-engineered for smaller birds by tightening up the bar spacing to ½ inch. These larger homes include integrated seed guards, are on rolling casters, and provide a high-end look for our customers.”
Although quality bird cages can last many years, it does not mean that the first home bought can or should be used for a bird’s entire lifetime, especially considering the fact that even a small parrot species such as a parakeet can easily live eight or more years—and the larger the bird, the longer the life-span. It can be a challenge, however, to get a bird owner to replace a cage, even when it is breaking down and needs to be replaced. Offering a fresh cage selection featuring trendy styles and colors can help entice a pet owner to buy a new home for their pet, so stores should take advantage of the designs that manufacturers bring out every year. Keeping new styles in stock can also have a great influence on the employees, making them more excited about the bird cages being offered and encouraging them to sell more.
“Retailers are finding that their customers are treating bird enclosures as a piece of furniture, and not simply as a place for the bird to sleep and stay in when the owners are not home,” Vigh says.
Bird cages need to be functional, easy to clean and comfortable, but they must also look good in the customer’s home. Thus, it is important for any pet store that sells cages to offer and display a variety of styles and colors.
Robyn Bright has a master’s degree in parrot biology and more than 35 years of pet retailing experience.