The Dynamic Between Fashion & Function
Nancy Swartzentruber, owner of Dynamic Accents, discusses how an efficient selection of handcrafted wooden pet furniture and enclosures can attract a lucrative customer base.

Pet Business: High-quality, fashionable products have become quite popular in the pet furniture and enclosure categories. What is driving this trend?

Nancy Swartzentruber:
With continually increasing numbers of pet ownership, combined with the “humanizing” aspect of pets, consumers are much more discerning about wanting high-quality products that provide a combination of fashion and function that blends with their overall décor.

PB: Has this trend been affected by the economic turmoil we’ve experienced over the past few years?

The economic turmoil certainly heightens the need to strike a balance of durability combined with fashion and function, but we find that consumers continue to be willing purchase quality furniture-grade products.

PB: How can carrying a selection of these higher-end products benefit a pet store?

The demographic profile of this consumer should be very enticing to pet store owners, and drawing in this higher-end customer to purchase high-quality, fashionable products can offer nice margin increases, spur multiple impulse purchases and certainly overall higher register totals.

PB: What are the biggest challenges that retailers face in selling high-quality, fashionable pet furniture and enclosures? How can they overcome these challenges?

Consumers love to touch and feel products before the buy them. However, the space needed to display the product is certainly a major concern. There is also concern about the inventory investment necessary to have a good selection on hand for items that typically turn slower than foods, treats or soft goods.

We typically recommend that a store carry a few “core” pieces that allow the consumer to touch and see the quality of the product, and then supplement that with signage and brochures to show the breadth of selection available. Once the consumer has made a selection, we drop-ship the item directly to the consumer on the retailer’s behalf. We have seen retailers be quite successful in selling our products by utilizing this strategy.

PB: What are the newest trends in these product categories?

Of course, one of the hottest trends is eco-friendly, which really matters to consumers. That is why we offer only non-toxic, water-based finishes on our products, which are constructed of sustainable, locally grown hardwoods. They are safer for pets and for people than enamel finishes, which contain lead, formaldehyde and other toxic materials.

We are also seeing a trend of softer core colors in many wood stains and finishes.

PB: What are the newest developments from Dynamic Accents? Do you have any new product/line launches in the works?

We have added a new core color to our product assortment, Artisan Bronze. It is a fabulous addition to the line and really showcases the beauty of our quality, handcrafted products.

We also launched a line of outdoor use products in 2011. Our Legacy collection is constructed of solid white oak, which weathers much like teak, and we are excited to expand that collection for the 2012 outdoor season.

There are definitely many exciting new things in development, as well as many more currently under research. We will
be showcasing these additions and more this month at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando.