All Play at Choosing Pet Toys
September 30, 2010 -
Does your dog go crazy for tennis balls or have a “baby” stuffed toy that he can’t let go of? Do you find yourself tripping over toy mice in the dark? You’re not alone. According to the ASPCA, pet owners can expect to spend $50 a year on toys for a cat and dogs and $25 a year for small pets like hamsters or guinea pigs. My own pets, a Siberian husky and a Harlequin Macaw, received almost $200 in toys this past year!
A lot of thought goes into choosing the perfect toy! When I’m choosing toys for my pets, I look at durability (will it last longer than 5 minutes) and the materials the toy contains (will the squeaker in this toy drive me nuts). This got me thinking: who chooses the toys for PetSmart?
This enviable task belongs to Jim Smith and Heather Anderson, two of PetSmart’s toy buyers who shared with me what criteria they use when choosing toys for cats and dogs.
What is the most popular toy?
Jim: For dogs, tennis balls and Frisbees are number. Plush toys are also popular.
Heather: For cats, the most popular toys are lasers, balls, and mice.
How does PetSmart decide what toys to carry?
Jim: We look to see what people are buying and try to stock the most popular toys in our department annually. Promotionally, we also try new products and continually bring new innovative products to market.
How are toys tested prior to being sold?
Heather: Many of us try toys out on our own pets to see what their reaction is. My cat, Harvey, has a great track record of picking out top selling toys. Harvey helped pick out Petlinks System Twinkle Chute with Lights Cat Toy and Petlinks System Jeepers Creepers Giant Refillable Catnip Toy
Jim: My dogs helped pick out Bo-bo.
How should a Pet Parent pick the best toy for their pet?
Jim: First, the size of the dog, and his mouth, is important. You want to make sure the toy doesn’t present a choking hazard. Also, if your dog is an aggressive chewer make sure that toys are made of an endurable material such as rubber.
Heather: Learn your cat’s play behavior. Does she get crazy with catnip, love to scratch, or would rather cuddle with a stuffed animal? Some cats love teaser toys like lasers while others prefer more interactive toys.
What are your criteria for choosing your pets’ toys? Tell me about it!
Jim Smith: Jim works with the industry’s top dog toy suppliers to choose toys that cater to pups and their wide array of needs and to develop proprietary toys, like PetSmart’s exclusive line of Bo-bos. With more than 30 years of retail expertise, Jim identifies the best toys on the market and chooses them for their quality and functionality. Jim is the proud pet parent to Sadie, a Miniature Pincher, Buster, a Chinese Shar-Pei, and two cats, Snickers and Tux.
Heather Anderson: For more than 10 years, Heather has been tracking the latest trends in retail. Now, Heather knows all there is about the coolest cat products, from beds and bowls to books and toys. Heather’s cat, Harvey, rules the family and is the official product tester. So far, he has a perfect record: when he likes something, it sells well. Lulu, Heather’s Maltese, knows what it means to be ahead of the curve: she gets her toes manicured and painted pink at PetSmart. And Bentley, her 180-pound Landseer Newfoundland, is equally well groomed, but pink isn’t really his color.