Monday, July 30, 2007
A month or two back some comic book and game store owners were discussing on an on-line forum the benefits of having a pet in the store. I thought the few who were all for it were crazy.
Then, today we get our EdPlay August 07 - a magazine for game retailers, and they have a whole article on the benefits of having a pet in your store.
Now, let me first say I have nothing against pets. I own a dog (pictured) and once in a great while she has to come to the store, but it's usually after hours or for a very brief time. I like cats, although I don't own any. Really, I enjoy companion animals.
However, I really don't feel that they are appropriate in a retail store. Unless you own some kind of pet store, I don't think having your own pet in the store is a good idea. Any time I have seen a pet in a place of business, I have cringed. Not because I don't like pets, but because I don't like pets at work. People have brought their dogs into the store while they were shopping - a bird once too - and it really didn't bother me because the pets were behaved and in and out fairly quickly. But I wouldn't bring my own dog here every day all day. I just wouldn't do it. Even if she didn't feel the need to bark at anything that moves.
Here are some of the points made in the EdPlay article:
"Retailers with animals in their stores have found another way to strike up a conversation: 'Have you met our store pet?' A friendly dog or cat usually gets customers talking and makes them feel more at ease."
"A friendly dog wagging his tail may not be the greeter that first-time visitors to your store expect, but most will be delighted to see one. A pet can instantly make the atmosphere in your store more welcoming and cozy."
"An animal can be a huge draw for your store; several retailers told us that their pets contribute to repeat customer traffic, as people will stop in just to visit their animals."
"A toy store with an animal is just like heaven to a kid, so your pet just might give you an edge over the other shops in town. Plus, parents get the opportunity to browse and ask all their questions while your pet keeps the little ones entertained."
Their only criticism of having a pet in the store: "It's important to keep in mind that some people are allergic or afraid of animals. Be considerate of people's wishes, or you risk losing customers."
I definitely agree with the last point, and it is one of the major reasons to not have a pet in the store. They can make people allergic or nervous, and that doesn't make for happy shoppers. And what if the animal gets excited or pesters someone who doesn't want to be pestered? What if the animal knocks down something or scares someone's child? I think that specialty stores need to have something more to offer their customers than just a chance to hang out with the store's pet.
What do you think? Would you rather shop in a store where they have an in-store pet? If your comic book store owner started bringing a pet in, would it make you feel better or worse about the store? Would you visit more or less often? Have you been in a specialty (non-pet) store where there was a pet? How did it make you feel?