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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

More animals on Santa's route

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Nancy Poupard, at the Doggie Boutique in Perrysburg's Town Center at Levis Commons, shows off outerwear. Nancy Poupard, at the Doggie Boutique in Perrysburg's Town Center at Levis Commons, shows off outerwear.
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Move over, Johnny and Susie, you're going to have to make room around the Christmas tree this year for Fido and Fluffy.

Although it's still early in the holiday shopping season, animals of all shapes and sizes are expected to haul in their own fair share of loot this year as an increasing number of consumers shower their pets with gifts that are just as elaborate as those bought for family and friends.

A diamond-encrusted collar, anyone?

"I think there's going to be a pile under the Fido stocking," said Michelle Edelman, co-editor of After Sixty: Marketing to Baby Boomers Reaching Their Big Transition Years, which is to be released this month.

Bigger-ticket potential presents include a pooch-sized custom sofa and a canopy bed. Bigger-ticket potential presents include a pooch-sized custom sofa and a canopy bed.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

She said Baby Boomers, who have spent years taking care of not only their children but also their aging parents, are especially open to spending on their animals.

"The parenting instincts are not leaving these empty-nesters, and one of the industries that is really benefiting is the pet industry," she said.

Nearly $39 billion will be spent on pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. It does not break out how much will be spent on gifts, but 55 percent of dog owners and 37 percent of cat owners say they will buy their pets holiday presents.

Hoping at least some of those shoppers come through her doors is Nancy Poupard, of the Doggie Boutique, which opened this year in Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg.

Bigger-ticket potential presents include a pooch-sized custom sofa and a canopy bed. Bigger-ticket potential presents include a pooch-sized custom sofa and a canopy bed.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Christmas gift-buyers can browse through accessories and dressy clothes as well as fresh-baked goodies.

"We have everything from a few dollars on up to a custom sofa for $400 and a dog bed for $200," she said.

Giving holiday gifts to creatures small and large has become so accepted that the National Retail Federation plans to include the category in next year's survey on shopping trends, said Kathy Grannis, a spokesman for the Washington group.

"Consumers have shown that they enjoy buying things that make them happy, and oftentimes that happiness is found in their beloved pet," she said.

Holiday gift-giving is becoming such a tradition among pet owners that Petco, one of the nation's largest pet-store chains, has a special holiday gift gallery on its Web site with the slogan: "Shop today and make their winter wishes come true." It is sending out a holiday gift guide to select customers and is preparing two holiday-themed advertising circulars.

Its network of stores, including two in the Toledo area, have substantial gift displays.

"Pets are part of the family just like our kids, so it's just like getting one of the kids a present," said Don Cowan, a spokesman for the San Diego-based chain.

The company doesn't reveal the amount typically spent on holiday gifts.

But Petco colleague Rachel McLennan said, "We have what we call bling-bling collars." Owners can spell out their pet's name in jeweled letters on a collar.

For the owner who cannot decide what to get?

"We even offer a Petco gift card," Mr. Cowan said.

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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