In a little over a decade, Teresa Miller has grown Treats Unleashed from a small mall kiosk to a thriving seven-store chain with locations in the St. Louis area, Columbia, Mo., and Leawood, Kan. Earlier this year, Treats Unleashed was honored for its merchandising at the 2013 Global Pet Expo Retailer Excellence Awards. Miller discusses the honor, as well as her award-winning approach to merchandising, with Pet Business.
Theresa Miller (center), accepts her Retailer Excellence Award from Pet Business publisher Seth Mendelson and American Pet Products Association president and CEO Bob Vetere. (Photo courtesy of The Photo Group)
Congratulations on the Merchandising Excellence Award at Global Pet Expo! What does the win mean to you and your staff?
Being recognized for merchandising excellence is a huge compliment to my team. We have spent countless hours designing our stores to create an upbeat and appealing atmosphere. With a central merchandising strategy and company story to lead them, it falls within the responsibility of the store managers and their teams to keep displays fresh and create new, clever displays within their limited space restraints. I am really proud of our team and their practice of sharing ideas between stores. This award recognizes both their merchandising talents and creativity, but also their high level of cooperation.
From your perspective, how important is a good merchandising strategy in driving sales?
A good merchandising strategy is critical in driving sales. Refreshing displays and rotating product, along with spotlighting new products and their benefits, means that customers see something new every time they come into the store. They get the feeling of finding new treasures with every visit, along with the confidence that we keep up with the newest innovations in the pet industry in an effort to improve the lives of their pets.
What is the biggest merchandising mistake you have made in the past, and what lesson did you learn from it?
When we first started, we didn't use enough signage to communicate with our customers. I didn't want a cluttered shop, so we keep signage to a minimum. We've found that signage can be complementary to your products, instead of distracting. Signs that spotlight new product or a products benefits educate customers and drive sales.
How long have you been attending Global Pet Expo? How does attending the show benefit your business?
We've been attending the Global Pet Expo for five years. The show has evolved to being an excellent resource for independent storeowners, in terms of evaluating new product and networking. Networking with other stores and with the representatives of products that we carry keep us up to date with the industry and creates relationships that last throughout the year.