Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wild Birds Unlimited In California Has Record Memorial Day Sales

An article in Contra Costa Times features a Wild Birds Unlimited that had record sales over Memorial Day Weekend. Here's an excerpt:

"And if you thought the pet industry stopped at your fence line, you haven't been to Wild Birds Unlimited, a chain of more than 270 franchises throughout the country that cater to feeding wild birds, the second-most popular hobby next to gardening.

In Pleasant Hill, Mike Williams owns the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise on Contra Costa Boulevard that is not only the largest birdseed seller in the chain, but it's the largest in the entire country and apparently getting bigger.

"We just had a record Memorial Day weekend for sales,'' Williams said Tuesday of his store that has been in the same comfy confines since taking over a failed savings and loan building in 1991. "And that follows a record April and March.''

And this isn't just throw-some-seed-in-your-back-yard kind of stuff. There's some serious research going on here, such as Jim's Birdacious Butter Bark. Spread it on your favorite tree or anywhere else you would like to attract birds, and they will come quicker than hound dogs to a hunt.

Williams says people are staying at home more, making their back yards more of a "sanctuary'' and that wild birds become pets to those who feed them regularly, although the birds would not appreciate that tag, Williams says.

Noting consumer spending habits in a recession offers some valuable lessons. Clearly, pets and their needs are necessities when it comes to the family budget. Don't label pet food as discretionary spending."

You can read the full article here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Revised Woodworking For Wildlife

The popular how to build a bird house book known as Woodworking For Wildlife has been revised. The new edition includes more photos and plans for more varieties of species. The 164 page book includes over 300 photos of the houses and critters that use them.

Over 90,000 copies of this book have been sold since it first came out in 1995. It's written by Carrol Henderson of the Minnesota DNR, but includes plans or species all over the United States. The plans include the traditional species like chickadees, bluebirds, and wren, but there are also plans for dipper nests, bumblebee nests, toads, and flying squirrels as well as the latest on tweaks for designs like the nesting platform of the common loon.

The book retails for $16.95. Contact your book supplier for details on ordering.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Another Threat To The Cost Of Sunflower?

They've found another use for sunflower seeds...a means for delivering caffeine.

SumSeeds has found a way to not just put caffeine on the sunflower shell, but they have actually caffeinated the seeds themselves. "A lot of people chew sunflower seeds to stay awake and give them energy, and we just thought we'd combine the two of them," said Tim Walter, president of Carpenter-based Dakota Valley Products.

I will be interesting to see if this product takes off and affects the availability of seed for birds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tips For Offering Discounts

There's a great article in Small Business Weekly offering tips on when to offer discounts:

Think before you slash. That's the advice John Quelch, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, gives to business owners tempted to cut prices. "You don't want to give away your profit margin to customers who still would have paid full price," he says.

Whether they're following Quelch's advice or acting impulsively, nearly 30% of small business owners say they have lowered their prices, according to a February survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. "They're struggling and asking, 'What can I do to save my business?'" says Martin Lehman, an adviser with the New York offices of SCORE, a nonprofit business counseling group.

If sales are hemorrhaging or customers are flocking to deal making competitors, discounting might be necessary. That's especially true if you've already exhausted other options, such as offering consumers extra perks or improved service. But chopping prices is not without risks, including a cheapened brand image and customers who will never pay full price again. And if there's no demand, even signs that scream "Lowest Price Ever!" won't draw customers.

To discount successfully, you need to take a look at what your competitors are up to, then analyze your company's previous experience with promotions. If discounting is uncharted territory, you might experiment with a short-term sale to test the waters or, if you can afford it, bring in a research firm to gauge customer responses to proposed price cuts.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Squirrel Boss

Many saw the new remote-controlled-electrified-solar-powered-squirrel-resistant bird feeder called The Squirrel Boss at Birdwatch America this past January and some were anxious to give it a go in their stores. The feeders have been unavailable since the show but an announcement just came out that the feeders are now available for sale, visit their website for further details.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Worse Than Squirrels

Next time a customer complains about squirrels at the feeder, tell them it could be worse. BirdBlogger got this photo of rats (yes, that's rats in the plural) on a feeder.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Workers On Twitter and Facebook

Internet trends can change faster than the weather in any given state. But like it or not, Twitter and Facebook are the hot place to be. Some birding companies realize that a value is there. If companies like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts didn't think a social networking site like Twitter was worthwhile, would they waste time with having profiles and regular updates? Take a look at the number of followers they have--that's how many people have signed up to receive updates from them--their followers have said, "Yes, I would like to know what you have going on."

Some birding companies you can find on Twitter include a Wild Birds Unlimited in Upstate New York, a bird artist called Birdorable who sells bird t-shirts, mugs, and magnets, and a company called BirdHouse Outlet trying to get their online retail shop some business.

If you as a store manager or owner are not comfortable delving into the world of social media, look at your employees. Are any of them already plugged into the online world? Consider recruiting them to help you get your company message out. If they are already familiar with it, understand it, and enjoy doing it, why not tap that resource?

Companies are seeing the value of younger employees working on the Internet, even while engaging in personal use on the job. For many young people, it's how they interact with the world. Consider this article from The Salt Lake Tribune . It describes Marty Kotis, who owns a real estate development firm in Greensboro, N.C. He discovered on the company's monthly wireless bill, that staffers were racking up the charges with text messages. One employee alone had 2,500 messages, while two others had 800 and 700. But, he didn't reprimand the employees, because he realized that the ones with the highest text messages were also the ones who were the best at their jobs and worked extra hours.

Kotis noted that activities like texting and using Facebook and Twitter are more likely to be done by younger staffers, who use these tools to communicate with the entire world. That means they're probably using those communication channels for work, too. Kotis said one of his employees "pretty much did a deal through text."

Read the full article here, it's enlightening and also a realization that social media is not just something for staff to waste time on (although, that's not to say some staff will not abuse it on the job). But rather than fearing it and keep staff away from Twitter and Facebook, harness that power to your company's advantage.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oregon Bird Feeding Tax Stalled

The Oregon measure HB3303 that would have established a 10% excise tax on mixed wild bird feed products at the wholesale level, has stopped further action on the bill for the 2009 legislative session.

Key support for the measure was lost and at best, even bird lovers were divided. Proponents were concerned about creating opposition that would cripple future actions and may reach out to bird industry leaders and other key players to discuss actions for the 2011 legislative session.