Marketing Pet Hollands

by Sylvia Hess

Some breeders live in areas where they must "create" a market for their pet culls. This involves public education, public relations, and a good business attitude. The following is how I have built a pet market.

Pet store bunnies usually come from the first and second culling. They are the ones with a few too many faults to be kept or sold as breeding stock. Most pet stores will not accept Hollands over 10 weeks of age so breeders must become adept in fault finding prior to this age. These pets can pay your feed bills!

The pet rabbit is a relatively inexpensive pet even when the cost of equipment is added in, and maintenance is low. Discuss with the pet store owner or manager what a good pet the Holland Lop is and let them know that you are an ARBA and HLRSC member and can assure them that your stock is purebred and healthy. Do not attempt to undercut the market as you will only hurt yourself and the breed. If necessary explain the difference between fancy and commercial breeds and the size difference between Holland and Mini Lops. Show the store personnel how to sex bunnies and offer to answer questions. Leave a bunny care sheet with the store and try to place a couple of eye appealing Hollands with them so they can see how fast these bunnies sell when exposed to the general public.

Pet sales from your home: These are better typed bunnies that have taken a little longer to decide if they stay or go. Most are breeding quality and are sold at twice the wholesale pet store rate without pedigrees, more if pedigreed. Have a separate area to display these bunnies. If you allow access to your rabbitry, the pet buyer will invariably fall in love with one of your 'keepers' and you may wind up with no sale when you tell them that one is not for sale or it is not in their acceptable price range.

The first step when the pet buyer arrives is to question them as to what they want and expect from a pet bunny and their color preference. I explain the different personality types. Some people want a cuddly bunny and some want one more the 'Dennis the Menace' type - very active, curious, and extroverted. Using these facts you can show them 3 to 4 bunnies that you feel will meet their expectations. I set the bunnies up on a towel covered table and allow them to show themselves off. Showing them too many bunnies can make it more difficult for them to choose, especially if children are involved. The chosen bunny is always the one who has eye appeal - good head, poses up and extroverted.

When they ask me to tell them the faults, they do not seem to care about body faults or that the ears are too long etc. They are buying on eye appeal! All my customers do appreciate the honest appraisal.

They leave with a 4 page care sheet that has saved many phone calls when rabbit facts have been forgotten, and it has helped them to select the best equipment and feed. My most effective ads began with: "Holland lop eared dwarf bunnies." This has let the potential buyer know they are a dwarf breed and lop eared - it's a starting point!

Word of mouth sales come from pet and feed stores, and people who have previously purchased a rabbit. The work and time it takes to match up a bunny as closely as possible to the purchaser's needs does pay off and leads to multiple sales within a family and their group of friends. This is a win/win situation leaving everyone, including the rabbit, happy!

Remember - if something is priced too cheaply it is human nature to think it is of little value.

HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002