When the pandemic first hit, things were looking precarious for pet supply company West Paw's ordinarily steady business.
But then people were suddenly spending more time at home, locked inside with their pets. People who'd never owned pets before started adopting them in droves.
That's resulted in extra attention -- and dollars -- going toward humanity's best friend. Pet supplies, toys, beds, and grooming products saw double-digit percentage increases in sales from late-March through early July, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to research from market research firms SPINS and IRI.
West Paw's sales in recent months have responded accordingly. From May through September, they were up 55% from the same period last year. One of the bestsellers has been the Toppl -- a bowl-shaped, treat-dispensing puzzle toy -- which has seen its year-to-date sales jump 160%, Spencer Williams, CEO, said, noting the puzzle toy category has grown about 125% year-to-date.
'It has just been staggering how quickly people have pivoted to find ways to keep their dogs engaged and mentally stimulated,' he said.
In response to the boosts in business, the 24-year-old Bozeman, Montana company which makes chew, play and puzzle toys and other dog products, added 19 employees, bumping up its workforce to about 80 people. The company also craned in a 12-ton, 30-foot-long injection molding machine used to make the durable, bendy and recyclable Zogoflex toys for which West Paw is known. As a privately held firm, West Paw doesn't disclose its full financial data, but Williams said sales were above $10 million in 2019.
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