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cat furniture

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My hubby loves to build things and has recently brought up wanting to build cat furniture and sell it to local stores...or to others.
In the winter he doesnt have alot of work because he puts siding on houses.
Could anyone suggest ways to market a thing like this? Would it even be worth it?
So many other people do this...
post #2 of 17
maybe you could post it on a website, pictures of the done cat furniture.. maybe do customising? i would definitely do a small name card and distribute it to the cat owners that lives in the area and let them know that i'm doing cat furniture... word of mouth is a powerful thing... hope it helps
post #3 of 17
My thoughts are only if it is different from all the others on the market. I am still looking for one that the cats can climb that is built on a slant and not straight up- I haven't seen anything like it, but i know in this house, it would be a sure hit for my climbers
post #4 of 17
one word...EBAY! Cat condos go for big money on there. My husband was going to start building them but we just haven't had the time.
post #5 of 17
Originally posted by Princess Purr
one word...EBAY! Cat condos go for big money on there. My husband was going to start building them but we just haven't had the time.
Val took the word right out of my mouth Ebay is the way to go. That is where I bought my cat tree and have been really pleased with it. I will be searching for another one soon on Ebay.
post #6 of 17
I agree with Hissy...most important that you offer something a bit different. I'd suggest a really good look at what is currently offered - check as many of the online folks you can like angelicalcats, the felinefurniture folks (we just got the piece we won from them and I look forward to when it is set up!!), what Amy at Catsplay offers and as Val suggested, check what folks are selling on ebay. This will give you a good idea of current styles and prices, and then brainstorm what you think you can do different or better (pricing, shipping costs will also be important decisions).

I'd suggest skipping a website for now - go directly to marketing these at local cat shows...cat show exhibitors and the folks who like to go visit cat shows are a "qualified" group of folk, their feedback and interest will help you decide what is most popular, what prices work etc. Also consider donating pieces to local rescue group auctions (you'd get free advertising as well as making some cats extremely happy) to get the quality of what you offer out there.

hth and best wishes to you if you do go forward with this!
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
My husband has a tendencie to try to do everything he does different than others and loves to improve on things ...very creative actually...so this is a plus...
maybe if he starts doing this ...he can customize one for you
Thanx for all the ideas guys...ya know this may work...

thanx alot!!
Lorien <whose hubby is out in garage right now building a cat window seat>
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
We also love the idea of donating to shelters...thanx for coming up with that one...I am always looking for ways to help the cats there...since i cant bring anymore in ths tiny tiny house
post #9 of 17

You are welcome. It's something I enjoy being able to do (though I don't have cat furniture). There is a shelter I send monthly little bags of toys - each adopted cat gets one bag to take with them to their new home.
post #10 of 17
Good luck with the buisiness. I agree with everyone else. Compare the other companies and see if you can come up with something diferent. If you do decide you want a website, I use yahoo's geocities (www.geocities.com). It's free and easy to use. Since it's free and it costs so much starting a buisiness this will be one less thing to have to pay for.
post #11 of 17
you can get a yahoo website for 11.95 a month that you can sell stuff on, the free sites are you not supposed to sell items from.
post #12 of 17
Originally posted by Princess Purr
the free sites are you not supposed to sell items from.
I didnt know that when I mentioned the free geocities...sorry himmymommy...
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thats ok amber
post #14 of 17

Thanks. I hated that I didnt know.
post #15 of 17

Lets Talk. I did exactly what your husband is considering doing. I started my own business selling unique cat furniture. I wanted to create the best cat furniture on the market. I've had some success and some failure. Here is what I've learned:

1. Regardless of how good your stuff is, people have a set budget for cat furniture. Except for a select few, most people want to spend between $100 - $300 at the most on cat furniture. If your husband is like me, you can build anything you want, BUT the challenge is to make it profitable and something people can afford. I didn't properly account for my time when I developed my first product line. When all was said and done, I was only making $12.00/hour.

2. If you plan to ship your product, you need to learn about packaging and make sure your design is something that can be shipped for a reasonable price. If it costs $80+ to ship, people are not going jump when they see your product.

3. GO TO CAT SHOWS!!! GO TO CAT SHOWS!! Talk to people and learn what people really want. I paid $100 for a vendor space at a Cat Show in Atlanta and brought samples of my work. I didn't have a huge inventory to sell, but I learned alot and got my name out.

4. PRACTICE ! PRACTICE ! PRACTICE ! Be prepared to mess up the first few times when you start building. Many times things look good on paper, but are much harder to build than you think. Be prepared to make devices in your shop to help you build your furniture. I had to make my own wrapping machine to wind sisal rope around posts.

5. Look for good suppliers. Odds are your local Home Depot or Lowes will have most everything you need BUT not everything. I actually have sisal rope shipped to me from Ohio in 1200ft spools because its better quality and cheaper than getting 50ft mini-coils from Home Depot.

6. Design is everything. Do your homework and be prepared to make changes to your design even after you start selling your product. If you have something truly unique, consider getting an ornamental design patent from the US patent office. Copyright is meaningless and only protects the presentation of your furniture, not the design itself.

Sales & Marketing: Here are some tips.

1. Ask your vet if you can display a sample of your work at his/her office. I donated a unit to my vet and people started calling soon after asking how they could get one.

2. If your going to approach pet stores, try hitting the smaller local stores instead of Petsmart & Petco. The supercenters are locked into supplier agreements and are not likley to sell your product.

3. Build your own internet store front. Check out www.pair.com. They have excellent web account packages starting at $8.95/month. They also have all the tools for shopping carts, merchant accounts, etc etc.

4. If you want to test your product without going into business, give ebay a chance. However, understand your product will encounter lots of competition there. Lots of small businesses dump products they couldn't sell at full price on ebay. There are also alot of people selling homemade cat furniture there. Some units are beautiful, others are not very well made. Keep in mind people go to ebay looking for a bargain, so don't expect to make alot of money.

5. Be careful of merchant accounts. Ebay and Paypal can become costly. You could wind up spending 10-20 dollars selling 1 item between your ebay listing and transaction charges through paypal. If your going to take credit cards consider getting a real merchant account. I recommend going through QuickBooks merchant services.

6. Beware of resellers. Many online resellers will flatter you with offers to list your product on their site. In reality, some don't really care if your products sells or not. I'm not saying all resellers are bad. On the contrary, some are quite good. Just use your judgement. I would recommend Catsplay.com if you want to use a reseller.

*** Cat funiture is a competitve industry. Your not going to make lots of money overnight. After talking with different competitors I've come to follow conclusion. Those who truly enjoy building cat furniture and working with cats make the most beautiful pieces. ***

I hope this all helped.
post #16 of 17
OOOOOOO I just got a idea! I'm not sure if you've thought of this, but could you guys invest in a Computer Aided Drafting program or somthing? You could design 3D models of the cat trees before you make them. It would be much neater looking and easier to view and make changes too than simple paper and pencil.
post #17 of 17
You could design 3D models of the cat trees before you make them. It would be much neater looking and easier to view and make changes too than simple paper and pencil.
Gothic_Amethyst has a good idea. However, you will need to build a prototype before you can sell your product. Its ok to play with design software, but cats can't test out the product looking at a computer drawing.

I started out using Autocad, but after I had a prototype it was fair easier to make changes.
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