Article in Pet Product News April 2006

Richard HorvitzAug 1, '18


Golden Cockatoo is not your ordinary bird store. They have been in business since 1983, and just recently moved to their new 4,500 square foot building in Deerfield Beach, Florida; Richard Horvitz and Ian Brown are the two owners of Golden Cockatoo. “Our firm belief is that we have an obligation to take care of our birds – they have no one else but us.” It is very clear that Golden Cockatoo combines an experienced business sense/profit motive with deep concern for the keeping of birds. “Our first concern is for the successful marriage of birds and Customers so that everyone is happy and healthy.”


Cleanliness and knowledge are the two most important concerns at Golden Cockatoo. “All of our employees must own at least one bird – some have more. Everyone who works at Golden Cockatoo will become a Certified Avian Specialist (PIJAC). We are constantly providing education for both our Customers and our staff. Our philosophy is that we do not simply sell birds; Rather, we ‘place’ birds with owners.”

All of the parrots sold by Golden Cockatoo are captive bred, mostly from the large local breeding community in Florida. The incredibly destructive hurricanes of last season had a significant impact on Florida breeders, who are just now starting to build up sufficient stock, according to Rick. Many birds are bred in-house, including green-cheeked conures, fancy love birds (violets and lutinos), fancy cockatiels, canaries and English budgies. Better than 50% of the bird sales (by dollar volume) are in large specialty birds, with keets, canaries, finches, cockatiels representing around 25%. The most expensive bird at Golden Cockatoo is a Hyacinth Macaw for $14,000.

“We make absolutely sure that they have found out why the Customer wants to own a bird, and that they realize that keeping birds, especially the larger ones, requires a lot of time. And we then give them specific information on the bird they are considering so that the care requirements are clearly understood. Our goal is to have a happy Customer and a happy bird. And one of the biggest advantages we have over most stores is the expertice of my business partner. Ian understands the needs of the birds and is the most talented individual I have ever met when it comes to hand feeding, grooming, and recognizing any health issues. We make the perfect team – I’m the business person, he’s the avian expert.”

Golden Cockatoo offers a lifetime guarantee on any bird they sell. If a Customer can’t keep a bird they will take it back on consignment and split the sale price (less boarding costs) with the Customer. Ian reports that Moluccan Cockatoos are the birds most frequently put in this program.


“We try to have a huge selection of cages, and not your everyday ones at that,” according to Rick. “If you want to sell a lot of cages, you need to display a lot of cages.” Rick and Ian believe that cages should be beautiful, safe, functional, with the primary concern being the health and happiness of the bird. They prefers stainless steel over powder coated metal whenever possible. Rick sums it up by saying, “We offer any cage a Customer would want. We carry a huge stock of standard cages, plus plenty of custom crafted aviaries and cages. As well, we have and continue to create our own cage designs”


When it comes to foods for the birds, Golden Cockatoo continues to be unique. “With all of our foods, we shoot for a per pound profit, rather than a percentage margin. When it comes down to it what I make per pound of food sold is what I really care about,” comments Rick. In keeping with the rest of the store, upscale, nitrate-free organic foods are offered, some that sell for as much as $10 per pound. “You can read the label and pronounce every ingredient” says Rick. “People are a lot more health conscious nowadays. They treat their bird as part of the family, and want to feed them healthy foods as well.”

There is a huge selection of toys offered for every different kind of bird. Some of the big toys for cockatoos and macaws can weigh up to 10 – 12 pounds, and retail for $25 - $55. “Big birds like these are always chewing- they need to destroy things,” says Horvitz. “You need to keep them busy or they may have behavioral issues.”

To keep track of their over 3,000 items, Rick programmed and installed a sophisticated POS system that not only provides automated vendor purchase orders but also provides detailed cost and sales analysis. “The computer takes the guess work out of how many of what item sold for how much. Our toys need to pay their share of the rent. If they are not performing, they are relegated to our 30% off bin.”


Rick Horvitz thinks that the trend in the retail pet industry is “big box” stores and e-commerce to supplement brick and mortar establishments. “We intend to keep Golden Cockatoo at the forefront. Our re-designed site is now up and running. In addition, we are expanding our in-house breeding to include more of the smaller birds. We’re always looking for new things to try. If I don’t make any strategic mistakes, I’m not pushing the envelope, and that inaction will empower others to knock us off our perch.”

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