Pet stores are charming places. Fuzzy hamsters, cuddly puppies, talking parrots, and tropical fish can be found at most of these stores. Walking through a pet store is like taking a stroll through a miniature zoo. If you find yourself visiting your local pet store on a regular basis just for fun, you might be a good candidate for owning your own pet business. Although it takes many things to open a successful business, the first thing you need to run a pet store is a true love for animals. If this is something you are considering, here is an overview of the steps necessary to achieve your dreams of having your own pet shop.
Learn about the pets you plan to sell. This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but many people jump into the pet industry without realizing how much time has to be dedicated to actually taking care of the animals. Most privately-owned pet stores do not have a lot of employees, and the owner has to do a lot of the work himself. Cages will need to cleaned. Animals will need to be fed. Dogs will need to be exercised, and that's just the beginning!
Talk to the experts, people who are already running their own pet store. The best place to do this is on the Internet where you will not have to worry too much about competition. The information you can get from those who have already been in the business is invaluable. While books can be informative, they can't give you the same first-hand point of view that actual people can give you. They already know the challenges involved in the market, and the information they discuss is current and relevant to the time. Also, they can help by giving you tips and suggestions while you are going through the process of opening your business. Once everything is up and running, you can bounce ideas and problems off of each other.
Research your market. Before you open any kind of business, you need to know who your competition will be. You also need to know what you can expect from running such a venture. If you find that there are a lot of other pet stores in the area, you might want to re-think your idea. Perhaps you could specialize in a particular kind of animal as opposed to trying to do what is already being done. At the same time, if the other stores are doing poorly and you think you could do better, go for it.
Write a business plan. This is necessary whether you are funding your business out of pocket, or applying for some kind of loan. The basic reason for having a business plan is to keep yourself on a successful path. You will need to know many details, such as what your goal is, why you think you can succeed, and what your budget is going to look like. The financial aspect of the business can become very complicated and seeking the help of a financial advisor is highly recommended.
Decide how you are going to finance your business venture. Most people do not have the money they need. They have to apply for a small business of loan or seek private investors. Be sure to keep your business plan handy because you will need it to qualify for just about any kind of financing.
Obtain a license if one is required. Currently, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia require pet shops to have a license to sell animals (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont). You can apply for a license at the Department of Agriculture in your state. The fee varies widely depending on location and may cost anywhere between 30 and 300 dollars.
Design your floor plan. While this might take awhile, it can be a lot of fun. You will need to decide where you want to put your shelves, cages, cash register, and any other displays you plan on having. How detailed you decide to make the floor plan is up to you. You can make blue prints, or you can also just freehand the lay-out in a notebook.
Order your non-living supplies. It is wise to consult many different companies to ensure that you are getting a good price for the products you want to stock. Consulting an internet forum can be very helpful in this step. Pet stores owners are usually happy to recommend good companies.
Stock your animals. Once again, it is important to shop around for the best price. Another very important thing to consider when ordering your animals is the source from which they are coming. Make sure you are not supporting any puppy mills or companies that use illegal means of getting their stock. It's also a great idea to help support animal shelters and humane societies that have animals in need of a home.
Advertise your business in magazines, stores, restaurants, newspapers, and any other media that reaches large numbers of people. The extent you are able to go will depend on your budget. This is one area where you should not skimp. After all, you need customers to make your business work. In order to get those people in the door, they have to know you are there.
Corrie Agnew studied English with a writing concentration at Franciscan University in Ohio. Besides writing about various topics at Demand Studios, she also blogs and dabbles in short fiction. Her subjects of expertise include women's health and parenting.