Want to open a pet store, do it right


I currently own and run a successful pet grooming salon and its in kind of a small strip mall. The shop that is right next to mine and used to be connected with an indoor door, is up for rent and has been for a long time, at least a year. I have always wanted to have my own pet store, this shop is a bit smallish but I think it could work and I'd love to have both connected. I already sell some dog and cat food and other dog items. The landlord is great and I kind of want to ask him if he'd offer me a deal on the rent of both shops, its fairly cheap rent in the one I'm in compared to other commercial sites.

My idea is so have some fish for sale, mostly common ones, but have them displayed in nice tanks, some with different tank ideas of how to set up for certain fish. I'd also have the ability to order in less common fish for those that might want them. I would sell some tanks and supplies, but will not sell tanks smaller than 5 gallons, I really do think that smaller tanks are pretty much pointless (though I do get why some people might want them for quarantine tanks or a snail/shrimp set up). I am still learning about a lot of fish, but am good at researching. I plan to try and breed some of my own critters, for aquatic ones such as guppies, shrimp and snails. And grow some of my own plants.

On the non aquatic side, I'd offer mice, gerbils, rats, possibly a chinchilla or ferret now and then, some small birds but possibly order in some of the larger birds for those that want them. I used to breed chinchillas so would breed my own, ferrets I'd likely order in. Breed my own mice, gerbils and rats. I also can breed my own zebra finches and possibly some of my own other little birds (but I'd have to see how much room I have)

Reptiles I already have a connection with a good breeder who also knows other breeders. I would not offer puppy mill dogs/cats, but offer rescues and shelters the chance to keep a dog or cat or two at my shop to be up for adoption there until adopted. I would never order in dogs or cats.

In any sense I would be sure all owners were actually informed of how to properly care for the animals they get. I went to college for vet tech, specializing in small animals and exotics so I already know more than most usual pet owners and am willing to research for the animals sake, any other ones I don't know enough about. I plan to send each pet with a care sheet or packet depending on complexity of care. I'd probably have basic care items but nothing that is unsafe, not big enough, etc for any of the critters. I wouldnt' be like the pet stores who know nothing or sell unsafe items. I wouldn't have bettas in cups either, I may try my hand at breeding them just so I don't have to order them in. Offer only a few at a time which would be kept in decent tanks (probably 5 gallons or so).

Along with all this I'd like to offer basically a "hotline" but more so they call the store and ask for info on any animal even if I didn't sell them it. If its after hours of course they'd leave a message and I'd specify its not for emergencies. I plan to eventually back out a bit from my grooming because of the wear and tear on my body, I want to either go part time or even just run the business side and have a full and part time groomer. This pet store then is what I'd be doing every day, but I'd be next door to be there for anything my groomers need. I guess in a sense too I could then have all these pets I'd get to care for every day, but would sell too lol.

One thing I need to know though is if anyone knows where I can find info on what permits and such I might need for my state, Nebraska. I would think I'd only need some if they were exotic animals. But not sure. Also how does this idea sound? I don't have the money right now but would really like to figure things out anyway.


Hey lots of luck to you.....do you realize the time that it will take to,do everything that you mentioned. Take care of all animals in stock, take care of fish, help folks with questions, answer phone. Etc, etc. now I realize why the pet store that opened nearby is beginning to look "not as good as it did the day it opened". BTW, ferrets are a very hot item in my area, more than any of the other furry little critters.

Claire Bear

HI and it sounds great. You might try to get a small business loan-work out a business plan and find out who sponsors those in your state. Most of your info can be found on the web.
I do have one concern about the rat-just have recently read several stories about them having issues passed to their human owners. One was sold by either Petco or Petsmart but they are currently being sued over this rodent.
Good luck if you decide to follow through with your idea.
Lastly, in my town the pet store has volunteers placed there through a program for adults with intellectual disability. That program helps the store maintain animals, clean shelving and other paid jobs-the owner, I believe pays a portion and a state/fed funded program pays the larger portion.


You having your own pet shop sounds like a wonderful idea!

I would contact your Department of Agriculture in regards to permits and your Secretary of State should be able to help you with business licensing.

Hope this helps!

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