A Step-by-Step Guide to Opening Your Very Own Pet Store

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 11/23/21 •  5 min read
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Pets are increasingly becoming part of more and more American families. Statista reported that in 2019, 67 percent of American households owned at least one pet, the most preferred types being dogs, cats, and freshwater fish. Unsurprisingly, there is a rather large market for pet-related products and services, with the same Statista report noting how Americans spend USD 99 billion annually on their pets.

Its stands to reason, then, that there’s a great business opportunity in catering to Americans’ love for pets. To be specific, you can benefit from this passion for animal companions by opening your very own pet store.

The best part about this type of business is that you can sell practically anything pet-related in your establishment. You can sell branded wholesale dog toys, leashes, harnesses, collars, dog beds and blankets, collapsible travel cups and bowls, and more!

Needless to say, a pet store has the potential to become a lucrative venture. So, if this is a business opportunity that you’d like to pursue, read on. In this article, we’ll outline a few important pointers you need to remember:

Identify Your Target Market and Niche

Before anything else, you need to know who you’re planning to sell to. So, start by conducting careful and comprehensive market research. To be specific, you need to identify your primary target market.

Are you selling to only dog owners, or are you also catering to cat lovers? Will your store be a one-stop shop for all pet owners’ needs or will you only be selling pet products relevant to a specific hobby or activity? Will you focus on selling to customers within the immediate area, or will you also target customers from nearby neighborhoods, cities, or states?

Once you’ve identified your target market, you can then niche down and go granular with who, exactly, you’re serving, and what it is they’d be willing to pay for. For example, you can be the only pet store selling all-natural pet food to attract customers that value organic ingredients and healthy living.

Find Your Suppliers

After all that planning, you should have a fairly clear idea as to what you’ll be selling. With this knowledge, you can start finding suppliers for these products.

Ideally, you should look for a reliable supplier that can offer you high-quality products at a price that will ensure a good return on investment. Try to negotiate with them, if you can. You may just convince a supplier to offer you better wholesale prices on their offerings.

Once you receive your product samples, personally inspect each item to make sure that it is, indeed, of excellent quality. You will also have to do a background check on all potential suppliers to find out if they’re reliable and trustworthy. At a minimum, the supplier should be known for using pet-safe materials and humane employment practices.

Lastly, try to look for more than one supplier, if possible. This is to ensure that you can continue to stock up on items even if your first supplier of choice isn’t able to fulfill your orders in a timely fashion.

Once you’ve set the foundations of your business, you need to formalize your pet store as a legal business entity. Generally speaking, the process consists of the following steps:

  1. Register your pet store’s name.
  2. Choose the business structure of your pet store to form its legal entity. Since you’re just starting out, you’ll likely be registering your business as a sole proprietorship, with you as the sole owner and operator.
  3. Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS for taxpaying purposes, especially if you will be employing staff.
  4. Get the licenses and permits required by your state. You’ll also have to make sure that you comply with your state’s specific pet store laws and ordinances.

Keep Your Personal and Pet Store Finances Separate

The last thing you want is to mix up your personal finances with that of your pet store. If you’re not careful, you might accidentally end up spending your pet store’s budget for your personal expenses, leaving you without any budget left to keep your business running!

So, look to open a business account and secure a credit card specifically for your store’s use only. Doing the former ensures asset protection, especially if you register your business as a sole proprietorship. Doing the latter, on the other hand, can help you secure financing for your business with better rates, more flexible terms, and a higher line of credit.

These are just a few parts of the process that you should expect to go through when starting your first ever pet store. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s more than possible as long as you research, plan appropriately, and take action. So, what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than now to pursue this venture and possibly earn a nice profit, all while getting to share your love for pets by serving fur babies and their parents.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!