You love taking care of pets. Is it a reason good enough to start your own pet shop? Of course not. Multiple scenarios need to be analyzed when you think of starting a business. And at the primary stage, knowing both good and bad things about the business is immensely helpful. That way, you can be realistic while expecting an outcome.
The main advantage of having a pet shop is that it’s flexible and highly rewarding. You will see a steady monthly income if you can do it right. But one major problem is high competition in the industry.
The competition wouldn’t be a problem if you knew how to carve a niche within the crowded pet industry. But before that, let’s review some pros and cons of owning a pet shop.
7 Advantages Of Owning A Pet Shop
1. Doesn’t Need Lots Of Investment
A pet store is one of the low-budget ventures you can undertake. If you have a backyard and enough experience with pets, you can start without any money. All you need is a website or social media posts mentioning the type of pets you own. People usually don’t like going to a pet shop and adopting a puppy.
You have an advantage already if you know how to engage an audience. Regularly post pictures and interesting facts about the pet. This is the best way to attract potential buyers.
2. Emotionally Rewarding
Very few jobs in this world will be as emotionally rewarding as owning a pet store. You are not selling merchandise. You are providing companions to lonely individuals. Your pets will become someone’s family. It’s a joy to see someone connect with an animal and let you see their soft side.
Moreover, it can be a little sad to say goodbye to the animals you grew attached to. It’s a roller coaster ride every day. Plus, if you have a core love for animals, you are going to love the daily play and activity sessions.
3. Highly Scalable
Contrary to many people’s belief, a pet business is highly scalable. You are not limited to only keeping pets. You can use one portion of the store to sell pet accessories, pet food, toys, books on how to take care of a pet, and so on. Even if a customer doesn’t get a new animal from your shop, they might like the new section and give you sales.
Also, if a dog doesn’t get adopted, you can still earn through it. There are lots of animal-assisted therapy clinics that require safe pets for the patients. You can contact such clinics. That way, you are still earning without selling a pet.
The global pet care market has grown to $261 billion in 2022, up from $245 billion in 2021. (Source)
4. Contribution To A Good Cause
We know pet shops that don’t get animals from any supplier. Instead, they choose to rescue animals on the streets needing help. The rescuing process itself adds a new meaning to your life.
Some street animals face a lot of violence and become emotionally distant. But thanks to you, they get to stay in a safe environment. Nothing feels more rewarding than this. Another aspect is running an animal-assisted therapy center. Such programs help depressed, lonely, or old individuals by healing their emotional scars through animals. You will see an old man smile after playing with a naughty puppy.
It feels good to invest your money & time into such life changing cause. This will definitely be the highlight of your career.
5. Flexible Job
A pet shop owner doesn’t spend daily hours in the physical store. There’s no “manufacturing” or “sales” to look after. You don’t have to visit the shop regularly if you have a caretaker. Most people who visit the shop ask questions about different breeds and the cost of adoption. It’s very rare for someone to adopt a pet spontaneously. That means you will be in contact with potential buyers through calls or texts before they actually settle on an animal.
It gives you the freedom to pursue other dreams you have, unlike a soul-sucking corporate job.
6. No Bargain For Pets
Pets don’t have fixed prices. It depends on how much you have spent on the animal & its availability. Plus, adopting a pet is more emotional than financial. That’s why you will hardly see anyone bargaining once they truly like a pet. That’s a huge plus point of pet business. That’s the same case for other pet-related products as well. Reportedly, you can keep a 40% margin on any pet item, and the customer would still be happy to pay.
7. No Need To Pursue Customers
Pursuing the customers is a must when you try to sell a normal product. You have to establish your product as something useful. But you don’t have to do so with pets. People don’t look for usefulness or value for money. Most people consider pets a part of their families. So, the job is done if they like a pet from your store.
You don’t have to pursue the customers to finalize the adoption. Most of the time, it’s the customers who will go beyond their means to bring a puppy or kitten (or any pet) home.
7 Disadvantages Of Owning A Pet Shop
1. Difficult To Gain Your Customer’s Trust
Gaining customer’s trust is the most crucial element in any business. Otherwise, you might make some sales but can’t count on your customer’s loyalty. However, it is even more difficult for pet shop owners. There is a common notion that every pet shop gets animals from unethical suppliers.
For example, animal lovers have been protesting against puppy millers for years. Unethical suppliers or millers keep the animals inside unhygienic & crapped boxes. They try to breed these animals and sell the babies for a high price. It has been reported that these “mills” have extremely inhumane living conditions. Sometimes, the poor animals don’t even get fed regularly.
Historically, pet shops have always collected puppies or kittens (even exotic animals) from these “mills.” That’s why some of the anger has also been directed towards pet shops. That means you will also be under such suspicion once you open a pet shop.
It will be very difficult for you to gain the trust back.
What Do We Suggest?
Make sure you choose your supplier wisely. And be as transparent as you can be with the potential buyer. Tell them how you got the animals. You won’t have many believers at first. But once you start making sales, more people will come through referrals.
2. You Can’t Preserve Pets Like Commodities
You can easily preserve and store commodities. If a product gets damaged, you just have to worry about that particular one. But with pets, it’s a completely different story. One sick puppy in the cell is enough to infect others. Moreover, new animals carry zoonotic diseases most of the time. It’s true for pet fish as well. If one fish in the tank has parasites in its body, all of its tankmates will be infected pretty soon.
Even if you make separate cells for the animals, you might have to bring them out for walks or playing sessions. Diseases can spread during that time, too. You can never be too careful with the animals. And, once it happens, your vet fees for that month hike up in an unprecedented way. Moreover, insurance companies don’t cover costs for such incidents. Your entire pet shop can be in danger if you fail to manage the situation.
What Do We Suggest?
We suggest you keep a portion of monthly revenue for such health emergencies. Also, take your pets for regular health check-ups. Make it mandatory for yourself. Moreover, don’t believe the supplier 100%. Even if the new animal looks healthy, keep it in a separate cell for a while.
3. Overhead Cost Is Never The Same For Pets
Unlike a manufacturing business, you can’t put an overhead cost on every pet. Some are going to high maintenance. They will consume most of your monthly budget until someone adopts them. So, you can never calculate how many pets you should sell each month to stay in a safe zone. For example, selling some chihuahuas is not going to cover the maintenance cost of an Afghan Hound, Border Collie, or Belgian Malinois.
What Do We Suggest?
Stop taking your monthly revenue and maintenance costs too seriously. Just focus on attracting customers. Some months will be rough. But you can surely charge a high price for the high-maintenance breeds (like Sphynx, Russian blue, and Persian cats). So, by the end of the year, you will be in the profit zone on average. That’s how the business works.
4. Struggle To Hire Experienced Staff
It’s a nightmare to hire inexperienced staff for the pet shop. Sometimes, we can’t afford to pay a good salary when we are just starting. That’s why we end up hiring anybody willing to work within the salary range. But that’s a big mistake. Soon, you learn it in the hard way.
Pets are living beings and need to be handled as such. Without prior experience, it’s hard for anyone to cater to the animal’s needs. The staff might be unwilling to go beyond feeding and bathing the poor babies. Plus, they might not understand the animals’ individual personalities. That’s a huge turn-off for potential customers who are visiting the shop.
Knowing all of these issues might not help because of a low budget. Fields requiring highly skilled workers are not ideal for a low-budget start-up.
What Do We Suggest?
We think it would be better if you can do the job yourself. If the shop is small, you wouldn’t have a problem taking care of all the animals with a little help from someone. But ensure the crucial tasks involving the pet’s health are performed under your supervision. Also, try to entertain the visitors yourself. Your knowledge and passion for the shop will surely make a good mark.
In 2022, $136.8 billion was spent on pets in the U.S. (Source)
5. Extremely Difficult To Beat Competition
Pet shops are not something “new.” You know what we mean. Such businesses have existed for a long time. We are sure you will find multiple pet shops in your neighborhood only(no matter where it is). That’s a good thing for pet lovers. But not for you.
It means the field is highly competitive. Buying a cat/dog is different than buying clothes. People need new clothes quite frequently. However, once a family gets a new pet, they don’t look for a new one for at least a few years. That means your potential customer segment is very low.
If you want to make a profit, your business plan can’t follow the traditional pet shop format.
What Do We Suggest?
Try to carve a niche for yourself. For example, focus on keeping various exotic pets like reptiles or birds. Or, you can focus on improving your shop’s online presence (more than the competitors). That way, you can target buyers who don’t live in the community.
6. It’s No Work Or Lots Of Work
Once you have hired staff and entered a contract with your supplier, there’s nothing much to do. Except for investigating whether the sales are rising or not, how the staff interacts with the animals, you are pretty much free. If you have no other job, after one or two years, your job will get really boring. Of course, it’s not true if you love spending time with animals. But in real life, very few owners spend the entire day at the shop.
It can be a completely different scenario as well. If you don’t hire staff, you would have to spend the entire day preparing and offering food to the pets (at a pre-set schedule). But even in that case, you don’t get to enjoy much, considering all the hassle.
What Do We Suggest?
Hiring an adequate number of employees is good for your business. But you shouldn’t leave everything to them. Try to do the sales part or the accounting part yourself. That will allow you to closely watch over the shop’s condition without being too nosy or oblivious.
By the end of 2017, 2.1 million pets in North America were insured, equating to $1.2 billion in combined gross premiums. (Source)
7. Risk Of Getting Sued
If you sell a pet that is not vaccinated against deadly diseases, the owners can sue you. Some shops ask the buyers to do the check-up and vaccination. But you will be in trouble if it is your duty according to the contract. Another problem is selling a traumatized or aggressive animal without giving a heads-up. Such misinformation can put the owner’s life in danger.
For example, someone adopted a dog thinking it was fully domesticated. However, one week later, you get a call where the new parent is complaining about how the dog attacks his kids and seems mentally challenged. Such complaints can damage your reputation in a day.
What Do We Suggest?
Don’t hide anything if someone shows interest in adopting a pet. Tell them both the good and bad characteristics of the pet. Suppose you get a street dog and fail to train it to be a family dog. Don’t put it up for adoption. Not every dog you pick from the streets is looking for a home. Some will show aggressive behavior and try to escape constantly. You just have to accept it.
Global Pet Industry Trends & Statistics Infographic
Want to get a printable version of this infographic? Click here! [If you want to use this infographic on your website, please link back to this post as the source!]
Is It A Good Idea To Start A Pet Shop Or Not?
Now that you have seen both the good & bad side, let’s give our opinion. We believe a pet shop has really high potential. More than that, there are ample opportunities for you to mold the business according to your preferences. As we have said earlier, try to keep pet accessories and other pet-related items as well.
Don’t depend entirely on selling pets. Currently, the trend is adopting street animals. People don’t like walking into a store just to buy pets. It would be better if you had multiple income sources. Plus, insure your pets as soon as possible. That way, some of your investment in a pet will be safeguarded. Keep in mind that older pets have a hard time securing insurance.
And, lastly, it’s your call. We believe you already know it in your heart. Best of luck!
Before You Leave!!
It’s totally understandable if you think all the “cons” will be too hard to manage. In that case, we suggest you start a pet business without involving live pets. Yes, it’s a thing & very profitable as well. Check out our article explaining such unusual pet business ideas. Hope you will like something.
Article link: Unusual pet business ideas to inspire you.