Starting a Pet Shop Business
by sarahmillican, Community Moderator
- Created: October 28, 2010, 4:52 am
Thinking about opening a pet store? According to the Human Society, 39%
of US households own at least one dog and 33% own at least one cat, so you
might be onto something. But where do
you begin? The following questions and answers may help you decide whether to
take the plunge and open your own pet shop.
How do I know if ;m ready to open my
own pet shop?
One of the best ways to understand what it takes to open your own pet shop
is to spend time working or volunteering in one. Check out a local shop in your
neighborhood to familiarize yourself with the job and all it entails, like
caring for animals and customer service. Even if you plan to hire additional
staff to support store tasks, it will be invaluable for you to experience each
position as you plan to launch your own pet shop.
A love for pets may be driving your passion to launch the store, but
careful attention to regulatory issues and business operations are necessary
How do I get started?
Successfully starting a new business
requires extensive planning and preparation, so begin crafting a business plan
as your first step. Visit Business.gov for free resources, tips, and templates
for writing a business
Once you narrow in on your concept, yo-ll begin to follow the same
basics steps that any business, regardless of industry, does to legally
operate. Read the 10
Steps to Starting Up to better understand and navigate the key
planning, financial and legal decisions involved in starting a business,
including how to pay federal and state taxes, register a business name, market your
business, and choose a business structure.
Next, you will need to focus on the industry-specific requirements for
pet shop owners. The following questions
walk you through some of the key regulatory and practical business issues you
will need to address in your planning.
What type of licensing or permits do I
In addition to the general business
licensing requirements that apply to all businesses, you will need to be aware
of industry-specific rules and regulations that apply to sale of animals.
- Federal regulations: The underlying basis for animal welfare laws in
is the Animal
Welfare Act (AWA), which requires the humane care and treatment of
certain animals sold as pets at the wholesale level, transported in
commerce, and used in research or exhibits. Individuals working under
these circumstances must be licensed or registered by the U.S. Department
of Agricultur-s (USDA) Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Although most retail pet shops are exempt from regulations established in the
Animal Welfare Act, APHIS inspects the wholesale dealers that supply pet
shops. APHIS also regulates
specific business activities that pertain to the sale of animals,
including pet wholesalers, pet breeders, laboratory animal dealers and
breeders, animal brokers, exotic animal dealers, and wild animal
dealers. According to APHIS, any
person participating in regulated business activities, must have a valid Class
A (breeder), Class B (broker), or Class C (exhibitor) license.
If you are unsure if your business activities fall under federal
regulations, you can visit the APHIS website to obtain a license
and registration kit. Based on
the information you supply, the APHIS will decide whether your business
should be licensed, registered, or both.
- State and local
the Animal Welfare Act protects many animals involved in the commercial
pet trade, it does not cover all animals in all situations. Animals sold
in pet stores, owned by individuals, or housed in shelters and pounds are
generally not covered by the Act. However, most state and local
governments have animal protection laws and these laws will typically
apply to retail sellers. Keep in mind that the regulations
pertaining to the sale of animals vary from state to state and may change
over time. To understand your
requirements and responsibilities, check with your Regional
Animal Care Office.
- Other requirements: You may also have to comply with state or federal
standards for the handling, care, and transportation of particular animals. If your business activities are
regulated under the Animal Welfare Act, you can read more about your
requirements in the Act. If your business activities are not
regulated by the AWA, contact your Regional
Animal Care Office for the rules in your area.
How do I
decide where to open my pet shop?
Selecting the right location involves basic considerations like
proximity to customers, ease of access, and leasing and zoning restrictions. It
is also important to remember pet shops can give off lots of noise and
potential odors, so consider the pros and cons of setting up in an independent
space versus a shopping mall.
Visit Business.go's Location and Zoning
Guide to understand the basic legal and regulatory issues yo'll encounter
when selecting a business location. You can also visit your state
economic development agency for assistance on locating commercial office
space and property. The'll also help you understand the financial incentives
and tax credits offered by your local government.
Do I need to have insurance for my pet
Starting a pet shop can become a significant investment; by purchasing
business insurance you are protecting your investment by minimizing the
financial risks associated with unexpected events. Unless you are an employer,
business insurance is generally not required by law, however, it is common
practice to purchase enough insurance to cover your assets and general
liability. Additionally, your state may require insurance of specific business
activities. For more information, read Business.go's guide to buying business insurance.
How do I decide what type of animals to
The location and size of your store will greatly impact the type of
animals yo're able to sell. Consider
doing some market
research to determine if niche breeds or certain types of animals are more
desirable in your area.
you must be licensed as a dealer if you plan to sell wild or exotic animals, or
if you sell regulated animals to other retailers, research institutions,
exhibitors, or other animal dealers. It could alienate customers if your shop
does business with inhumane or socially irresponsible breeders, puppy
mills, wholesalers, etc. Since the laws
vary based on location, it is important to research your suppliers to ensure
they are properly licensed by APHIS.
How much financing do I need?
This depends on heavily on operating costs like employees, rent, and
supplies to care for the pets like cages, food, and necessary medical care. To
make estimating your start-up costs easier, read How
Much Money Do I Need?' A Guide to Estimate Your Startup Expenses on
Business.gov. As the article highlights, you will need to consider both the initial
one-time costs and as well as the monthly on-going costs. You can also utilize
some of the following resources to help you navigate store finance planning:
- Ultimate Guide to Financing. A guide to many business
articles on Business.gov
- SBA.gov | Finance Start-Up. All businesses require
some form of financing. An integral component of starting a successful
business is raising sufficient capital.
- SBA.gov | Start-Up Costs. Calculators and information
on how to accurately estimate your initial and on-going costs.
Starting a business can be an
exciting and challenging adventure. Visit Business.gov for additional training tools and
resources to help you along your way. You can also join the online Community where
entrepreneurs, small business owners, and industry professionals, and
government experts come together to discuss business issues and questions.
About the AuthorI'm a digital strategy consultant with ENC Strategy (www.encstrategy.com) and work full-time to support the Small Business Administration in growing and developing this online community to the best that it can be.
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