How To Open a Pet Shop in 4 Simple Steps

by Brad Tanner | May 1, 2024

You love working with pets and animals. And over the last couple of years, your side hustle raising a colony of dubias to feed your bearded dragon and sell to a few friends has gone well — and it’s made you enough money to think about pursuing a career in the pet industry.

Luckily, the pet industry is big business. In 2022, the typical American household spent $741 on their pets. As of 2023, the pet industry has grown to $147 billion and is expected to double by 2030.

But you’ve said to yourself hundreds of times, “I don’t know how to open a pet shop.” Now, you need to know how to get started.

In this blog, we show you what you need to know to open a pet shop and turn your passion into a fulfilling career.

How To Open a Pet Shop: 4 Steps

Here are four simple steps to follow to open a pet shop.

1. Do Your Research

Preparing to open your business pays off in big ways — every bit of research and planning you do will help you make the best decisions and avoid time-consuming setbacks. Let’s look at a few of the most important decisions you can prepare for.

Conduct Market Research

Conducting market research provides valuable insights into the feasibility of turning your business idea into a successful venture. By gathering information about potential customers and analyzing existing businesses in your area, you can identify potential opportunities and competitive advantages for your business.

Write a Business Plan

A business plan serves as the cornerstone of your entrepreneurial endeavor. It functions as a comprehensive roadmap guiding your business' structuring, operations, and growth trajectory. This plan is instrumental in persuading potential partners and investors about the viability and potential success of your venture, reinforcing the decision to work together or provide financial support.

Decide on Your Pet Shop Product Mix

Pet shops succeed based on their ability to consistently sell products and services. Regularly evaluating the products you offer and adjusting to meet the demands of your customers gives you the best opportunity to be financially successful. Let’s look at four simple steps to figure out your product mix.

  • Analyze your customer: Begin by understanding your customers' needs, preferences, and behaviors. Gather customer data through surveys, feedback forms, loyalty programs, or social media analytics.
  • Understand the competition: Study your competitors' products and strategies. Analyze their strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning.
  • Evaluate current offerings: Assess the products and services you plan to offer based on market performance, profitability, and potential. Use metrics like sales volume, revenue, margin, turnover, or customer satisfaction to evaluate each product's success.
  • Optimize product mix: Determine the ideal range and variety of products within each category. Aim to offer enough choices to meet customers' needs without overwhelming them or increasing costs.

Related Read: ABC Analysis for Pet Stores: Categorizing Inventory for Efficiency

Secure Funding

Because every business is unique and has its own set of financial requirements, it’s important to tailor your financial structure to your needs when opening your pet shop. The future of your business is influenced by your personal financial situation and long-term goals. As soon as you’ve determined how much startup capital you need, your next step is to determine how to acquire it. Here are three models for funding your pet shop.

  • Self-funding: Sometimes referred to as bootstrapping, this funding comes from your financial resources. This may also include close friends or family, but funding your business this way gives you the most control of your business decisions.
  • Investor: You may be able to find an individual to invest in your pet shop in exchange for a portion of ownership of your business. Additionally, crowdfunding has become a more popular way for large groups to fund your startup business.
  • Loan: Consider a small business loan if you want control of your business, but do not have the financial resources yourself.

After you’ve done your research, it’s time to decide where and how to open your pet shop.

2. Decide Where To Open Your Pet Shop

One of the most important decisions you make as you open your pet shop is its location and how you present yourself to your customers.


The location of your business should be determined by several factors, including proximity to your target market, business partners, and personal preferences. It’s also important to evaluate the costs, benefits, and limitations imposed by various government agencies when choosing a location.

You need to consider region-specific business expenses and wage limits, local zoning ordinances, state and local taxes, state and local government incentives, and federal government incentives when evaluating locations to open your pet shop.

Shop Layout

For an optimal layout of your pet shop, products can be grouped strategically. Popular products like food and litter can be placed in a prominent area, while medication, pet care products, accessories, and toys can be grouped in others.


A strong combination of a catchy business name, a visually appealing logo, and a memorable identity can be instrumental in drawing potential customers and boosting sales. Before finalizing your choices, it's important to thoroughly conduct research and gather feedback from your target audience to ensure your choices resonate and leave a lasting impression.

When you’ve decided on your pet shop branding, it’s time to legally protect your pet shop.

3. Register Your Pet Shop and Apply for Licenses

No pet shop owner wants to run afoul of the law. When starting your business, it’s important to figure out what licenses and permits you need. These are some of the laws you may need to comply with in your state.

Register Your Business

After choosing the ideal business name, the next important step is to make it legally recognized and protect your brand. If you’re going to operate under a name that differs from your personal name, you need to register with the appropriate government agency. Depending on the state, you may also need to register with your state government.

Decide on Your Business Type

Starting a business involves choosing the right legal structure. You need to understand the different options and make the best choice for your company. You may need to hire a lawyer to check the availability of your desired business name and file all the necessary paperwork. 

Three common business structures include a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. The key difference between a sole proprietorship and an LLC or corporation is personal liability protection. In an LLC or corporation, the owners are not personally liable for business debts or liabilities. In a sole proprietorship, the owner is personally liable.

Additionally, some pet shops choose to operate — "doing business as" (DBA) — a name other than the legal business name. This allows you to operate under a different business name without creating a separate legal entity.

Get Federal and State Tax IDs

When starting and growing your business, you will utilize your employer identification number (EIN) for crucial tasks such as opening a bank account and paying taxes. Your EIN is the business equivalent of a social security number. While not all states require it, some do, so it's important to find out the requirements in your state.

Apply for Licenses and Permits

To maintain legal compliance and ensure the smooth operation of your business, it's essential to obtain the appropriate licenses and permits. The specific legal requirements for your business may vary depending on your industry, state or region, and other relevant factors.

With all of your documents in order, let’s explore how to set yourself up for success.

4. Assemble Your Pet Shop Business Processes

The modern pet shop depends on a collection of software to run smoothly and efficiently. Having the right tools at your fingertips positions you for success. These are just some of the tools you may choose to use:

Managing a successful business requires software to monitor every aspect of your business and a unified system can help save you from errors and extra data entry.

How To Open a Pet Shop: Next Steps

Now it’s time to dive in and get to work. Start a folder for gathering the information you need to get started.

But you don’t need to do it alone. From the Small Business Administration to your bank to software providers, there are many experts ready to help you open your pet shop.

A good place to start is with an expert at the center of your pet shop operations. Talk to an industry expert at eTailpet to customize a system to organize your pet shop, make connections with vendors, get your e-commerce solution online, and market to your customers. Request a demo today!

Want to learn more about eTailPet? Schedule a demo.