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How to Open a Pet Store in 6 Simple Steps

How to Open a Pet Store in 6 Simple Steps

Nearly one in five Americans and three in 10 Canadians adopted a pet during the pandemic. Now that pets are in 70% of U.S. households and 55% of Canadian households, there’s no better time to explore how to open a pet store. With the average dog owner spending $1,480 and cat owners spending $902 annually on basic expenses, the market for pet supplies is larger than ever.

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How to open a pet store

Follow these six steps to learn how to open a pet store.

1. Write a business plan and find funding

The first step in learning how to open a pet store is figuring out the financial side of the business. That begins with writing a business plan and fundraising. 

Business plan

Writing a business plan is a critical part of starting a successful retail business. Think of a retail business plan as a blueprint for your pet supply store. It gives you, your business partners and investors an overview of the direction in which you want to take the shop and how you’re going to get there. A business plan typically includes overviews of your company, the market, your marketing plan, operations and finances.


Next, you need to obtain funding for your pet store. Self funding (using your savings), asking friends and family to invest, taking out a business loan and working with investors are popular small business funding options. Banks, investors and your loved ones will likely ask to see your business plan to understand what they are backing.

2. Choose a location and design your pet store

A great location can help your business attract customers, while a well-planned store layout can give customers a seamless shopping experience that influences them to spend more. 


Finding the right location is critical to the success of your pet store. A location with lots of foot or car traffic will cost you more, but you’ll need to spend less on marketing to get customers in the door. A less desirable location will cost less to rent, but you’ll need to spend more on marketing to attract customers.

Walk around the neighborhoods where you’re considering putting your shop to see how many pet owners live nearby. If you see cats lounging in windows and lots of people walking dogs, you’ve hit the jackpot. 

Another strategy for independent pet shops is to place them near other locales that pet owners frequent, like dog parks, vets’ offices, pet daycares, dog salons or adoption shelters. Pet owners will inevitably stop by your store on their way to or from these complementary destinations.

Visual merchandising

Design an intuitive layout for your retail space to create a seamless shopping experience for customers and their furry friends. It goes without saying that you should let pets into your store. Just like how grocery stores display kid-friendly cereals on the lower shelves—within children’s field of vision—place treats and toys that dogs will love towards the ground.

Make captivating window displays and switch them out often to indicate you have new products in stock. If you’re selling small pets or putting cats and dogs for adoption at your store, consider placing them near your windows to attract passersby who won’t be able to resist. 

3. Find vendors and manage inventory

What’s next? Identifying reliable suppliers from whom to order products and creating a system for managing your stock.


There are lots of strategies for finding suppliers for your pet store. Ask for recommendations from fellow business owners, conduct an online search, attend trade shows and request wholesale catalogs

After you’ve rounded up an initial list of suppliers, vet them. With current supply chain shortages, it’s critical to work with vendors who are proactive about problem solving and are communicative.

Pay attention to how responsive they are to your initial communications, as this will be indicative of when they’ll get back to you when you’re a customer. Ask to speak to current clients and ask them questions about what the supplier is like to work with.

Inventory management

Before you manage your inventory, you need to select which products you’ll carry in your pet supply store. Do research on what kinds of pets are popular in your area and purchase supplies for those kinds of animals. Stock up on necessities like food, pet furniture and collars. You should also carry popular discretional items, like toys, accessories and costumes.

Develop a sophisticated inventory system to ensure your stock is moving off the shelves instead of sitting for months. Look for inventory management software that integrates with your pet store’s POS to ensure stock levels are always accurate. This tool is especially important if you’re planning on selling online, too. 

Pay attention to your analytics during your first few months in business to understand how much and when to reorder inventory.

4. Plan your grand opening and ongoing marketing

After you’ve sorted out your financials, found the perfect location, and ordered inventory, you’re ready to think about marketing. In addition to developing a strategy for ongoing marketing activities, plan a grand opening to put your pet store on the map.

Grand opening

A grand opening event can create buzz for your new business. Invite friends, family, media, influencers and local pet owners. Ask guests to sign up for your newsletter in exchange for admission to the event so you can stay top of mind long after opening day.

Create photo opportunities so guests can promote your store on social media. Give away samples and coupons to give customers a taste of what they need to come back for. And, don’t forget to take photos and record videos of the event to use in your marketing materials. 

Ongoing marketing

Marketing needs to be a regular, ongoing activity. If you don’t have a lot of time to post to social media or send out newsletters, look for marketing automation tools to kick off your efforts.

Segment your email list by pet type to send customers targeted offers based on what kind of animal they have. Also send automated emails to customers you haven’t seen in a while to stay top of mind. 

Have fun with social media. Post Instagram Stories of pets that visit your shop and new arrivals. Consider creating a TikTok account to share educational content about pet ownership and your products. 

5. Hire staff and manage general operations

Pets and people are at the heart of your business. Hire the right employees to make your two- and four-legged customers happy.


Creating an org chart is part of writing a business plan. Use this org chart to guide you towards the roles you need to hire and when you need to hire them. Start with a manager and a sales associate.

The labor shortage has made it challenging to find the right people and make them stay. Find people who are qualified and whose values match yours. Look for animal lovers with retail and pet-owning experience. Then, develop a good training program to set your employees up for success, and offer competitive wages and benefits to ensure they stick around for the long haul.


Hiring is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to operations. Work with an HR professional to ensure labor law compliance and to develop competitive benefits. Next, create an employee handbook and programs for onboarding and professional development.

Build a strong company culture by treating your employees right and rewarding them for their hard work. Create sales competitions to incentivize performance and make your top performers feel appreciated.

6. Choose the right technology for your pet store

Technology can help your business run more smoothly. The right tools will give you access to critical insights about your pet store that can help you reach the right decisions faster. They can also automate repetitive tasks.

Look into the following solutions as you learn how to open a pet supply store:


The cost to open a pet store

So, just how much cash will you need to open the pet supply shop of your dreams? Costs will vary greatly depending on your location, market, and size of your store. 

According to Bizfluent, you’ll need between $30,000 and $175,000 for building out your retail space after you lease or buy it, $10,000 for technology, between $20,000 and $60,000 for displays and other retail store supplies and between $30,000 and $70,000 for starting inventory. That makes the total cost to open a pet store between $90,000 and $315,000. 


Wrapping up: How to open a pet supply store in 6 steps

With pet ownership at record highs because of the pandemic, there’s no better time to open a pet store. As you go into business, you’ll need to consider your financial situation, find the perfect location and create a sensible store layout, find suppliers, plan a grand opening and ongoing marketing, hire the right people, and choose technology that will make running your pet store easier.

Lightspeed POS integrates with all the critical retail technologies you need to open and manage your pet store. Watch a demo today to get started.

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More of this topic: Starting a Business