How to Start an All Natural Pet Store

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Opening a natural pet food store, online or in your neighborhood, can be both profitable and fun. You can sell a variety of products for common household pets like dogs and cats to more exotic pets like lizards and fish. In addition to selling natural pet food, you can also sell pet treats, pet supplies, books and animal training supplies. Creating customer loyalty is important in order to run a long-term, successful business, as there are many websites and stores devoted to pet food and supplies.

Things You'll Need

  • Business plan
  • Business insurance
  • Business license
  • Web host
  • Website
  • Merchant account
  • Natural pet food products
  • Capital
  • Lease retail space in a pet friendly neighborhood. Neighborhoods with dog parks, veterinary clinics or hospitals and neighborhoods that sponsor pet-friendly events provide an easier way to build customer loyalty than neighborhoods without many pet lovers. Neighborhoods with one or more pet supply stores increase competition and may make it difficult for you to establish a profitable natural pet food business.

  • Sell natural pet food products online by creating a website and opening a merchant account that allows you to accept credit card payments. Many web hosting companies offer website packages that include merchant account options. Create an online store to supplement sales of your retail location or sell products solely online.

  • Register your natural pet food store with the IRS to obtain an EIN (Employee Identification Number) for tax filing purposes. Contact your local chamber of commerce or small business office to learn about business licensing for retail stores. Ask if you also need a business license to run an online store.

  • Research natural pet food companies and contact those that supply the types of natural food (cat food, dog food, exotic pet food) you want to sell. If setting up an online store with limited space in your home or office to store inventory, ask pet food companies to participate in drop-shipping (sending products directly to customers after you forward the order and collect payment).

  • Create a business plan that outlines how you plan to organize your business and how much you expect to earn for the year. Include expenses for inventory, employees, website costs, insurance, marketing costs and overhead (electricity, maintenance and rent). Overall costs will be lower if opening a store online. If planning to apply for a small business loan, a solid business plan increases your chances for obtaining the loan.

Tips & Warnings

  • Research business insurance options. To obtain a business license, you may need to purchase general liability insurance which covers employee or customer injury when inside your store. This insurance also covers employees while driving company vehicles or lawsuits resulting from the death of pets that are linked to pet food.
  • Carefully research natural pet food companies before considering doing business with them. Make sure they manufacture safe pet food that complies with FDA standards. While pet food companies do not have to be approved by the FDA to sell pet food, doing business with unethical companies can result in illness or death or pets, lawsuits and can ruin customer loyalty. Visit FDA.gov for more information.

References

  • Photo Credit Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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