Tips for Pet Store Owners

Tips for Pet Store Owners

By Steve Di Orio
Posted in Pet Stores
On May 29, 2015

Pet Blog Gondola Shelving Picture

Pet store ownership can be a very lucrative business endeavor. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $50 billion on their cats, dogs, and other companion animals in 2012. They also report that the number of owned dogs this year was 83.3 million, and cats were at 95.6 million. People love their pets, and they love to pamper them. Whether it’s spending a fortune on a plush new dog bed, grooming services, or the highest quality pet food, people are willing to cough up the funds for their pets.

Competing with the big box pet retailers can be a challenge, so setting your establishment apart from the rest is very important to success.

When you start, consider catering to the two most common pets, cats and dogs. This way, you aren’t stretching yourself so thin with the avalanche of products needed for other companion animals such as rabbits, birds, lizards, fish, etc. Having a more targeted focus will let you get a wide variety of products for these animals and improve your chances of meeting the needs of any cat or dog owner.

If you are running a brick-and-mortar store, consider the layout. You will need pet store shelves in various sizes, from large standard display shelves for holding big bags of pet food to smaller, end cap displays for items like little bags of treats or toys. Pet stores also benefit from gondola accessories like open-end baskets for holding merchandise that is bulky or oddly sized, such as dog bones or larger toys. Aisles should be wide and easy to navigate. People will need space to hoist large items into their carts. Also, consider that many people enjoy bringing their dogs to the pet store while they shop, so they need to navigate the aisles together. Display clear store signs letting shoppers know what goods they can expect to find in each aisle. Finally, be sure to take advantage of pet store displays near the checkout counter. Shoppers love grabbing last-minute items like a fun toy or a special treat.

Now fill those shelves with high-quality merchandise. While it is good to have the most common and popular foods and products on hand, as a smaller, more specialty store, you can also feature some of the more exclusive products that the chains may not carry. Keep seasonality in mind as well, and change up your display shelves to match each season. 

If you can, offer services like grooming. This is a great way to get more people in your store. Plus, while their pet is being groomed, the customer is likely to wander your aisles and fill up their cart.

Hire the best employees and give them extensive training. When it comes to handling people’s pets, you do not want someone with a blasé attitude. They should be passionate animal lovers that genuinely care about helping customers find the best products for their companions. They should be trained on the products that you sell and new trends in the industry. It is also important they keep the store as clean as possible. Having clean-up stations in the aisles can help store tidiness, but employees should always be on the lookout for spills and accidents and get those cleaned up right away.

Once you have established yourself as a great resource in the pet industry, consider selling supplies for more exotic animals if you desire. Just remember that people’s pets are an extension of their family, and they should be offered the best food, products, services, and customer service possible for your store to be successful.

Steve Di Orio

Steve Di Orio


Steve has been with Handy Store Fixtures for over 15 years. After becoming the Marketing Manager in 2006, he was named Director of Marketing. Steven earned his MBA from Montclair State University with a specialization in Digital Marketing in 2019. When not at work, he loves to travel, play golf, exercise, and talk all things search engine marketing and retail display tips.