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How to Start a Pet Boutique

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How to Start a Pet Boutique

Image by M.H. Kramer

M.H. Kramer

Pet boutiques, part of the 50 billion dollar per year pet industry, provide high quality products to pet owners.

Gain Experience

Prior employment in an animal related field is always beneficial when starting a pet boutique business. Experience in retail sales, especially as a pet product sales representative, will prove particularly useful.

If you have never worked in a retail pet sales environment it would be wise to find a part or full time position with an established business to learn the ins and outs of the industry. There is no substitute for hands on experience.

Business Considerations

Before opening your pet boutique you must take into account various business and legal considerations. You should consult your accountant regarding the advantages and disadvantages of forming your business as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or other entity.

You should also contact your local government with regard to any permits or licenses that could be necessary for your business. Obtaining an insurance policy should also be on the planning checklist.

Choose a Location

You have to determine whether you will offer your products online via a web site or thorough a brick and mortar retail location. A web based store has a much lower start up cost. A retail store offers additional exposure and customer traffic, but will obviously involve added costs for rent, employee salaries, and insurance. Many boutiques offer both online and retail shopping options.

Name Your Business

Your pet boutique business should have a name that makes it stand out from the crowd and especially “big box” chain pet stores. Emphasis should be placed on the unique, high quality goods and services that you can provide through your boutique location.

Select Your Products

A pet boutique can carry a wide assortment of products and pet care items. Some boutiques specialize in creating customized items. Such services could include letting customers choose their own materials and design for custom pet bedding, or engraving pet identification tags and collar nameplates. Handmade local leather goods, such as collars and leashes, are often popular purchases for pet owners.

Generally the inventory of a pet boutique can include pet care supplies, clothing, bedding, travel carriers, a variety of toys and treats, and gift baskets. Some boutiques also operate a pet bakery and create all-natural gourmet treats.

Animal themed human apparel may also be of interest to consumers, especially to those owners who are fans of a particular breed. Breed specific items can be hot sellers, so it is wise to keep items relating to the popular breeds in stock.

Marketing Strategies

There are many way to advertise your pet boutique. It is always a good idea to try to align your boutique with upscale women’s clothing boutiques, interior design studios, and other high end shops. You can approach these high end venues and ask if you can leave your business card or even develop a reciprocal advertising venture between your businesses.

Other venues where you can advertise your pet boutique may include veterinary clinics, dog grooming shops, doggie day care businesses, supermarkets, retail shopping centers, and office complexes. Events like dog shows and pet industry expos are also excellent places to set up a booth to offer samples and demonstrations of products.

Additional advertising options include placing an ad in the phone directory, creating a personalized web page, or taking advantage of advertising opportunities with local media outlets. If you create a web site be sure to allow your customers to subscribe to a mailing list for a weekly or monthly newsletter featuring special offers, events, and coupons.

Another idea to gain exposure is donating gift baskets to charity events and fundraisers. You can include your business card and logo to advertise your pet boutique while helping a good cause.

Over time word of mouth will become an excellent source of customer traffic.

Price Your Products

The most effective way to price your product line is to investigate what your competitors charge for similar items. You can gain a great deal of knowledge by searching online and visiting shops in your local area. Be sure to price your products competitively.

Business Outlook

According to the Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA), the pet product industry draws in 50 billion dollars a year. The APPMA estimates that there are 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats kept as pets, and that number is expected to increase each year.

Pet boutique businesses should show continued growth as pet owners have steadily increased spending on their animals each year according to the APPMA research studies.

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