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Hoping to set up shop

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Nov 30, 2022
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Looking to set up a shop I live on an island in the UK and the best choice we have is pets at home start up is so expensive any advice would be welcome are there any companies that would help ?
Looking to set up a shop I live on an island in the UK and the best choice we have is pets at home start up is so expensive any advice would be welcome are there any companies that would help ?
Good day Jiff101. I am a little confused with your question. Are you asking for assistance on how to open a retail pet shop or setting up a fish room for your personal use in your home?
Good day Jiff101. I am a little confused with your question. Are you asking for assistance on how to open a retail pet shop or setting up a fish room for your personal use in your home?
I want to set up a shop i have done various rooms but the misses has ended that and said it's a house not a tropical rainforest long term fish keeper here with 20+ years of DIY in the hobby I make my own filters lights resealed tanks currently have a 450L completely DIY with planter filters


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Oh yeah, I fully understand not turning the house into a rainforest! Your tank is gorgeous. I have never owned a pet shop. I wrote for the tropical fish industry for many years and have known many 'mom and pop' pet shop owners and can say for certain, you would be wise to do a market survey. Will this be your sole source of income? Do you have a large cash reserve to dedicate to the business? I saw some tremendous success and sadly, some dismal failures over the years. Many of those who failed did so by trying to turn a hobby into a business. They are not the same. Another common link for failure was underfunding and failure to properly analyze the market. Are there any organizations you can contact to assist you with a survey? If not, I suggest you contact an institution of higher learning such as a university. A university might have a business department that will help small business. You might find a graduate student to assist you.
If someone near you was looking for what you want to sell, what would be the first thing they do? Probably look online. Get yourself set up with a website and work on the SEO (search engine optimization) so you will show up towards the top of a search. You can do your own using website building companies, or you can hire someone to do your SEO.

Then determine if you are going to sell online and if so, make sure you have that feature to “shop” on your website. Companies like “Wix” make it easy to set up a website and include a shopping feature.

If you plan to ship live fish, check with your local shipping options to find out if any special certifications or permits are needed.

How are you going to promote and market your business? Can you do it locally with social media? Are you going to advertise with a local mailer? Will you make a flier and put it up on a bulletin board at another business that promotes local business owners?

Get yourself some business cards and attend local aquarium club events and pass your cards out. Anywhere you see other businesses leaving their business cards, put yours there too.

Make sure you ask everyone who does business with you how they found you so you can keep track of what marketing options are working.

Perhaps buy some company t-shirts and wear them everywhere (out to eat, at local festivals, when you take a walk downtown, etc.). The more people see your company name or logo, that will build familiarity. Then when they go looking for what you’re selling, they see your logo or company name and already feel familiar with it subconsciously. So just because nobody tells you they say your ad in a local mailer, that doesn’t mean the mailer didn’t stick with them subconsciously so when they saw your website they already felt familiar. They might tell you they found you on an online search. So all forms of marketing can be effective as a combination. I hope I am explaining that clearly.

Good for you, and best of luck!
The only specialty tropical fish shops I've ever seen that lasted more than five years ran out of people's basements. Have it run on an appointment only basis. Your customers will be the same few people. Specialize in one particular fish done very well , like Angelfish , and have a few oddballs for interest.
If you are on an island, then your walk-in business is very limited. To make any money you will have to get most of it from shopping fosh to the mainland. Instead of a store which is expencsive, consider another build on your property. Even if you have to buy something pre-fabbed. All you need is water, elec and drainage. See what that would cost to do.

Then you can sell from there. Allow appoointments but limit then to avoid running afoul of sellingretail from a residence issue.

While this may cost moore up from it has advantages. Your fish space can be another kind of space for a new owner when you finally move elsewhere, so it is an asset. You can also use it for something else should you meave fish keeping. Your wife will be very happy you only have one maybe two display tanks in the house :)

Also, you space becomes a way to get out of the house ;).

I am in the states and a few years into the hobby I really wanted a fish store. I was even able to be happy doing it never earning a penny as long as it did not cost me money. 21 years later and I never opened that store. I have managed to pay all my hobby costs from home breeding a few rarer small catfish. The most tanks ever running at one time has been under 30 and that included summer tanks (4-8) effectively outdoors. So they were only up for about 5 months or a bit less.

Fish keeping is a lot of fun. We spend what we can afford on it. Running a store means when things go south filing for bankruptcy may be the final result. Be careful, know how much you can afford to lose and consider working your way up to a store rather than starting there.
I hope I didn't 'rain on your parade' by suggesting first doing a business plan with a market survey etc.! I would suggest before spending any money to first identify your goals in writing. That first step is essential. I'm going back to my Business 101 class here :)
Identify your goals, develop a business plan, do a market survey (know the industry...competition etc.), finances, regulations and so on. One thing I strongly suggest is seeking advice from those who 'know the ropes' in the business world especially the pet trade. You might also start a new post on this site. Call it something like, 'Seeking advice from current pet shop owners and former pet shop owners.' I bet this site has plenty of members with first-hand experience. Responses such as, "I have a friend of a friend who knows some guy who had a shop" can be discarded. Just communicate with those who have actual experience. I bet there is a wealth of business knowledge on this site.
Actually, I have know folks who owned shops but many more who sell online. You also meet a lot of these folks a weekend fish events in the vendor room or doing room sales.

Archer is right about researching everything. Also there is a big difference between a pet shop and a fish store. I live in a somewhat affluent area. It is also fairly densely populated. When I started my first tank in Jan 2001 there was one LFS and two pet shops which sold fish. Today the LF is all SW and bot pet stores are close.

Since then A PetCo opened up. Poor selection of overpriced haed goods and not great fish. I have never bought anything besides tanks there. They do not trhive from their fish, their dog training/grooming and other pets stuff makes them their big money. But they are a national chain not a sole owner shop.

I sell that fuish I breed though other vendors. One of these recently decided to open a store. i have not heard from him in months. Surviving takes up all his time.
Best of luck in your business endeavor.
Your unique tank setup looks top notch. I hope to see you enter that tank in our February Tank of the Month contest which will be for tanks sized at 31 US gallons and larger.
Why not try first an online shop before you will start an actual store? With an online shop, you've got less risks and less investment. This way you can see how profitable a business can be or won't be.
There are a lot of people who started to set up a store and couldn't survive long term. Do some research beforehand to see how the market works and is. And don't forget that management takes a lot of time as well. Can you do the financial and time investment that is still acceptable for you?
I have thought of setting up a store for years as well but with the already existing relevant stores in my neighborhood, there is no chance to survive. And I'm considering the stores who have tried and which are now gone. So, I've started to participate relevant vivaristic events and offered my fish and other products overthere. Which has worked perfectly for me thusfar. It's a good thing to look for alternatives that will enable you to offer your fish and maybe other goods before you start a real store. Of course, my blessings if you're gonna start a store.
the money involved in setting up an online store can be a few thousand alone...
to have someone make you a website that takes paypal so you don't get charged from a 2nd party for using their system on top of a paypal percentage
and if its your paypal you can file disputes yourself VS the system you used saying there was an issue with payment and you simply lose the money and fish because they were shipped already
then the fish you keep might not be what people want...
people want pretty fish...that means saltwater with lots of colors....and freshwater guppies..shrimp and plecos..the bigger the fins the better
you're also not there to offer advice on fish keeping...that's how stores make money...by offering BAD advice...
people tell you their fish are sick? sure...try these meds...
people ask about this fish...if it's ok being with this other one...? you're not sure! but you have a divider that would work for it just in case xD
I'm sorry but it's the reality of fish keeping
most tanks are inherited from when kids were 8-9 and wanted a gold fish together with those "blue guys" and a nemo!
don't lie but also don't offer advice unless specifically asked..nothing worst than the feeling of being tricked..and you lose a customer..
you could set up your website for online payment or local pickup...and don't bother taking them fish out of the tank unless the person actually shows up...
simply put a note on the tank...hold X fish til this day...no show? remove the note...
local pick up also means untaxed cash
then comes the actual space for it..you need to find a manufacturer for styrofoam boxes in bulk for different sizes
and never offer guarantee of such things like DOA specially for expensive fish
and if you make enough money that you decide to offer it..make sure to seal the bag...(heat melt seal) and for the person to make a video before opening the box
reason for that is that many online shops are scammed this way...they only tie a knot
person opens the box takes the styrofoam box out takes the fish..grabs their old dead fish puts them in the bag and ties it
flip the styrofoam box and put it inside the cardboard box again flip it and open it from the opposite side while recording a video..and boom...the fish "died" in transit
now if your bag had a logo and a black line close to the seal even if they wanted to seal it again they would have to seal under that black line which to you would just mean someone opened the bag already
Thread started in November. Member only posted 2 messages and has not been seen since December.
Best of luck to the OP but I suspect this thread is not going anywhere.
to have someone make you a website
I would never let someone else make a website for me. I would do it myself. For having an enterprise (how small or big it might be), it's better to control the website yourself. And it saves money...

But as seangee has already stated, the OP hasn't been back yet to this topic ever since.

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