How to Start Your Own Pet Store in Illinois

opening a pet store in Illinois


The US has a strong culture of owning pets. A pet is a friend, provides company, and play a critical role in improving health. Many Americans desire to own a pet, and others see it as an achievement and something to be proud about. Illinois has not been left behind in the practice of owning pets.

With the interaction you have with pets, and the research you have made through observing pet behavior, why not consider earning an income from the same? Illinois has a lot to offer in businesses that are related to the pets. Here is a guide on how to start your own pet store in Illinois:

Scope of the Products

Simply put, a pet store keeps anything that is related to keeping a pet.

Some of the products that are available in the pet store include the following:

-fish tanks

-dog toys

-pet food

-care products



-pet bed

Scope of the Services

There are several services that are related to pets. To start with, pet owners are going to need a walk-in clinic. When you offer such a service in Illinois, you are providing pet services to the people, near where they live. Therefore, you are not going to emphasize on an appointment because not many pet lovers are going to wait for long to have their pet attended to.

Second, as a lover of pets, you can consider running an adoption center. In an adoption center, homeless pets are given another chance to have a parent and a home. Such a center thrives on compassionate medical care and positive behavior training. In addition to that, an adoption center for pets promotes the spirit of having a more humane community.

You can offer grooming service to pet owners. This service has a low start-up cost and does not need formal training. However, if you start a grooming service, the Animal Welfare Act dictates that you are wholly responsible for the pet you are dealing with and that you should handle it with care.

pet grooming essentials

Experience Required

It is a standard practice to work for someone else before you start your own business. However, the work you choose has to be related to the business you want to start. You can work for a pet store owner, or you can apply for a job with a national pet supply chain.

The benefits that come with working for someone else is that you gain the relevant experience. For example, you are going to learn how to handle the day to day customers. In addition to that, you will come, face to face, with the challenges that pet owners face, and you will learn how to manage risks. Working for someone else gives you confidence that you can work on your own project successfully.


It is not cheap to start a pet store, and you have to prepare yourself to invest in the project. One way of managing the problem of capital is through buying stock in wholesale. You have to factor in the cost of rent as well as utilities. You will have to buy shelves for the stock, a cash counter, as well as display cases.

If you do not have capital, do not be discouraged. The alternative is to seek funding. Before you start exploring sources of funding, you need to have a bank account, a favorable credit score, incorporate the company, and be licensed.

Family and friends can be a good source of funding. Rather than seeking funding from one person, ask for money from multiple people. Have a concrete plan on how you are going to pay for the amount borrowed, and if possible, develop a legal agreement.

One can borrow against their 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plan. In the case you decide to seek funding against the retirement savings, and then seek the help of an accountant who is going to advice you, more so on issues of tax. The US has ample opportunities for micro-loans which are given in partnership with banks and credit unions. If you still have trouble getting a micro-loan, then consider seeking an SBA micro-loan (SBA guarantees a loan for you).

Marketing Your Illinois Pet Store

When you start your own pet store, think about offering specialized services (if you can). When you narrow down your scope of business, you become better, and more experienced. In connection to this, think about offering a product or service that is not readily available in the market. For example, you could have specialized knowledge about offering natural foods to the cat.

Standing out in stiff competition requires creativity on your part. One should aim at forging deep-rooted relationships with the audience. Unfortunately, the big pet supply chains will be a source of stiff competition. If you are to survive, you have to stand out in the market.

Marketing your pet store should be based on two main targets: the pet parent and the pet care-giver. You can tailor your messages on certain thematic concerns such as promoting the health of the pet. Do note that if you build a positive relationship with your clients, then they are going to trust you, and they will be coming back to you on matters related to pets.

Develop a partnership and a strong bond with other professionals such as the vet, groomers, trainers, and the sitters. You can pan for a referral fee for every client that you receive from the professionals. The use of feedback can play a critical role in learning about the areas of improvement and thinking about the best strategies of working with the clients.

The government, with all its bureaucracy, is also looking for local partners to advance its agenda, protection of flora and fauna for instance. You can partner with government agencies in order to position your business more strategically. Similarly, there are many organizations which work in protecting the animals. You can inform such agencies on the need to work together in order to be more competitive.

Cause marketing is a way of giving back to the community, and at the same time, you present yourself as an ideal business that is sensitive to others. In cause marketing, the entrepreneur serves the community and at the same time, increases profitability. If you choose cause marketing, you can collect donations at your store, and then donate them to the community’s local shelters.

In connection to this, you can prepare a press release to the local media on an initiative that you are going to initiate, and such a press release should not be made in a commercial tone. What is important is to engage yourself with the community and show that it is not all about business.

Search Engine Optimization is a critical component of marketing. When you are planning on your SEO strategy, you need to invest in the social media. A lot of Americans spend many hours per week perusing through the social media pages, and this is an opportunity that you are going to exploit.

Businesses which aim to be competitive in the future should develop a brand. When you aim at developing the brand, then you are going to have a lasting positive image in the market. It should be noted that you cannot develop a brand without offering high quality services that will make your clients talk favorably about you.

In your SEO, you can have an in-house project or you can outsource your SEO to a marketing agency. An in-house SEO strategy is only possible if your business is big enough to support a budget. Outsourcing is preferred because you are going to hire a professional only when there is a need.

fish in a pet store


The American authorities take the issue of licensing pet stores with the seriousness it deserves. This is because by owning a pet store, you are directly contributing to the health of the animals. The licensing of a pet store is done at the local level with little intervention from the national government.

It is true that there are some pet activities that you can do without being licensed for the same. However, the field of law can be difficult to understand. You may assume you are carrying out a legal activity, but it is, in fact, illegal. Again, your clients would be more at peace when they are dealing with a certified and licensed professional. With that, they are sure that you are going to meet the minimum standards in your business.

As a pet store owner, be prepared to have inspections done at any time, and it can be done without notice. At the same time, the laws and regulations that govern the pet store could change any time, and it is your responsibility to cope up with the changes and be updated with the legal requirements. Non-compliance to the legal requirements dealing with pets can lead to heavy penalties.

What is in a Name?

The name of a pet store can either attract or repeal the clients. The name of your business should be catchy and interesting. When you use the word pet in the name of the business, the theme of the business is addressed. Much as you may not use the word pet in naming your pet store, using the word pet is safer.

Whichever business name that you choose, do not be controversial. If you are controversial, you are going to pay a heavy price for such a name.

location of a pet store

Location of the Business

The location of the business largely depends on if you want to start a brick and mortar store or a digital business. An Illinois physical business must be strategically located in order to attract traffic. However, before signing a lease make sure you hire a contractor to check out the condition of the store. Also, make sure you hire an Illinois waterproofing company to make sure the store is waterproofed and safe from mold and flooding. If you can, choose a location with a view, you can consequently display your product in an appealing way.

An internet based business can attract a high profit margin and a high stream of customers. The main cost in starting this business is starting the business and handling Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In order to attract consistent traffic, you have to rank high in Google ranking.

The advantage with a virtual company is that you can carry out market research. For example, you can monitor the behavior of your online visitors and decide on the most effective ways of reaching out to them for future business. In connection to this, market segmentation enables you to study how your market is based on variables such as gender and age.

It is possible to have a hybrid model of a physical and virtual business. Whereas this is demanding, it has its own set of advantages. You could both the traditional market and the internet market. For example, you can make an appeal to the local market through strategies such as geo-targeting.

Customer Service

Most of the clients who are going to visit your store are going to be understanding, excited, and calm. They have been brought up with pets and understand that you are working in an esteemed endeavor. Assuming that your store is a local business, then you are going to thrive on the repeat and loyal clients.

That notwithstanding, you need to think about the best way of responding to the customers, and doing so in a timely manner. Asking yourself the following questions will be of much help:

-How long will I be taking to respond to an email?

-How long will I be taking to make a call back?

-How long will I be taking to deliver an order?

-Can a client call me in an emergency?


With determination, you can be successful in your pet business. You are going to have fun, learn a lot about pets, and still make a steady income. Though it will take time to run a successful pet store business, you are going to earn a steady income. In deed, a pet store business carries a high rate of return on investment.