Ok so this is my dream job: Owning a fish store, or even a small pet store with bettas, goldies, snails, moss balls, etc. and tank accessories and food, with small pets like hermit crabs and hamsters, and I would love to be a tank designer. I would make themed tanks in varied sizes with the gravel glued to the bottom of the tank (No more washing the gravel!) with the acessories glued to the bottom, making water changes super easy. I am even thinking about having a small section for a few large animals like cats or dogs that have been abandoned or are strays, I could take care of them until they get homes!
Is this stupid and unrealistic? I obviously don't have a very clear picture because I am only in junior high school, but I think this is something I would enjoy doing. Plus, I am taking business classes, so that would help, right? You be the judge!
buisness classes will definately help, maybe get a part time job at a LFS so you can get more of an understanding of what all goes on. it for sure helps ALOT - my dream job of becoming a professional dog trainer has had a jump start from working in dog related buisnesses and working my way up. i started in grooming, then moved to kennel staff and now am a professional dog trainer with an apprenticeship to become a master dog trainer - take it from me, your dream is reachable!! it just takes a lot of work! best of luck!
Get ready for not making a ton of money. Learn business. For sure! It is possible..but it will be hard. Overhead of owning a store is HUGE...paying for the space..air conditioning..heat...electricity...water!! All of that, as well as buying all the fish, supplies, food, medicine, etc.
You may have to charge slightly more for your fish, but if you properly advertised and showed how buying from you is better--not only healthier fish, but you could also maybe offer other services--counselling to figure out why a fish is sick(instead of just a guarantee that it will live for 2 weeks type thing) and other things to really help aquarium fanciers! More about this later.
Make sure you don't take on too much at once! If you aren't passionate about the species...don't carry them. Unless you do have the space, money, and someone who will work with you who does love them. You and I have all seen when an animal lover who is not a fish lover works at a pet store...the fish get ignored--maybe not purposefully, but they might not be doted on as much as the favorite animal species.
As a small animal pet store you have a great niche market. They are cute animals with a lot of fun supplies out there that are just perfect. You can have friendly educational signs and pamphlets as well as an organized layout. You can have a 'betta hospital' section with small tanks that have been specifically marked as temporary hospital tanks and lots of information about the different diseases and what to use to cure them.
People who like small animals often LOVE their animals to death..There is nothing like a young girl and her hamster, she's so head over heels for the thing she'd do anything for the hamster..but maybe hasn't been educated properly on their care. But if she had an easy way to see what to do, she would do it!
Prices..I'm not talking aquabid prices..but there is a reason petsmart can sell their bettas for 2 dollars. How much money do you think they save having them in those unheated cups as compared to each in a 5 gallon tank, or even betta barracks? Lots of money... Plus they have all the overpriced "betta water" and other gimmicks people buy to keep their pet prices down. A small store will have to compete and likely have to charge a little extra for their fish..but being a small store the fish can be high quality, healthy, and of course you could have great variety.
I agree on business classes. I see many people have great dreams..but they don't know how to make them reality. A business class will help.
It's also great that you are thinking about this now. It gives you years to prepare, mold, organize, and plan out your ideas and make them reality.
And you know what..even if this doesn't pan out... Just by shooting for this goal..You could find yourself in another perfect niche for you... You know the saying "Shoot for the moon: even if you miss, you'll land among the stars!" If you don't try, or you sacrifice your dream, you lose your chance of ever getting it..but if you try your best, you may find yourself finding a new path where you can do amazing good for animals and you may find yourself very happy...and in a place where you never would have gotten had you not tried to follow your dreams!
Think, plan... talk with people. Talk with business people! :) Small hobbiest store owners.. Ask questions, get ideas!
I'd definately recommend going for a business degree and work at a petstore/fishstore at least part time for a while to learn the ropes. There's a lot that goes into making a pet store work and the more that you can learn (and get paid while doing it) before trying to open your own store, the better. Be careful with your credit, 'cause it takes a lot of capital to start up any business, and more for a petstore since your product also consumes other resources (pets need to be fed and cages cleaned and that costs). Think about things like staff training (cashier, animal handling, feeding, cleaning, medicating, etc.), location (probably not a good idea to put a small petstore next to a PetSmart or Petco, but you still want a decent amount of traffic), store size versus lease costs, etc.
I will let you know that most pet stores that deal with dogs, cats, rodents, birds, or anything else that bites, usually won't hire anyone under 18 years of age because workman's compensation insurance won't cover injuries from bites to anyone younger than that. Dunno if that's the case in Canada, but it is down here in the States.
About the gluing idea. Loose gravel provides a place for beneficial bacteria to grow, without the loose gravel, you cut down on your system's ability to fight ammonia build up, which can be a major problem in a pet store situation because the tanks are usually really overstocked. Unless your filtration system has bioballs or some similar product to give the bacteria a different home, I wouldn't recommend the glue. For the plants and decorations, think on this. I work at a PetSmart. I have to remove all of our ornaments and plants every 2 1/2 weeks to bleach them because of algae buildup. This is because of the length of time our lights on the tanks are on (7am to 9pm) and the number of fish in our system (nitrates=fertilizer). We can't use algaecides because of our live plants, invertebrates, and some of our more sensitive fish.
I wish you good luck, no matter what you choose to do.
Last edited by guardianfyre; 12-05-2011 at 04:10 AM.
Definitely not a lost cause! Everyone else has already given you great practical advice that I can't give (I'm not good at practical, haha) so all I can say is it's never a lost cause to pursue a dream. Even if there are dreams that are ultimately unachieveable like flying a spaceship or something, the lessons learned and the people met along the way will make it worthwhile. I really think you can do this. :D I'll be rooting for you and when you open that store, I'll make a special trip to Canada just to see it and buy something from you. :) Good luck!