Jumping into a fad for a business? Could you evaluate what else I should be thinking about?

Original idea:

So long story short, I would like to start up a pet supply store. This store would offer:

  • High end pet food (if you are unaware of the market, chewy was bought out by PetSmart so a few companies pulled their support. These companies made them a lot of $$)
  • Cheap dog beds. I hate spending $70 on a dog bed. No one buys them, so I would try to keep beds under $20.
  • Higher-end harnesses/leashes/collars. You can buy them online, but most places don't sell in store. This is a problem because you might get a wrong size then have to go through the hassle of sending it back.
  • Home made dog toys. Super simple and people love them. Can sell with a good profit margin.
  • Clothing

These are just a few things I had in mind, I have about a whole notebooks worth of ideas, promotions, etc. I did a google forms survey and had 500 responses from the community. 95% of the responses said they would try out high end food for their pets if given the chance. The survey was launched yesterday, and I plan on closing it after the weekend so those numbers might change.

Within 120 miles, we do not have a store like this. Past the 120 mile mark, there are probably 15 all within 20 miles. I interviewed one manager from one of these stores and they mentioned that they see about 5 people a day that have driven from my community. There is definitely a demand for this kind of service, and we do have a medium population (70k) and it is growing every year.

The additional idea:

This is the "fad" part. A pet cafe. I could use the same space to open a coffee shop, have it partially walled off from the store.

I have 5 years of experience running a small coffee hut. My family owned many coffee shops but closed down about 6 years ago, and they still have all of the equipment (cupboards, fridges, giant espresso machine, frothing cups, hoppers, tampers, etc.) I spoke with the family member that has the equipment, and they would loan it to me interest free for a really good deal. So that part is out of the way.

I would not make my own pastries, I would just get them store bought. But I might look into making my own dog pastries.

The pet part: 1 or 2 days out of the week, I would coordinate with my local shelter to have them bring in dogs or cats for adoption. This would bring in non-pet owners to come and pet the animals, hangout with them, sit and have a cup of coffee (so they can either adopt or relieve them of the "getting an animal itch".) There is a surplus of volunteers at the shelter and there is actually a waiting list! We would need 1 or 2 volunteers there through the day to talk to customers, watch the animals, and promote adopting from the shelter.

This is actually a thing I have been seeing on Facebook for a couple years in Japan and how it is a huge hit. I am seeing it more in the states, and I believe this would work in my community.

So concerns:

  • Liability insurance. Is it higher if we allow shelter dogs to join us in the coffee shop? Should we not allow outside pets in the cafe? I do not want someone getting bit. I do not want equipment getting destroyed.

  • Leasing property. I have found a few properties online I would like to look more into. Is it problematic to allow animals on a leased property? Are there special rules normally? I am just talking in general.

  • Renovating. If the building is leased, how does renovations work? If the area is carpeted, I would pay to have tile put in or concrete. Do most places allow this? Also I would like to paint the inside.

  • Going out of style. I know this will happen. I know this won't last forever. Would it be dumb to sink this money into a business that most likely won't be around for longer than 5 years? I would love to have it forever, but in reality, these things pass.


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