... Burlington, MA 01803. Zoo Zajac was, at the time, two-thirds of its present size, still large enough to earn it the distinction of the biggest pet shop in the world. Zajac saw no animals for sale. Here is our list of rankings for the Top 20 Most Visited Online Pet Stores Websites. Between these big four, they own almost all of the best known dog food brands. Most German businesses are modest enterprises, and consumers there aren’t impressed by immensity in and of itself. Residents of North Rhine–Westphalia, the state that contains Duisburg, spend more on their pets than any other Germans. The "humanization" trend has benefited more than just animals. And then there’s the Internet. Instead, there's an abundance of so-called exotic pets. Zajac feeds the sloths carrots and cucumbers. (Zoo Zajac, which has about 1 million visitors annually, would rank in the top 30 of European zoos if it were eligible. Of course you can also stop in for a gift if you're visiting a nearby pet too! At 18, he sold most of his pets after he was conscripted into the military. Tens of thousands of people traveled from all over the world to visit and participate, and Zajac dreamed of a permanent pet shop of a similar magnitude. Live animals are expensive to maintain in a pet shop, and demand is relatively small. 7. Welcome to Bird Paradise! Chains such as Fressnapf keep encroaching on Zoo Zajac’s business—there are 16 Fressnapfs now within 10 miles of Duisburg, and Zajac paid one a visit on a recent summer afternoon. We are the original Aquatic & Pet Supply Superstore. Seven of the 10 most visited European zoos in 2013 were in Germany, and the remaining three were in German-speaking Austria and Switzerland. He took good care of her and bought a second hamster one year later. "It's almost used as a gratis zoo by the people," says Ulrich Schürer, the former director of the nearby Zoo Wuppertal. And other pet shop owners have proved reluctant to follow his lead. The addition wasn’t vicious or endangered, but the most conventional pet of all. He became Germany's youngest licensed parrot breeder in 1967, when he was 13, and quickly cornered the local market on parakeets by training them to breed at Christmastime. He started looking at industrial warehouses so he could continue growing. It’s called Zoo Zajac, and it unfurls, like an airport terminal, along a horseshoe in the road. It’s impossible to keep up. Banaszak is a thoughtful and soft-spoken woman with shoulder-length hair, rimless glasses, and a totally normal wardrobe. Zoo Zajac sells 50 species of tarantula and maintains one of the finest reptile collections in Western Europe — better, even, than many zoos'. Today, Zajac’s pet shop fills a 130,000-square-foot warehouse in an industrial part of Duisburg. Germany, however, has some of the lowest rates of dog and cat ownership in all of Europe. As a teenager, he’d tried to import animals from Singapore; as a shop owner, he hopped on an airplane and picked them up himself. PetSmart was the largest pet specialty retail chain in North America as of February 2020 in terms of number of stores, with a total of 1,660 stores. He claims to have already died and been resuscitated on the operating table four times. Zajac on his moped. Reprinted with permission. Two years later he was working again at the steel mill when he saw an advertisement in the local paper. The World’s Biggest Pet Store Has 250,000 Animals August 22, 2015 8:17 AM Subscribe Zoo Zajac is a 130,000 sq ft (120,77.4 sq m) pet store in a small town in Germany. There’s also China, where Zajac fears his achievement will one day be surpassed. “It’s almost used as a gratis zoo by the people,” says Ulrich Schürer, the former director of the nearby Zoo Wuppertal. One pet food manufacturer withdrew its products from the store’s shelves. Germans are also, by reputation, more analytical than sentimental, which could help explain their interest in animals that are observed in tanks or cages rather than commingled in the family home. Zajac lives on the second floor in a modest apartment behind his office with his wife, Jutta, and a mother-daughter pair of dachshunds. Zajac, who never graduated from high school, worked early shifts at the steel mill so he could be home to tend his animals before dusk. By the time he was 8, Zajac had bred more than 100 golden hamsters in the basement of his family's little home. In the U.S., PetSmart and Petco Animal Supplies capture more than half of industry revenue. Visit the BringFido Worldwide Pet Store Directory for recommendations on thousands of pet stores worldwide. Even the German Pet Trade & Industry Association didn’t support him. Zajac spent €800,000 on large kennels with heated floors and outdoor sections. Zajac was disappointed to find only a couple of international visitors, from the Netherlands; often he finds plates from hundreds of miles away, from France, Poland, and the U.K. Germany isn't the country where most people would expect to find the world's biggest pet shop. No other country had more than 15. In the U.S., they make up only 6 percent of the retail pet market. “I had to help her give birth here on the living room table,” he says. He filled his staff with certified experts and built a highly specialized bookshop. Many of the most successful pet businesses have stopped selling animals or scaled back to just a few low-maintenance species, even though their customers are crazier than ever about their little friends. The store has become a tourist attraction, with visitors interacting with it like a zoo. It smelled of linoleum, not rawhide and wood chips, and in lieu of Zoo Zajac’s bestial cacophony, there was only some faint Europop. His parents, a highway cop and a housewife in Gladbeck, Germany, said he could keep as many pets as he wanted, as long as he paid for them himself. The first three deaths came after he was stung by a lionfish at Zoo Zajac, and the fourth happened during knee replacement surgery. Zajac is particularly fond of shirts that spread the image of an animal, like a manatee or a gorilla, from his shoulders to his navel, as if his ample torso were an IMAX screen. Pet Express. Germany never legally prohibited their sale, but no other German pet shop was selling dogs when Zoo Zajac resumed in 2012. For a full list of record titles, please use our Record Application Search. The vehicle never leaves the premises and logs more than 2,500 miles a year. After he’s led you through the exotic mammals, the terrarium, the garden, the aquarium, the puppies, the birds, and the small mammals, he might take you to the parking lot for one of his favorite shows of all. A few months later, Guinness World Records paid a visit. Today, Zajac's pet shop fills a 130,000-​square-​foot warehouse in an industrial part of Duisburg. Even better, Waterloo is … He converted a storage area into a saltwater aquarium floor in 1978. A walk around the place is essentially an endurance sport, which is why Zajac, a heavy man with two bad knees, zips up and down the aisles on a black moped. Oh, Scott petting the stingray wasn't abberant behavior on his part. Similarly, 7 of the 10 most visited European zoos in 2013 were in Germany, and the remaining three were in German-speaking Austria and Switzerland. Zajac always understood his countrymen’s attraction to unusual animals, and he never thought of his pet shop as a simple site of exchange. Zoo Zajac is the biggest pet Store in the world with about 250.000 Animals and 3000 different species. He started a mail-order business in 1987, which grew in the 1990s to make up as much as 70 percent of Zoo Zajac’s total sales. He wrote a fundraising notice in his catalog, asking customers for loans to renovate the warehouse, which he would repay at 7 percent interest—a better rate than he could get from any bank. “It’s like family planning,” he says. "Before, if somebody had a pond in their backyard, they would buy a bunch of goldfish at Easter and plant a bunch of flowers around the pond," he says. Our Pet World owners have been in pet retail in Central Florida since the early 1980’s. From Business: PetSmart is the world s largest pet supply and service retailer, offering over 10,000 products in each store to meet all of your pet s needs. The “humanization” trend has benefited more than just animals. In the same amount of space, Zajac employs 10 people. The U.S. pet industry has more than tripled, to $60 billion, over the past 20 years, and pet care was one of the few retail industries to grow during the Great Recession. Taste is becoming more conventional, shedding the quirks that made Zoo Zajac possible in the first place. Much of that growth, though, has accrued to big-box retailers rather than small pet shops. He continued down the row of tiny European vehicles, estimating the distance of their journey to his store. Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in Bloomberg.com. “Here, anytime anybody has a question, they can find an answer, and they’ll still come back even if it’s a little bit more expensive,” Zajac says. Zajac always sold dog food and supplies, but like all German pet shop owners, he'd stopped selling dogs themselves in the 1970s. Highlights include Zajac feeding grasshoppers to a family of little monkeys, who bite off the heads and gobble up the bodies two-handed, like a hoagie; a call-and-response duet between peacocks and the horn on Zajac’s moped; and Zajac’s T-shirt. Two years after he bought his first shop, which was 700 square feet, Zajac started renting space in the house next door. Need to find a pet store or specialty dog boutique? Germany, however, has some of the lowest rates of dog and cat ownership in all of Europe. Zoo Zajac opened in its current location on Nov. 17, 2004. She can buy armadillos, meerkats, coatis, and monkeys; or fill aquariums with jellyfish, tetras, shellfish, and piranhas. It’s more than twice the size of the White House and three times as large as a Whole Foods Market. He bought the building in 1982, eventually taking over his other neighbor, too. People increasingly disapproved of the sale of the most affectionate species, and, despite Zoo Zajac’s continual growth, it was hard to find sufficient space for cats and dogs in the store. Zajac was responding to a changing market. Zajac says he received multiple bomb and death threats. DoubleDeuce: This is the only pet store that you need if you and your pet live in the area. During a tour, Zajac might also feed fresh eggs from his chickens to a monitor lizard, or take you through the reptile tanks, which are stacked three high in long rows, like televisions in the window of an old electronics store. “If you don’t look like a zoo today, your physical retail will have problems in the future.”. There is little doubt that our store is a very large bird store, probably the largest in the world. She admires her father, but she hasn’t quite inherited his obsessions. His parents, a highway cop and a housewife in Gladbeck, Germany, said he could keep as many pets as he wanted, as long as he paid for them himself. Instead, there’s an abundance of so-called exotic pets. In Germany, the pet-care chain Fressnapf operates more than 800 locations and claims nearly a third of all sales. "Cologne," he said. Zajac says he received multiple bomb and death threats. “He always has extreme ideas,” she says, with loving exasperation. Zajac, who never graduated from high school, worked early shifts at the mill so he could be home to tend his animals before dusk. She can buy armadillos, meerkats, coatis, and monkeys; or fill aquariums with jellyfish, tetras, shellfish, and piranhas. “Before, if somebody had a pond in their backyard, they would buy a bunch of goldfish at Easter and plant a bunch of flowers around the pond,” he says. He’s entrusted 49 percent of the company to his eldest daughter, Katja Banaszak, who will run it when he’s no longer able. Zajac began selling hamsters to local pet shops. Chains slashed operating costs by eliminating live animals and exploited economies of scale to sell an ever-increasing variety of products as cheaply as possible. A visitor can spend as much as €9,000 ($10,000) on a two-toed sloth or as little as €1.19 on a box of crickets. Kitty City at Pet World is the official adoption center for Stray Pets in Need of Natick, MA. These animals suit Germans’ famously fastidious lifestyles. In Germany, the pet-care chain Fressnapf operates more than 800 locations and claims nearly a third of all sales, according to the research firm Euromonitor International. Today, Zoo Zajac is still the only pet store in Germany where you can buy a dog. “When I found out about an animal, I wanted to hold it, and when I held an animal, I wanted to breed it,” Zajac says. It was easy advice to give in the 1970s to a young man from the Ruhr Valley, the heart of the West German steel industry and the most populated part of the country. He raised €2 million in three months. Netsirk: Great location for pets hanging out by the park or if you work in the area and need to treat yo furry friend! Jellyfish, tetras, shellfish, and piranhas an industrial part of Duisburg left ) and meerkats in pen. 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