Lara Steward: From acting to opening my own pet shop

Posted on May 3, 2012



I am a pet shop owner.

It all started two years ago when I bought a farm with the help of my wonderful family. It was run down. Ugly. Over-grown. But I loved it.

The original plan was to have a petting farm but that dream vanished as soon as I discovered exactly what happened to the little lambs and goat kids when they’re not so little and cute anymore.

Maybe in the future I’ll have a petting farm, but instead of baby animals, I could have animal OAPs. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see adorable elderly goats eating anything and everything or having a big old goose chasing after you?

However, for now, we knew it wouldn’t bring us enough income if we decided only to have old animals that would simply potter around the place, without the ‘awh’ factor the baby animals have.

I have to be honest with you, I’d rather be an actor. However, sadly, opportunities are so few and far between that I knew I needed something more. I will still continue to find jobs but I needed something else on the side.

But what?

A big dog park where the owners can pay so that their dogs can play safely within the fence?

Paintballing?

A mini forest so the visitors can pretend to be Hansel and Gretal?

Two years passed, we got beautiful muscovy ducks and three very handsome llamas. Not quite enough though, especially as the llamas are too young to pull anything, let alone a cart, for another two years.

Then my dad had an idea. A pet shop.

It would be perfect, as even if we didn’t make too much of a profit, we would still save money if we sold the brands that we feed our own animals on.

As it does add up, with 5 dogs, 2 hamsters, 5 cats, 4 chinchillas, 12 ferrets, 7 rabbits, 29 chickens, 12 ducks (with ducklings on the way), 3 llamas, and 2 wild duck visitors who like to steal the food!

It’s gone from to a small seed to a proper little shop now.

We have only been open for a short while so every sale is amazing! The llamas are a great way to get the people in – the boys are very cheeky and nosey. They have also already been in the shop (accidently) but they seemed to like it!

Someday, I would like to expand to a small cafe, an OAP pet petting farm (maybe the first in the country!) as well as hiring out stables for people to use as shops. However, for now, until we can afford to pay staff, I do have over 50 animals to train to serve the customers. I think I will start with Ivy, the youngest chinchilla, as she already seems to be better at using the till than me!

So far, we’ve had quite a few customers. It is quite easy to communicate with them as I am well known in this village so most people already know I am deaf. Those who don’t know either figure it out quickly or I tell them!

When we set up the shop, we did it so that it was well lit and that the counter is in a good place so if the customers speak, it is easy to catch or to ask them to repeat.

The only problem was when I had was at a local car boot where we had a stall and a deaf old man misheard the price so I had to go after him to give him his change!

Lara Steward is 22 years old, an actor (My Song, The Silence) with a pet shop. She loves goat milk and cookies so someday, she will own nanny goats and hire a baker to make cookies 24/7. Greenfield Pet Shop is based in Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire. For more info on Lara, check out her website: http://larasteward.com/

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