“Wuppertal,” he said. 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. We are the original Aquatic & Pet Supply Superstore. Zoo Zajac is the biggest pet Store in the world with about 250.000 Animals and 3000 different species. Germans keep more small mammals — everything from chinchillas to ferrets to rabbits — per capita than all other Europeans, save the Dutch, and the country also has large populations of pet reptiles and fish. "It's big enough already.". Zoo Zajac started selling puppies. Zoo Zajac is the only pet store in Germany where customers can buy a dog. He survived not through specialization, but through spectacle—by building a pet shop so large that it has gravitational pull. 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. Millennials are now the biggest segment of the population of pet owners, and they are apparently willing to pay more for premium food, care services, and other pet products. From Business: Midas is one of the world's largest providers of auto repair services, including brakes, oil change, tires, maintenance, steering, and exhaust services. It's more than twice the size of the White House, and is, according to Guinness World Records, the biggest pet shop in the world. At 14, Zajac asked a career counselor what he should do with his life. Netsirk: Great location for pets hanging out by the park or if you work in the area and need to treat yo furry friend! "It's almost used as a gratis zoo by the people," says Ulrich Schürer, the former director of the nearby Zoo Wuppertal. Zajac used to laugh about customers who spoiled their pets like children, but by 2000 their behavior was the norm. Banaszak doesn't think the world's biggest pet shop needs penguins, or any other new animals. Dogs, Pet Grooming, Pet Grooming Services & Supplies, Pet Food Stores & Pet Supplies, Pet Clothing & Accessories Mi. A few months later, Guinness World Records paid a visit. Pet Express. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors come from all over the US & Canada to explore our 88,000 square foot retail store. Animal rights activists picketed the store and called him greedy and irresponsible. Zajac’s personal tour of Zoo Zajac can last as long as five hours and never less than two. There’s also China, where Zajac fears his achievement will one day be surpassed. Seven of the 10 most visited European zoos in 2013 were in Germany, and the remaining three were in German-speaking Austria and Switzerland. 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. | (Ériver Hijano), Zoo Zajac has become for the Ruhr Valley what Zajac's childhood home was for his classmates. “If you don’t look like a zoo today, your physical retail will have problems in the future.”. “He offers some animals that we, the association of this industry, aren’t very happy with,” Schreiber says. "I am the little one with the slingshot." “If I just sold only animals, I would lose €250,000 a year.”. He diversified, adding guinea pigs, salamanders, tortoises, and a crocodile. Germany never legally prohibited their sale, but no other German pet shop was selling dogs when Zoo Zajac resumed in 2012. She can buy armadillos, meerkats, coatis, and monkeys; or fill aquariums with jellyfish, tetras, shellfish, and piranhas. 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. “Eighty kilometers.” He continued down the row of tiny European vehicles, estimating the distance of their journey to his store. Zajac always sold dog food and supplies, but like all German pet shop owners, he’d stopped selling dogs themselves in the 1970s. Instead, there’s an abundance of so-called exotic pets. It is, according to Guinness World Records, the biggest pet shop in the world. Our Pet World owners have been in pet retail in Central Florida since the early 1980’s. Taste is becoming more conventional, shedding the quirks that made Zoo Zajac possible in the first place. Nestlé’s products include baby food, medical food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. Come visit us here in Lancaster PA, we’re the largest pet store you’ve ever seen! The first three deaths came after he was stung by a lionfish at Zoo Zajac, and the fourth happened during knee replacement surgery. “A hundred kilometers.” Zajac had left his moped inside, so he shuffled to the next car and inspected its license plate as well. He continued down the row of tiny European vehicles, estimating the distance of their journey to his store. Zajac might also feed fresh eggs from his chickens to a monitor lizard, or tell you to look up when you pass underneath the sloths, who hang from ropes on the ceiling. “I have nothing in common with this store,” he said, walking the aisles. He bought the building in 1982, eventually taking over his other neighbor, too. He's entrusted 49 percent of the company to his eldest daughter, Katja Banaszak, who will run it when he's no longer able. 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. 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. “Small animals make less mess,” Zajac says, “and they do not bother the neighbors.” (A majority of Germans live in apartment buildings, while most western Europeans live in single-family homes.) Within the walls of Bird Paradise awaits any bird and bird owner’s dream come true. As many as 12,000 visitors will arrive on a Saturday, and many of them won't buy anything at all, except for perhaps a currywurst or coffee at the cafeteria. The industry has seen significant gains, with a rise in spending on pet care and supplies to the tune of $25 billion in 2017 — an increase of 27% from the year before. It smelled of linoleum, not rawhide and wood chips, and in lieu of Zoo Zajac’s bestial cacophony, there was only some faint Europop. He'll warn you not to pet the ferrets: Last year he called five ambulances for ferret bites alone. Zoo Zajac has become for the Ruhr Valley what Zajac’s childhood home was for his classmates. 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. These animals suit Germans' famously fastidious lifestyles. Independent pet shops were beginning to come under pressure, but Zajac found new opportunities. 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. Germans keep more small mammals—everything from chinchillas to ferrets to rabbits—per capita than all other Europeans, save the Dutch, and the country also has large populations of reptiles and fish. He was told to become a steelworker. And then there’s the Internet. 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 spent 800,000 euros on large kennels with heated floors and outdoor sections. Zajac, who never graduated from high school, worked early shifts at the mill so he could be home to tend his animals before dusk. More than 25,000 people sent a protest letter from PETA that included a cartoon of Zajac strangling the creature with a price tag around its neck. 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. Today, Zoo Zajac is still the only pet store in Germany where you can buy a dog. Today, Zajac’s pet shop fills a 130,000-square-foot warehouse in an industrial part of Duisburg. Zajac began selling hamsters to local pet shops. 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. Germany, however, has some of the lowest rates of dog and cat ownership in all of Europe. The "humanization" trend has benefited more than just animals. At 18, he sold most of his pets after he was conscripted into the military. She manages many of its business operations, while her father focuses on marketing and publicity. Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in Bloomberg.com. He built a warehouse in the lot behind the shop in 1993, the same year he started organizing huge exhibitions of tropical fish in convention halls in Duisburg. In the U.S., they make up only 6 percent of the retail pet market. Even the German Pet Trade & Industry Association didn’t support him. 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, and a call-and-response duet between peacocks and the horn on Zajac's moped. It is, according to Guinness World Records, the biggest pet shop in the world. The steel industry had declined over the decades, and Duisburg was losing population every year. Banks were wary of lending money for such a mammoth upgrade, but the city of Duisburg stepped in to help. 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. "If I sold only animals, I would lose 250,000 euros a year.". He wears only animal-themed shirts from The Mountain, the clothier whose Three Wolf Moon design became an Internet meme after a sarcastic Amazon.com reviewer praised its ability to attract women. Partly this is because of a "dog tax" that Germany imposes on owners of man's best friend, but there are other reasons for the popularity of rodents and reptiles. This has given rise to what he calls, sneeringly, “Die Tierhandlung ohne Tiere,” or “the pet shop without pets.” 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. One pet food manufacturer withdrew its products from the store’s shelves. Our Pet World features locally raised puppies, birds and rescue kittens. But German pet ownership gets a little weird. Between these big four, they own almost all of the best known dog food brands. Need to find a pet store or specialty dog boutique? “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. Zajac was disappointed to find only a couple of international visitors, from the Netherlands; often he finds plates from hundreds of miles away, in France, Poland, and the U.K. Germany isn’t the country where most people would expect to find the world’s biggest pet shop. 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. Zoo Zajac’s 140 employees were important to the local economy, so the city offered to lease a warehouse to Zajac until he could afford to buy it. More than 25,000 people sent a protest letter from PETA that included a cartoon of Zajac strangling the creature with a price tag around its neck. In 2012, Zajac added a controversial mammal to his inventory. Live animals are expensive to maintain in a pet shop, and demand is relatively small. 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. In Western countries, where family sizes are shrinking, pet owners no longer treat their animals as property, but as children, pampering them with products and services that would have once seemed ridiculous: bottled water, gluten-free kibble, doggy diapers, designer beds. He diversified, adding guinea pigs, salamanders, tortoises, and a crocodile. By the early 2000s, Zoo Zajac had claimed all the space it possibly could in its original location. Instead, there's an abundance of so-called exotic pets. Norbert Zajac’s massive shop attracts about 1 million visitors each year. 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. “I had to help her give birth here on the living room table,” he says. The addition wasn’t vicious or endangered, but the most conventional pet of all. He raised €2 million in three months. Two years after he bought his first shop, which was 700 square feet, Zajac started renting space in the house next door. Germany still has more than 5,000 independent pet shops, but their market share has dwindled to less than 15 percent. 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. “It’s almost used as a gratis zoo by the people,” says Ulrich Schürer, the former director of the nearby Zoo Wuppertal. In Germany, the pet-care chain Fressnapf operates more than 800 locations and claims nearly a third of all sales. “Obviously, you can’t experience things on the Internet.” The Internet is hurting Zoo Zajac even when not cutting directly into sales: One of the store’s draws has been its expertise, but now an answer is always just a Google search away. The vehicle never leaves the premises and logs more than 2,500 miles a year. 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. “Cologne,” he said. Much of that growth, though, has accrued to big-box retailers rather than small pet shops. A baby chameleon (left) and meerkats in their pen. Residents of North Rhine–Westphalia, the state that contains Duisburg, spend more on their pets than any other Germans. Zajac used to laugh about customers who spoiled their pets like children, but by 2000 their behavior was the norm. Banaszak doesn’t think the world’s biggest pet shop needs penguins, or any other new animals. Our management team has been in pet retail just since the mid 1980’s with experience locally as well as nationally. Stores: 185 As the largest Canadian-owned chain of specialty pet food and supplies, Global Pet Foods has been regarded as pet nutrition and pet care experts since 1976. While many independent shops disappeared or turned to high-end services like grooming or day care, Zajac took the opposite tack. He started looking at industrial warehouses so he could continue growing. Look at Puppies!. Germany, however, has some of the lowest rates of dog and cat ownership in all of Europe. In 2011, for instance, a group of British and Australian researchers counted 98 reptile shows in the European Union, 41 of which were in Germany. ... 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. Named Zoo Zajac, it is located in a 130,000 square-foot warehouse and houses more than 250,000 animals from 3,000 different species. (His total staff of 200 includes three full-time veterinarians.) Most German businesses are modest enterprises, and consumers there aren’t impressed by immensity in and of itself. Zajac had left his moped inside, so he shuffled to the next car and inspected its license plate as well. ), Zoo Zajac's growth was fueled by Germany's development into the European country with the most money and the lowest birth-rate, the two factors that lead consumers to lavish money on their pets. “He always has extreme ideas,” she says, with loving exasperation. 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. 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