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Why the Pet Industry Should Take a Cue from TV’s Best Small Businesses


Rhonda Abrams—the small business expert and USA Today columnist—had a fun column this weekend asking what TV show has the best small business character. She had reached out to entrepreneurs on social media to get their opinions.

As she points out, small business is the second most admired institution in the U.S.—so you’d figure that there would be more shows built around it.

This got me wondering why there isn’t a great show based around a pet store. There are popular shows with dog trainers like Cesar Millan and Victoria Stilwell, vets get a look in with Dr. Po and the old favorite, “All Creatures Great and Small.” It would seem like a natural—either as a sitcom or a reality show. When you have a store full of unpredictable critters and the people who love them there is plenty of room for humor!

But while we come up with that one, here are the characters and shows that Abrams listed:

  1. “Shark Tank.” The panel. OK. No big surprise that this scored high with her crowd. Particularly because so many people say they have learned a lot from listening to the panelists take apart the pitches that are made.
  2. “The Simpsons.” Yes, seriously. She points out that Ned Flanders’ The Leftorium is a specialty store facing stiff competition from a big-box retailer.
  3. “Fixer Upper,” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. This popular show drives traffic to stores with people trying to copy looks they see on TV.
  4. “Modern Family.” Real estate agent Phil Dunphy is always hustling, coming up with marketing gimmicks like signs on bus stops, free seminars and signs on his van. Also, the show’s Jay Pritchett is an old-school entrepreneur who built his company into a success. Now he is transitioning it to a new generation—a situation most small businesses ultimately will face.
  5. “The Big Bang Theory.” Stuart Bloom, who owns The Comic Center comic book store, struggles with his marketing.
  6. “The Good Wife.” Diane Lockhart is a tough cookie who is shown running the law firm as a business—not a side that is often shown in programs about lawyers.
  7. “The New Girl.” Miller knows the bar business, but Schmidt has the capital. Rhonda notes it is a good example of silent partners not staying silent long.
  8. “Sherlock.” The modern-day Holmes see his business pick up after Watson starts a blog.
  9. “Parks and Recreation.” Haverford is forever starting new businesses while keeping his day job with the department. Like many small businesses, he runs a cycle of success, failure, success.
  10. “Downton Abbey.” Cook Mrs. Patmore opens her own bed-and-breakfast.

So back to the idea of a show built around the daily goings on at a pet store. It seems like a natural for reality TV. Think of the fun TV to be had when birds speak colorful language or playful puppies drop unexpected presents on unsuspecting customers. Think of all the “characters” you encounter in your business. Or maybe it works better as a sitcom. Either way, it seems time for a pet shop TV show. “Pets and the City,” anyone?

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