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Pet Business Owners Share How Many Vacation Days They Take Each Year — and How!

In the PETS+ Facebook Community, readers discussed their time off each year and shared tips for how to leave it all behind.

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QUESTION: Store owners who work your store(s): How many vacation days do you get a year? Not including your regular weekly days off, I mean time beyond that. — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • Vacations are really important for not only myself, but the growth of the business. Stepping away from the day-to-day is what helps me see the bigger picture and put ideas into action. It helps tremendously with creative thinking. My store has an amazing team who are all there for the right reasons — reasons that mesh with our mission. I also have an excellent manager and assistant manager who can handle issues as they arise. I take vacations whenever I feel the need, sometimes up to three weeks at a time. For those who don’t take vacations, just do it! You and your business are worth it. — Kendra Conze, Health Mutt, Tampa, FL
  • I’ll let you know when I get one! — Holly Montgomery, Tail Blazers Legacy, Calgara, AB
  • It’s me and my daughter. She works six days a week at the store and gets two days off when I have a Friday off from my regular job. I take vacation from my regular job to help at the store. We are only four years in and bought the store on a whim so still learning. Our goal is to be able to take a month off by year seven to both go to Ireland! So waiting for our chance. — Stephanie Zeigler Steelman, Wings Wags and Whiskers, Amarillo, TX
  • I take about two one-week vacations a year. A couple long weekends here and there. The week-long vacations are usually planned no less than nine months in advance. Blocking out the time on our calendar that hangs on our wall in the office. Sometimes the destination hasn’t even been picked out. But to have the time blocked out is a huge relief. As small-business owners and leaders, we have to learn how to detach. For mental health, but also it gives us a minute to look around and maybe see things we are missing. For the newer owners, you will get there. When I bought my store from the owners (I was already an employee), I worked seven days a week for three years. It’s hard, it’s tough, but also know there is light at the end of the tunnel. As far as quick long weekend getaways, my part-time employees are always more than willing to pick up more hours. The long weekends are more R & R or used for house/family projects. I generally check in on everything while I am gone for the week-long weeks. — Chris Mitchell, Crown Hill Pet Supply, Seattle, WA
  • Nine years in and no vacations. I am doing good to work five days a week instead of six or seven. — Jennifer Moore Baker, The Grateful Dog Bakery, North Ridgeville, OH
  • Forty-five years in business with two locations and 18 employees. I manage to get in about two, one-week vacations a year on top of any work travel/time away for trade/ distributor buying shows. We have a very long-term core structure. Managers who have been with us for 25 and 15 years. Assistant managers for 10 years. Operations Manager for eight Years. We even have a warehouse manager who has been with us over 35 years! We look for employees who have that passion for animals, but who also understand retail is a career. Delegation and being able to trust your staff. Yes, it might not be as perfect as if you were there doing it, but they will figure it out. — Britt Zion, Agri Feed Pet Supply, Knoxville, TN
  • We’re a small boutique with almost four years in… have taken one 1-week vacation in that time. — Kaye Busse-Kleber, Bark On Mulford, Rockford, IL
  • One full week. Most trade shows, we tack on an extra three R&R days. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Warrington, PA
  • In the beginning and probably the first 10 years, I hardly took a day off. After many years of hard work, if I want to take a trip or take a day, I do. I don’t have a set number of days. (I am still a workaholic, but I love my store and love being here.) — Beth Staley, Happy Dog Barkery, Downers Grove, IL
  • My store has been in operation for 10 years now. At the beginning, it was far and few in between. Now I take a week to 10 days off in a row several times a year. I also take several three-to-four-day weekends off. I have amazing staff at the moment, knock on wood, so good in fact I am considering opening another location. Stay with it. And make sure your staff gets some time off as well. — Paul Lewis, The Green K9, Mount Dora, FL
  • I don’t have a set number of days. I’ll take at least two one-week vacations, plus lots of three-to-four day mini-vacations a year. Plus I do two pet shows and two non-pet retail shows per year. My staff is very well trained, and I feel comfortable leaving them running the store. Their mission is to keep our customers happy, and they are empowered to make good decisions that keep them coming back. In previous years, I even went to Montana for a month at a time for fly fishing and cattle working on a remote family ranch with very little Wi-Fi and no mobile phone access. Because they were well trained, we never worried once and they took care of my store beautifully. I don’t think how many days you take is the real question, it’s what do you do to prepare your staff so you CAN take a vacation! — Patricia Zeller, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA
  • Twenty-five years in biz, indie pet retail with grooming (me!), quarterly long weekends and at least one or two five-night trips. Getting ready to leave town is traumatic, LOL. I plan at least a month in advance, mostly to make sure my employee will be 110-percent prepared and informed, ready for anything, in my absence. I experience high anxiety when leaving still, but getting away, even if it’s a staycation, is critical to my mental health and probably why I still love what I do and plan to continue. If you have great and trained staff, the business can/should run fine! I come up with my best ideas when I’m away. True story!! — Karen Conell, The Bark Market, Delavan, WI
  • Because our store is still relatively new (just over a year and a half), I don’t get too many days off. We’re closed Sundays, so occasionally I have a Sunday off, but it usually just means I work from home or I don’t have to work in the store. We’re also closed on [government holidays], so the same applies. We’re looking to bring on our third team member, and I’m hopeful once she’s been onboarded, that will allow me to take a couple days here and there! — Carly Patryluk, House of Paws Pet Boutique, Regina, SK

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Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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