What is this place?


What is this place?

Well, it’s complicated.

You’re currently on Pet World Lawrence’s eCommerce site. We still have our original site for your convenience. But this place in new. It was supposed to be for Aquarium and Terrarium hobbyists but Covid-19 changed all that.

Let’s start with explaining what this site is not.


Pet World Lawrence Online is not intended to be an online version of the Pet World Experience in Lawrence, Kansas. There is no way we could even attempt to recreate a virtual experience of our Lawrence rehoming center. Locals understand this but if you’ve never been there, wow, it’s hard to explain.

Imagine a huge pet store that’s shockingly clean and full of all kinds of supplies for pets. Then imagine a trained staff of the coolest, friendliest, most passionate pet people you’ll ever met, whose job is to introduce you to the animals they take care of and love. Imagine looking closer and seeing rescue animals right alongside specialty bred animals, living in the most amazing habitats, accessible to touch and pet and even hold, and imagine suddenly realizing you’re actually standing inside a licensed animal shelter – that’s operating inside a full line pet store. We call it a Rehoming Center. (Yeah, we made that up many years ago, and it seems to fit.)

Imagine Girl Scouts earning their Animal Husbandry Badge and class field trips and birthday parties where kids donate supplies to shelter pets in lieu of gifts. Imagine people holding a snake for the first time and feeling their fascination replacing their fear. Then imagine happy faces everywhere on animal lovers just like you.

Yeah. That’s the Pet World Experience. That cannot be duplicated.


Now what about all those thousands of supplies sold at the retail location in Lawrence? Why aren’t they all available through this online store?

Because as of this moment that is a project we’re not prepared to take on. Since 1988 we’ve used our profits to sustain our rescue work at no expense to our city and keep our Classroom Pets Program free to our public schools. If we move to an online pricing model we’ll have to close our shelter, discontinue our free rehoming services, and dissolve our partnership with Lawrence Public Schools. That just can't happen. We also can’t imagine maintaining paid leave, health insurance, or even fair, living wages for our employees on those margins.

We're a small business. Getting in the ring with Amazon and Chewy would change everything about who we are and prevent us from doing what we do. We’d rather just close our small business than become the very thing that’s destroying small business. That's why we have no sustainable plans to maintain a complete, online catalog of everything we sell at our retail location, BUT you can still call directly and order whatever you want! There are thousands of items available that you won't find here but we can still provide what you need.

SUBSCRIPTIONS! If you are a Lawrence customer and would like to keep your money local, please submit a Special Request form with your Chewy and Amazon subscription info. Even if we don't regularly stock your food in-store, we can get it weekly and easily deliver dog food, cat food, cat litter, or other items to your door at the same great value!


The good news is we have some unbelievable sources for items that aren’t readily available from Big Corporate, and some exclusive items you can’t get anywhere else. After networking all over the globe for 30 years, and wholesaling to other independents in our buying cooperative for decades, we’re in an excellent position to offer some fabulous products to the public at great prices! In fact, as Tim & I (store owners) continue to reduce our salary year after year to invest more into employees, the business, and the community, our original intention was to use our global connections to launch a companion business with really great hobbyist stuff that could afford to pay for itself and its staff, with enough left over to cover a reasonable retirement salary for us. That way our Lawrence rehoming center could utilize our salary money instead, and carry on even after we completely retire.

That was the plan, anyway.

Now, of course, with how Covid-19 has changed the way everyone does business, we’re using this online store to make it easier for local customers, too. We're hoping the online store can generate enough income to save our Lawrence location and the jobs of our dedicated employees. Retirement is now officially postponed (but that's okay). Pet World has only closed one time in over 30 years (after the 2015 fire) and we never again want to witness how devastating our absence was to our local community.

So...what is this place, Pet World Lawrence Online?


Pet World Lawrence Online is basically a new side hustle to offer fabulous pet stuff to people in places that don’t have awesome, independent rehoming centers and locally owned pet stores. While it’s mostly fish stuff right now, because it was created as a fish and reptile hobby site, we’re expanding our online catalog and adding more things for other pets every day! We’ll also add live fish and plants soon.

Many cities have been taken over by corporate stores and, with no locally owned, independent options, consumers literally have no choice but to shop corporate or online and they are not okay with that! So this site was first inspired by former customers who moved away and told us how much they missed the Pet World Experience. It’s one way we can stay connected to them while reaching out to a whole, new group of pet people we’ve yet to meet!


Think this site still needs a little work? It does. We may be longtime experts in the pet industry but online sales is hardly our thing. We resist Amazon and honestly don’t spend money online. We’re all about personal experiences, face to face, going outside, getting dirty, eating worms and stuff. We know nothing about running an eCommerce site. And no sooner were we launching this awesome fish and reptile hobby site when the pandemic struck and we immediately had to start making adjustments we weren't prepare to make. But when the game changes, the players gotta adjust. So please bear with us while we try to adapt, even though we kinda have no idea what we’re doing. To us, it’s a bit like trying to play basketball in softball cleats on carpet wearing a hockey mask, actually, but we’re committed!


Our warehouse is not far from our retail location so our local customers already have access to everything on this site (for the same or reduced prices) plus thousands and thousands of other items. Pet supplies are essential goods so we're open even during the pandemic. Now, with the development of this eCommerce site, we’ve been able to add in-store or parking lot pick up and local delivery for not only what you can put in your online cart, but also anything available at our retail location in Lawrence. If local customers can’t make it in, one call to (785) 841-7476 and their favorite employees will walk the aisles to virtually shop with them remotely. It’s the next best thing to being there!


We didn’t think remote shopping would mean much to locals but now, after COVID-19, it means more than we ever imagined. People are taking classes remotely and working remotely so why not talk to a real person and shop your favorite pet store remotely? Your pets need supplies and our employees need jobs. It’s a win-win situation. If you are part of our local customer family you know the best thing about the Pet World Experience is our staff. Read our hundreds of 5-star reviews and you’ll see most of them are raving about our employees.

You can buy pet supplies anywhere but you’ll never find a staff like ours. And in difficult, uncertain times like these, what is the one thing we can offer that no one in our industry can do better? Our service. Need help choosing your pet or supplies? Call in for free and one of your favorite employees will match your needs to the right pets and products. We can even deliver right to your door. Have something a bit more complicated? Maybe you need fish for that new tank but you’re stuck at home? Want uninterrupted one-on-one time with one of our experts? Schedule a $20 video call consultation and let us show you your options then immediately take that $20 right off your purchase. Can't get through the busy phone lines? Submit a Special Request form and we'll call you back!

Even if this crisis temporarily closes our doors, we still have to take care of all the animals every day so we might as well take your calls, right? Who knows? If we can master this service on the local level, maybe we can offer it to non-locals in the near future and Tim and I can actually retire after all…maybe...someday.  

Thank you for your support. We hope you enjoy the expanded experience.




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