Pet shop owner reflects on surprise success after first year in business

Ely Exotics shop owner Tom Bailey on first year anniversary

Tom Bailey (inset), owner of Ely Exotics, feels the shop's first year in business has been unexpectedly successful. - Credit: Ely Exotics/Tom Bailey

An exotic pet shop owner who opened during a Covid-19 lockdown has reflected on what he feels has been unexpected success one year into business. 

Tom Bailey opened Ely Exotics on Sedgeway Business Park at Witchford on February 20 last year, his first business in east Cambridgeshire since moving there two years ago. 

“It was my idea to open a shop like this and something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years,” Tom said. 

“It was always something in my head as a possibility I could do while I was put on furlough.” 

While Tom was on furlough, he used his spare time to plan for a new exotic pets shop near to where he lives. 

And after securing a unit at the business park, his aim was about to become reality. 

“I didn’t know what to expect when we first opened,” said Tom. 

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“We’ve had lockdowns, changing of rules, mask wearing, people want to go out then they don’t.  

“But the support we’ve had from local people has been fantastic.” 

Tom Bailey of Ely Exotics pet shop

Tom Bailey opened Ely Exotics on Sedgeway Business Park at Witchford a year ago during a Covid-19 lockdown. - Credit: Tom Bailey

Thousands of animals, from tropical fish to reptiles, have made Ely Exotics their temporary home which has attracted more people than Tom first thought. 

“I’ve been very surprised with the amount of people that keep exotic pets in the area,” he said. 

“I think people are spending more time at home as a family than before.   

“I like to think the reason for success is we provide quality livestock and a range of trusted products, as well as the customer service in terms of advice.” 

Ely Exotics remained open during the Covid-19 lockdown last February as it was classed as an essential shop. 

Ely Exotics shop on Sedgeway Business Park

Tom Bailey, owner of Ely Exotics, is planning to expand as it goes close to outgrowing its current facility on Sedgeway Business Park at Witchford. - Credit: Ely Exotics

And while their first year in business has been successful, Tom is eyeing plans to expand further afield. 

“I project in the next five years, we will be in a bigger facility; in the first year, we have packed the place out!” he added. 

“We hope to continue to grow the range of products we offer, adding other services like nationwide delivery.  

“We have a website launch soon and looking to do more in-house breeding, so we want to try and expand in ways that consumers like.”