Unique Pet Store Celebrates Grand Opening In Greenwood
Photographer / Amy Garro
Aquariums Plus Founder and Owner Matt Waggoner, a Whiteland native, has certainly come full circle in his passion for animals.
After working for 20 years as a veterinary technician, Waggoner opened the Greenwood-based retail establishment, which offers a range of fish, reptiles, birds and small animals as well as tanks and a full line of supplies, to the public in August, and he says the endeavor hearkens back to one of his first jobs as a teen at a local southside pet store.
“It’s fun to think I’ve come back to the pet retail world where I was a long time ago, and I feel like Greenwood needs a business like this for small animals, fish and all the supplies they need for the care of those types of animals,” he says.
Waggoner’s pet store job long ago prompted him to further his knowledge and expertise in the animal field, and after moving to Denver upon graduating from Whiteland High School he obtained an associates degree in veterinary technology from the Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology. For the next 20 years Waggoner gained experience as a vet technician in a variety of areas including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) imaging for small animals.
In October, after 20 years in the vet tech field, Waggoner decided a new challenge was just what he needed, and while he wasn’t certain of the direction he wanted to go in, one thing was certain – he would stay involved with animals.
“I fell back on my experiences as a younger person, being around animals in a pet store, and I started putting things in place and doing research,” Waggoner explains.
Being based on the southside and having observed the lack of retail stores devoted to small animals like fish, reptiles and smaller pets like hamsters and rabbits, Waggoner realized he could succeed in filling such a void.
“There aren’t a lot of other pet stores in the area that do what we do and carry livestock like tropical fish and small animals,” he says. “I wanted to give people another choice to check things like that out.”
By November, he’d filed for a retail license, and in April of this year he secured his current location on South Madison Avenue near U.S. 31. A four-week construction and renovation process ensued, and a soft opening for Aquariums Plus was held on August 12.
Waggoner’s store offers a wide selection of freshwater, saltwater and coral fish, various reptiles including lizards, snakes and frogs, birds, as well as small furry creatures like rabbits, chinchillas, hamsters and gerbils.
“It’s a full range of small animals and the supplies that go along with their care and housing,” he says. “We just don’t carry dogs or cats, or their supplies, currently. It’s been a challenging process becoming a business owner and all the things that come with that, but I feel like I’ve done a good job using what I’ve learned all these years. I’m proud of it.”
Waggoner plans to hold a grand opening celebration for the public on October 12 with special sales and appearances by representatives from local pet adoption agencies.
“The biggest challenge has been getting the animal enclosures and aquariums up and running the way they’re supposed to be,” he adds. “But it’s been a smooth process for the most part, and I was fortunate enough to secure a business loan through Bankable, which is a non-profit that helps start-up small businesses.”
Waggoner adds that he’s excited about the grand opening event on October 12 and says the southside has embraced his small animal concept.
“It’s been a really great reception from the community,” he says. “I haven’t done any advertising yet, but from the first day I’ve had people coming into the store every day, which shows that a lot of people around here are interested in checking out small animals and not just dogs and cats.”
Aquariums Plus is located at 707 South Madison Avenue Suite W in Greenwood. Call 317-893-2709 or visit facebook.com/AQPlusGreenwood for additional info including hours of operation, updates on inventory and special sale announcements.