Locally-owned pet store strives to bring new variety of pets

For animal lovers throughout the community, there is a new store offering a variety of pets.

Under the Sea sells a variety of fish — freshwater and salt water — as well as birds, rodents and reptiles, as well as food and supplies for house pets.

The owner of the new local store — located at 1719 Guadalupe St. Suite #3 — says it has not been an easy ride to open due to numerous permits and various conditions needed for pets. But they say that they hope to bring the Laredo area a new kind of business, lessening their commute to places outside of the city.

“Fifteen years ago when I got together with my husband, he had a saltwater tank at home. So he has always said that he wants to put saltwater fish into my tank, and we are always traveling to Corpus to San Antonio or Austin or another place, because here in Laredo, we didn’t have much of a variety,” said Under the Sea owner Mary Mendez. “So he would tell me it is expensive to buy the fish, and besides then taking care of it and paying for gas and all that.”

According to Mendez, this is when the couple decided to purchase more fish in efforts to bring them to Laredo and start selling them. Although at first, they could not do this because they had to have a business license and permits. Nevertheless, this motivated the couple to go ahead and plan for the opening.

Mendez said that she and her husband Clark opened a small business 13 years ago, but they closed it down as they started their family and needed to go back to work, as they didn’t have time to take care of the new business.

Now that their children are older — ages 12 and 8 — they’re able to once again give it a go.


“His dream was to have his two boys help us run the business, because our boys are really into pets and reptiles,” said Mendez of her husband. “So now, 13 years later … he tells me that now we can have the boys finally come to the store and help us feed the animals, and … they come in and enjoy it.”

Mendez said if the boys did not like the pets, then they would not be used to help from time to time, especially in the summer as the school year is over. However, she said her children really enjoy interacting with the animals and feeding them.

Mendez said for a pet business, getting the permits necessary to sell the variety of different fishes, reptiles and other animals is difficult.

“It was tough because in the beginning, we had opened a lot smaller location and it was on Frankfurt Street but it was really small. We couldn’t put too much into that place, as we would have people that would come in and put in Facebook comments like, ‘Isn’t that too many bunnies for such an exclosure?’ And so we had a lot of people who were against having pets too enclosed,” Mendez said.

“We did have a little run-in with people that don’t like the pets to be enclosed, so it was kind of tough. But on the same token, the people from the city were like, ‘That’s good that you are doing this, because we don’t have much of this in Laredo.’ So we have had our ups and our downs, but it has been a roller coaster. It has been tough, but it has been rewarding.”

Overall, Mendez said the people who go to the store always provide them with positive feedback for what they do and the selection of pets they have to offer. People expressed more enthusiasm about the fact they do not have to go out of town anymore just to shop for some pets.

Mendez said many people who visit their store can also interact with the different variety of pets without any commitment to buying, as she wants people to know what kind of animals they have and how they can be good pets.

“People can come to interact and take pictures, and we give them and show them how they could take care of their pets,” Mendez said. “We don’t sell them just a chameleon, but we also educate them on how to take care of it — what it needs, what lamps it needs, what care it needs, what diet it needs. We educate them.

“And we don’t just sell them something that they wouldn’t know how to take care of it, so they don’t have to come back and say that they lost their pets.”

Mendez said although large pet stores are present in the city that sell some pet items, there is not much competition in their specific area locally as they consider it an untapped market.

“Honestly, I don’t think that we have much of a competition with Petco. They have a lot more stuff, as it is a bigger place, but as far as fish and reptiles, I think we are more stocked than they are,” she said. “I just hope more people come and check it out, and why not even bring more people to Laredo?”

As the store just opened, the owners already have plans for the future. They hope to at some point be able to have puppies in their store.

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