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Wild Birds Unlimited Story
Why Wild Birds Unlimited?

Wild Birds Unlimited provides you the opportunity to enhance the lives of your community by giving you the highest quality backyard bird feeding products along with expert local advice on how to enjoy birds and nature in their own back yards while providing a fantastic business opportunity. Wild Birds Unlimited is committed to providing the highest quality products, customer experience and innovative support.  Ultimately, this has resulted in a high level of franchisee satisfaction and growth.

With over 300 Wild Birds Unlimited stores across North America, Wild Birds Unlimited is well on their way to being a household name that means “the best bird feeding products in town”.

Wild Birds Unlimited is a great concept for prospective franchisees who want to tap into their love of birds and nature and turn that love into a business enterprise. Their support team provides its franchisees the tools and support every step of the way, including assistance in helping you choose the ideal location in a chosen market.

About Wild Birds Unlimited

In 1981, Jim Carpenter, our founder and CEO, had a dream. Jim loved the hobby of bird feeding and loved the idea of controlling his own destiny by owning his own business. Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit came naturally; his grandparents had owned a small chain of “Five and Dime” retail stores in Indiana. So, with a big dream and small inheritance, Jim opened the first Wild Birds Unlimited store in Indianapolis, IN. Jim was confident that if he had the best bird feeding products, delivered the finest customer experience and focused on enhancing his customers’ lives by providing them the best way to enjoy the backyard bird feeding hobby, he was sure to succeed. These foundations have not changed over the past 35 years.  Read more about Jim and his journey here

How Much Can You Make?

As with every franchise opportunity, success is a combination of the industry demand, the franchise system/model, and each individual owner’s efforts and work ethic.  Wild Birds Unlimited is selective in its franchisee awarding process so that they can ensure they are partnering with individuals that share their values, their mission, and their willingness to do what it takes to be successful.  With those criteria in place, they’ve been able to achieve high levels of success.  To see those numbers and learn more, click here.

Hear From Wild Birds Unlimited Franchisees
Wild Birds Unlimited is Getting Recognized

In 2017, Wild Birds Unlimited was again ranked #1 in the Retail category by Franchise Business Review for Franchisee Satisfaction. They were honored in 2015 by Franchise Business Review as Hall of Fame Honorees for their Top 10 position in their annual survey of Franchisee Satisfaction for over 10 years. In 2017, Wild Birds Unlimited was again ranked No. 1 by Entrepreneur magazine in the Pet category and No. 171 overall on the 2017 Franchise 500 list.  To read about their recognitions, click here.

You can also see a list of all of their honors here.  

What is the Investment?

Start-up costs to open a Wild Birds Unlimited vary from market to market based primarily on the cost of real estate.  The overall investment ranges from $146,692 to $228,406.  This includes a one-time franchise fee of $30,000.  As with most franchises, we do collect a 4% royalty on gross sales to cover our ongoing training and support, and for continuing use of the franchise license, marks, etc.  We also have an Advertising Fund that we collect 0.5% of gross sales.  More information can be found in the Item 7 of our Franchise Disclosure Document.

The Wild Birds Unlimited Leadership Team

Jim Carpenter, Founder, CEO & President

In 1981, Jim opened the first WBU location, a 700 square foot retail shop on the north side of Indianapolis. By 1983, he began franchising the concept, which has grown to more than 300 locations across the US and Canada. Jim is intensely involved in the hobby, having designed many successful bird feeding products and developed retail concepts implemented in Wild Birds Unlimited stores. He is author of The Joy of Bird Feeding, a 400+ page book published in 2017 which is a guide to attracting and feeding backyard birds. Jim holds a B.A. in Biology from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree in Horticulture/Plant Physiology from Purdue University.

Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer

Paul’s career with Wild Bird Unlimited has perfectly combined his love of birds, nature and people. Paul joined the WBU team as the first full time employee in 1989 shortly after graduating with his Master’s Degree in Biology/Ornithology from the University of North Dakota. Paul has more than two decades of experience in working with potential franchisees as they decide to join the WBU team and has managed all of the site selection/lease negotiation assistance for the WBU system. 

Patricia Perkinson: Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer

Pat has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since June 2013. Prior to that time, she served as Vice President of Retail Sales since October 2007, as Managing Director of Retail Sales from 2006 to April 2007 and as Director of Retail Operations since 1995.

Pat joined Wild Birds Unlimited in 1995 after more than 20 years in women’s specialty apparel retail. Her previous experience included buying, merchandising, personnel management and operations beginning with single unit operation all the way to an 80 unit regional responsibility. She began her career with WBU as the Director of Retail Operations and was responsible for building the foundation of one-on-one support of our franchise store owners and developing the team of business consultants. She has been responsible for the overall direction of Franchise Center Support staff since 2007. Pat was raised in rural Pennsylvania where her father passed on his love of nature and the outdoors to her.

John Schaust: Chief Naturalist

Prior to joining Wild Birds Unlimited in 2004, John spent 26 years as a professional naturalist with federal, state and local agencies, specializing in environmental education, nature center operations and natural resources management. John is an avid birder and backyard bird feeder and has been a federally licensed bird bander for almost 30 years. As WBU’s Chief Naturalist, he enlists scientific research about birds in the development of new bird feeding products and nature education materials for WBU franchise stores.

Latest Stories

Why I Bought

Like a lot of people, Silvia Slemmer had always dreamed about being a business owner one day—but it was a goal that always seemed just out of reach.

For most of her life, Slemmer worked as an executive assistant, handling the meetings, schedules and travel plans for top-level leadership. Slemmer says her core responsibility was to keep their lives in order. It was a rewarding—albeit busy—career.

But yet, Slemmer often found herself wondering what else life might have in store for her. On the weekends, she’d regularly visit the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Carlsbad, California to buy supplies for her backyard birdfeeders. She says that’s where her dream began to become a business owner.

“I would visit the local Wild Birds Unlimited at every chance I had. I’d walk through the aisles and say to myself, ‘When I have a store like this…’” Slemmer recalls. “It was a dream of mine to have a store like Wild Birds Unlimited, but I knew I could never do it because I had no retail experience and I didn’t have the support from my husband to help make it happen.”

Looking for guidance, Slemmer turned to Paul Pickett, the chief development officer at Wild Birds Unlimited. He provided her with a list of important books to buy and walked her through the brand’s business planning. This process includes an in-depth look at Wild Birds Unlimited’s comprehensive support services for all elements of the franchise operation, an example Business Plan to work off of and a Financial Projection worksheet. Having this detailed information on hand ultimately helped Slemmer secure the business loan she needed to get her Wild Birds Unlimited location transferred over to her name.

In 2011, Slemmer became the new owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Carlsbad. To this day, she says it’s still a challenging—yet rewarding—process, but that’s what makes being a franchisee with the brand so great—she’s never done learning.

“Every day I walk into the store, and I can’ t believe this is mine—that I’ve come this far. I’m right back where my dream started. If it wasn’t for Wild Birds Unlimited, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Slemmer said. “Sometimes we get held back from going down our own path. I’m glad I didn’t listen when people told me it couldn’t be done. I determined my own happiness. And I found it with Wild Birds Unlimited.”

Click here to learn more about Silvia Slemmer.

Executive Q&A

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