Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Information

Own a Wild Birds Unlimited


  • How much it costs
  • What is the Investment?
  • Why Wild Birds Unlimited?
  • About Wild Birds Unlimited
  • Wild Birds Unlimited is Getting Recognized
  • How Much Can You Make With Wild Birds Unlimited?
  • The Wild Birds Unlimited Leadership Team
$185,179 - $311,043 (Includes Franchise Fee)
Start-Up Cost
$40,000 per location
Initial Franchise Fee

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 $150,837 to $260,991.  This includes a one-time franchise fee of $30,000.  As with most franchises, Wild Birds Unlimited does collect a 4% royalty on gross sales to cover ongoing training and support, and for continuing use of the franchise license, marks, etc.  The brand also has an Advertising Fund that collect 0.5% of gross sales. More information can be found in the Item 7 of Wild Birds Unlimited 2019 Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).

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.

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

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.  

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.

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.

Executive Q&A

Executive Q&A with Wild Birds Unlimited

Executive Q&A: Pat Perkinson, Vice President of Retail Sales

What about Wild Birds Unlimited makes it unique within its industry?

In Franchising, there are not a lot of retail concepts, this alone makes us unique, the fact that we are “hobby related” retail provides our franchise store owners with an opportunity to build a business in an industry that they love, serve customers who love what they are offering and work within a like-minded community.

What have been some of the brand's most important milestones over the past five years?

  • The recent launch of our omni-channel on-line ordering system is a huge milestone that has just occurred.  Our new retail operations coaching models was a big game changer when we launched it three years ago, and our being ranked #2 in Franchisee Satisfaction from Franchise Business Review in 2018 was one of our proudest milestones ever.
  • In 2017, Our Founder, President and CEO, Jim Carpenter authored a book on the hobby of bird feeding titled “The Joy of Bird Feeding”. John W. Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology wrote this endorsement “Nobody in the world knows more about the science and art of feeding wild birds than Jim Carpenter. This book is not only a detailed “best practices’ guide taught by the master, but it also lets us share in the sheer joy with which Carpenter approaches his hobby-turned-profession. Cover to cover this fact-filled manual is a delight to read.” Jim has been doing book tours in Wild Birds Unlimited stores across the country and his extensive research has already been used in new product development.
  • We have a very aggressive and innovative in-house product development team that over the past five years has introduced more than 100 new and mostly exclusive core hobby products. Our percentage of exclusive branded products is more than twice the retail industry average. Our focus on new and exclusive product development is a major differential advantage in the bird feeding industry. During our 2018 Vendor Mart will unveil over 30 new specialty bird food items to our line-up.
  • Our innovative franchisee coaching models are very unique in the franchise space.  Every brand new franchisee works with a New Owner team that consists of two business coaches, our training manager, our PR and Media Manager, Store Design and Planning Specialist and Manager of Hobby and Nature Education to get them started in their business with an amazing foundation of support.  After that first year of operations, our franchisees migrate to one of three models of coaching depending on their needs, level of engagement and focus on results.  These coaching models are, from most to least intensive, Enterprise, Business Development and Answer Center.  These coaching models are chosen by the franchisee and there is no extra cost to participate in the higher intensity coaching options.

What plans does the brand have in the coming years (to highlight momentum)?

  • We continue growing the number of units in our system and are having great results in growing the number of multi-unit franchisees.
  • Our continued focus on the Omni-Channel project will help our customers and franchisees in their effort to become as Amazon-proof as possible.
  • We are unveiling a new program that will assist our customers and franchisees in enjoying the backyard bird feeding hobby with the development of our new “FeederScaping” program.  Trained Backyard Bird Feeding Specialists” from your local Wild Birds Unlimited store will conduct a physical visit to the consumer’s yard to better assess the best ways to attract birds and wildlife and to help the consumer create a true “Backyard Habitat”.

What does an ideal franchisee look like?

Someone who is passionate about building a business enterprise, passionate about the hobby of backyard bird feeding and nature and passionate about sharing this hobby passion with their customer base and community.

Why is Wild Birds Unlimited a good investment?

  • Our results show that our average first calendar year stores are cash-flowing in a positive fashion
  • Our focus is not just on top line sales, we also, as a system, focus on the bottom line as well.
  • Our results, published in Item 19 of our FDD, are very strong, allowing our franchisees to make both a strong financial and passionate personal investment in the Wild Birds Unlimited brand.

Own a Wild Birds Unlimited