Purr-fect Pets is continuing a big sale and then closing its doors for good after offering purr-fect service for more than a quarter century.
Customers, obviously disappointed, have been coming into the store to say good-bye to owner Tom Fomenko Sr. -- and to stock up on supplies marked more than half off its original price.
"It is time for me to move on," Fomenko said.
The store at 286 Boston Post Road has been known for a personal touch that far exceeded any chain establishment. Rabbits and guinea pigs were out in the open -- and the staff dished out expert advice, sometimes chatting with customers for hours at no cost.
"We're not a chain -- and we (the employees) and the customers are very involved--we are like family. We are definitely hands-on with our animals," explained employee Kate Poplaski, a biology major at Sacred Heart University with plans of becoming a veterinarian.
Fomenko's journey in the pet business began in 1975 when he and brother-in-law Danny Hughes opened a 216-aquarium store, Fishco, in 1975.
"Six years later, we had 1200 tanks and sold $8 million worth of fish," Fomenko said.
In 1984, Hughes passed away and Fomenko left the fish business behind, opening the doors to Purr-fect Pets in December of 1985.
"I had $80,000 worth of debt on credit cards to open this store but I managed to pay it off within the first year," Fomenko said.
There's hope that the store will re-open under new ownership.
"This has been a labor of love and I have been searching for the right person to take over the business--I did not want to just give it to anyone," Fomenko said.
A former, longtime employee, Stacey Stryker, her brother, and her husband are interested in reopening the store within the next year.
"We love animals and are family oriented and would like to try to make this work if we can get the finances and other aspects of the business in order to open the store in the near future," Stryker said.
"We would like to continue Tom's legacy," added her husband Chad Stryker.