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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

March 22, 2013

No Snow Day for This Pet Store

By Elizabeth Creith

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When you own a pet store, you have to feed the animals daily. If you have to be there, you might as well be open. And that's why we opened on Jan. 30, 2008.

The snow started the night before, blowing and drifting, and making roads slippery and visibility poor. The next day the local radio news announced police were advising that people not go out. Doctors' offices were closed, mail delivery was off for the day, even the malls were closed.

“Let's see how the roads are,” David said. “We'll take it slowly. If we can get in, I could do water changes on all the tanks, and we could clean the birdcages. No interruptions today.”

We packed lunches and Sky, our Australian shepherd, and ourselves into the big blue pickup truck we had at the time and cruised through the abandoned streets. They'd obviously been plowed once, but from the relentless march of the drifts across the roads, they'd need it again soon.

Opening the store during a blizzard paid off for Creith.
Opening the store during a blizzard produced surprising results for Elizabeth and her husband. Editor's Note: This is not the author's dog, but it is still a cute pup.
When we got to the plaza where our store was, the middle of the parking lot was clear, but drifts piled along all the storefronts like a snow Sahara. All it needed was penguins. We parked in the middle of the lot. The good news was that we wouldn't have to shovel the truck out at the end of the day. The bad news was that the wind was enough to blow your hair off.

Nothing was open except the 24-hour grocery. I went in to pick up fresh lettuce for the tortoises while David headed for the store.

“Good thing you came now, hon,” said the cashier, “'Cause the day shift can't get in, and we're closing in fifteen minutes.”

I met David at the front door to the store, and we spent a couple of minutes kicking the drifts away from the door. David wrestled with the lock for a few seconds while our eyes watered from the cold. The moment we stepped in, our glasses fogged over. Outside—Antarctica; inside—Australia, or at least somewhere hot and steamy and loud with the cries of Jack the umbrella cockatoo.

“Let's put out the sandwich board,” I said, I don't know why. I can only blame hypothermia.

“Sure, let's!” David said. Then both of us laughed like hyenas. We'd have to shovel it out at the end of the day to bring it in, maybe chip it off the sidewalk, but what a great joke! Who'd come out when even the grocery store was closed?

The first customer arrived half an hour later.

“Can I get a dozen crickets?” he asked. I was so stunned that I didn't even think to ask him what possessed him to come out in weather that would make Nanook of the North crawl back into bed. I wouldn't have come out for crickets if my lizard had its little face pressed to the glass of its terrarium, making puppy eyes and drooling.

Sky wouldn't go out to pee until her eyeballs turned yellow, but we had seven customers in all that day. They came for crickets, for dog treats, for a leash, for birdseed. Halfway through the day we hauled the sign in. It made no difference. Nobody called to see if we were open—they just came.

One woman bought herself half a dozen neon tetras. I wondered what was going on in her head as she looked out at a landscape that would have daunted Scott of the Antarctic: “You know, what I really need right now is a bag of neon tetras. I'll just drive around in this blizzard and see if there's a pet store open.”

By five o'clock, two hours before we usually closed, the water changes were done, and every birdcage was scrubbed, relined and already collecting fresh poop and spilled food. We were ready to call it a day. We locked up, bundled up and trudged back out to the truck. It was blessedly drift-free, and we hopped in. Just as David turned the key in the ignition, a car pulled up to the store and a man got out and tried the door. He glanced around, and both of us ducked.

“Quick, before he sees us!” I said.

It was the closest I've ever heard David come to peeling out. 


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