BERLIN — After 140 years in operation, Berlin’s iconic family-owned pet supply store will be closing its doors for good.
“This type of business is just going away,” said John Connery, who has owned Labieniec’s with his wife, Joyce Connery, for more than three years. He said they aren’t able to compete with big box stores and growing online marketplaces.
Since they announced the closing, customers have streamed into the store to say goodbye or get some of their favorite items. John Connery said they’ve passed some of their products to other local stores to make sure they remain available.
Customers have been sad, but understanding, Joyce Connery said. While they focused on customer service and experimented with changing their hours and goods, the business was unable to become profitable.
“You realize how many people Labieniec’s has touched,” Joyce Connery said.
Housed in the same barn it opened in over a century ago, the shop sold pet food and supplies, gardening equipment, bird feeders and animal feed.
It was also a place for animal owners to get advice, Joyce Connery said.
“We tried to give the best education we could.”
They had a few pets in the store — three cats, a rabbit and a parakeet — that many of the customers came to know. They’ve already left Labieniec’s and are living at the couple’s home.
“People loved coming in here to look at the animals,” Joyce Connery said. “The cats were our greeters.”
The annual chick sale was popular. Employees would spend time with customers to make sure they had all the supplies needed and knew how to care for the chicks.
“I loved the chick day, … even the customers were like little kids,” Joyce Connery said.
The business will close its doors for the last time on Feb. 28, with a party being held for staff and customers.
“We have awesome customers. I’ve got to say … we’ve been blessed by people,” Joyce Connery said.