Gettys Pet Shop to close Dec. 31

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 18, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Michael Richards stuck his finger through the cage, gently stroking the nose of a crying baby beagle.

He loves puppies, he said, cradling the animal to calm her down.

But the 52-year-old knew he couldn’t take “Millie,” as he jokingly named her, home to Dallastown. He hadn’t traveled to Gettys Pet Shop to purchase a new companion.

He came to say goodbye.

The Springettsbury Township store – which sells animals and accessories – will close Dec. 31, said co-owner Stan Senft.

On Tuesday, one puppy, a few fish and dozens of mice and rats remained.

Everything is on sale for 35 percent off, except the dog and dog food.

“All these big box stores … every where you go they sell pet supplies,” Stan’s wife Sally, said. “Drugstores sell pet supplies. Everywhere you go, they’re putting little people out.”

But that wasn’t always the case.

In 1957, Sally’s father, Francis Gettys, opened the East Market Street store – one of a few places in the area to buy animals and supplies.
The business evolved from a passion. Before opening the store, Gettys, who worked at Borg Warner, raised birds from the basement of his house on Cottage Place in York.

“When he retired, he worked out here,” Sally said. “He would go to New York for fish. He’d go to Philadelphia for fish. He’d go to Florida for birds. He did a lot of going around and picking things up.”

Within the first few days of being open, Gettys had a bit of bad luck. Sally laughs about it now.

“One of our first customers stole an aquarium pump,” she said. “Someone stole it right off the bat.”

But her father caught the guy, and business moved along – boomed, in fact – after that.

Sometimes, the inventory was sold before it even hit the tanks.

“Years ago, my dad would come home with fish,” Sally said. “He couldn’t put the fish away. People would be waiting to buy them.”

Today, Stan said, that business has been lost to online shopping.

“I didn’t realize so many people bought fish on the Internet,” he said.

On Tuesday, a young beagle was the last puppy left at Gettys Pet Shop in Springettsbury Township. The shop opened in 1957 and plans to close for good Dec.

When the Senfts’ youngest son, who just turned 46, was in nursery school, Gettys asked his daughter to help with the business.

“He wanted me to help out for a little bit,” Sally said. “I’ve been here ever since. It wasn’t just a little bit.

When Stan got laid off from his job at a print shop, he joined the business, too.

The couple and one of three sons took over the store full-time in 1998 after Gettys died.

And they have tons of stories, including a particularly racy one involving a primate.

Gettys used to house dogs where the cash register sits now. Nearby, there was a monkey for sale.

In those days, regular people – without any licensing – could buy monkeys as pets.

“Some lady was leaning over looking at the dogs, and the monkey grabbed her butt,” she added. “This lady was ready to hit my dad. He said, ‘It wasn’t me. It was the monkey!'”

One time, Stan returned from a fishing trip to find Sally frantically running around the parking lot trying to find the monkey.

It had escaped.

Monkey antics aside, the Senfts say their regular customers are what allowed them to last as long as they have – people like Richards who has bought most of his dogs there over the years.

“I didn’t believe it when my wife told me they were closing,” he said.

Richards remembers a 7-week-old Golden Retriever/Collie mix he bought at Gettys. He can’t forget “Waldo.” The pup weighed 18 pounds.

“I’ve been coming here since I was this big,” he said, gesturing with his hand to suggest a small child. “It’s part of York’s history.”

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