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from sending mice by prepare to a ‘missing’ snake – life in retail for Kirkcaldy household

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Kirkcaldy High Street will say goodbye to one in all its longest operating businesses when it closes its doorways on the finish of this month.

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The Pet Shop on the Lang Toun’s High Street opened its doorways 67 years in the past however rising prices and decrease footfall means that it’s going to not reopen within the new yr.

The store has been in Ken Galloway’s household because it first opened in 1956, however they has been concerned within the animal business for for much longer. His grandfather bred mice – “he was a mouse fancier and he showed them around pet shows, a bit like Oor Wullie,” he defined.

Ken’s father, David – a famend determine throughout the city centre retail world – continued to breed mice throughout his father’s service within the Second World War however expanded the venture into promoting them, at first to fellow schoolmates earlier than shifting on to providing his commerce to pet outlets in Edinburgh after which to the remainder of the nation.

Ken Galloway from the Pet Shop with employee Dane Slack  & Trig the dog (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Ken Galloway from the Pet Shop with employee Dane Slack  & Trig the dog (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Ken Galloway from the Pet Shop with employee Dane Slack & Trig the dog (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Ken explained: “In those days you could take a box of mice down to Kirkcaldy station and send them by parcel. The box would go into the guard’s van and off they might go to Newcastle, and be collected by the pet store the place postal orders can be exchanged!”

When David married Ken’s mom, Helen, he started promoting mice from his again door, earlier than opening the primary store on the High Street in 1956. It would quickly change into a household affair.

Ken defined: “My mother was a nurse and she said that so long as she didn’t have anything to do with it, it was fine by her – but, very quickly, she got involved in the shop as well.”

It shortly went from power to power and linked up with different Kirkcaldy businesses for cross-promotion, together with the ABC Cinema. The pet store would create elaborate window shows selling the movies displaying within the close by film home. However, one promotion was designed to essentially get the individuals of Kirkcaldy speaking, with the reported escape of one of many pet store’s animals resulting in headlines within the Fife Free Press.

Ken Galloway from the Pet Shop putting the last delivery of fish in the tanks (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Ken Galloway from the Pet Shop putting the last delivery of fish in the tanks (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Ken Galloway from the Pet Shop putting the last delivery of fish in the tanks (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Ken explained: “When you walked in the front door up the two staircases the cinema had a little display area in the centre. When Tarzan was screening, my dad filled it with animals. Between him and Douglas Adams, the manager of the ABC, they came up with a little story for publicity that a snake had disappeared.it hadn’t actually! They had an image of one of many ticket ladies saying that she had discovered the snake – they did these kinds of issues in these days for publicity.”

After Fife Council relocated parking metres exterior the store, The Pet Shop finally moved to the William Burn designed premises at 226 High Street in 1996, the place it has remained ever since. However, with their present premises now having an on-site automobile park, it’s now set to be charged £250 per 30 days in business charges; one other main cost which impacts on its budgets.

Ken mentioned: “In today’s climate with the cost of living crisis, the reduced footfall on the High Street, so many shops are closing. There are fewer and fewer to pull people down to the High Street. While there’s a cost of living crisis, to reduce the rateable value limit down to £12,000 was just the final tipping point. That money just doesn’t exist. I don’t like putting my prices up.”

Ken’s retirement on the finish of the yr will mark the tip of job that has been all encompassing in his life. He defined: “On a Sunday, we used to go to stock car racing quite often, we would all get in the car and drive to the shop and all have to feed the animals and make sure they were all okay, before we piled back into the car and go to the races. It was, and is, 365 days a year running a pet shop – from a very young age we were involved, I would get to feed the tortoises.”

Ken mentioned that he’s had many messages and recollections from prospects recalling shopping for their first pets from the store in days passed by – some recalling shopping for their first puppy again within the Nineteen Seventies, many recounting return visits with their very own kids and grandchildren.

However, he’s now trying ahead life with a distinct outlook, and presumably a again backyard for the primary time since shifting in above the store in 1996. He mentioned: “I’m looking for something ground floor, with a garden that’s big enough for a few fruit trees and I’ll be happy!”

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